Friday, June 15, 2012

First Week in Achham

I reached Achham about a week before Laura and David arrived. My trip out took 13 hours in a jeep, and the scenery was incredible. Achham is beautiful and Nyaya Health's Bayalpata Hospital provides free healthcare to the neediest and most deserving patients I have ever met. Patients come from everywhere- on the hospital's one ambulance, on the bus from distant villages, and even on the backs of their relatives walking over 10 hours. But the picture would be incomplete if I didn't talk about the patient I saw with elephantiasis or the boy, whose family ran away from the hospital with him out of frustration upon hearing that he had a suspected case of polio- for which there is not much that we can do.

Electricity is intermittent and as we were rounding the ER on my first night before bed, we consoled a mother whose newborn boy was very sick and receiving oxygen- the prognosis was not good. I sat there as Dr. Payel, the Director of Clinical Operations at the hospital, held the weeping mother and then the electricity went out. Slowly the baby made gasping breaths, Dr. Payel listened to the baby's heart and the baby boy was dying. It was like his mother knew and we sat there with the mother as her baby took his last breaths of agony. I literally watched life escape the baby with his every breath and we cried along with the mother until I ran over to hold her as she fainted. We quickly took her blood pressure, and checked all her vitals. She was going to be okay with some rest and food. Dr. Payel and I went back to our office and all either of could say was, "Are you okay? I can't help but think if things would have been different back home." We sat there in the office, speechless, for the rest of the night.

Yes, life in the developing world is tough- and that's putting it lightly. This mother was lying there beside her lifeless child, without even her husband to console her because he is in India working to make ends meet. These women are resilient and inspirational. I'm humbled by the people I meet every day, from the women who run entire households, to their young children who are brilliant and missing school to take care of their mothers who are ill.

I'm honored to be able to serve these amazing people and here's to being a physician advocate for the poor!

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