Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Final days in Laos for Griffith Group C

PROJECT: Nursing – Griffith University
WRITTEN BY: Laura Boulogne

Day 11 or 'Monday blues':
Today, a lot of us were touched by fatigue and homesickness so the general mood was dragged down. However, we kept going and never stopped, and we closed the clinic at 3:30pm after seeing 145 patients. That night, we had a team meeting, a few chocolates, a good debrief and got the general mood right back up.

Day 12 or ‘So many cute babies and pregnant mums!’:

This morning was cold but as the sun set, we warmed up and kept working at a rapid pace. By lunchtime, we had seen more than half of our triaged patients. Today was a good day for everyone and we all worked well under Maddy’s supervision. I had a few interesting cases like a suspected heart block, lymphatic cancer, hypertension with a BP of 200/95 and a few common colds, UTIs and chest infections. The 101 patients we saw today meant we had an early finish and we had everything all packed up by 3:30 so we jumped in the trucks and headed home.

Tomorrow will be our last clinic day and it gave me food for thought. It has been such an interesting trip! I have learnt so much about myself, my goals, limits and qualities in nursing; I have modified my assessment so much to adapt it to the Laos community and this trip was extremely good for me because now I know that I can apply my new knowledge about different cultures to help me treat people from all different backgrounds when working in hospitals back home.

Most of all, I have to say that I have learnt to trust myself, trust my instinct and trust that I have the knowledge and the skills required to be a good nurse and to assess patients of all ages and to work in a multidisciplinary team of health care workers and translators.

Day 13 or ‘Last clinic day’:
The clinic went really well this Wednesday and Celise was our last team leader. As she made her speech, I tried to remember our very first clinic and it reminded me how far we had come since day one. Just as I had opened the first clinic with maternity education, I opened this one with Lizzie, Tiffany and Elisabeth C playing the role of a pregnant mom giving birth. We saw a few more than 75 patients today.

Day 14 or ‘Sex education day’:
Today we went to Ban Pak Seng's high school to teach Sex Education. Divided in groups of girls and boys, our team educated them on the reproductive system, contraception and menstruation.
The girls sessions went well as we explained how puberty changes us physically, emotionally and our personality. As we moved on towards periods and menstrual cycles, we observed the girls writing questions on the paper we had given them. After giving out the girls day packs and talking about STIs and sex safety, we answered questions and realised how little the Laos High School students knew about sex and their own bodies.

Lunchtime rang and we headed up to our head quarters to sort through all the boxes and got our donation bags ready. The rest of the day was the closing ceremony, a game of volleyball, and bacci at the high school as well as the award ceremony with the teachers. I got the translator award as I had been translating all of the French signs.

Day 15 or ‘Blessings at the village and to the bouddha caves we went’:
Today we had a traditional Barsi ceremony as we got blessings from the inhabitants of Ban Pak Seng. We left with the flowers and travelled down the mountain toward the Mekong. We visited the Bouddha’s caves and placed the flowers on one of the altars. We went back to Luang Prabang by boat and cruised down the Mekong. We all enjoyed our last day together as a group and got ready for our final weekend of exploration. Sadly, Allison and Cara were be leaving us early and were going to have to say our goodbyes to them tomorrow.

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