Thursday, March 1, 2012

November - Starting the Holiday Season with Tabaski!

-This was when my grad school searching definitly took on the focus of Women's Health and I started looking at specific programs. From November 4th:

What I've learned about medical professionals, so far. Doctors go through the most training – 4 years med school, plus 2-7 more years of specialized training. Physician's Assistants (PA's) are like mini doctors – they get a shortened version of the same kind of training, and often share the first year of med school with the MD students. They do rotations through different specialties, but aren't required to do a residency like doctors do after they graduate. They write prescriptions, order and interpret labs, and basically do most routine and mildly complicated cases, with limited supervision by an MD or DO (osteopathic doctor). Nurse Practitioners are the PA's of nursing. They are Registered Nurses (RN's) with additional masters or post-masters level training (some schools have Doctorate of Nursing programs, which goes beyond post-masters), and can see patients, write prescriptions, order and interpret labs, and work under limited MD/DO supervision. They can work in multiple settings – hospitals, clinics, college health centers, birthing centers, and private practices, among others. NP's are trained in the nursing model of care rather than the doctoral model, and focus on holistic and preventative care. NP's can specialize and be licensed in different fields such as Midwifery, Family Care, Women's Health, Acute Care, Adult and Family Mental Health, etc.

-Celebrated my second Tabaski with Alimata when she kindly brought me some mutton cooked with macaroni and a big container of rice. An odd combination, but I did very much appreciate all the rice that I didn't even have to cook myself! I shared with some kids who came by, since I clearly wasn't going to eat it all myself and they were harassing me for money, as is their right on fete days like this, even if they know I never actually give them money.

-This is the time of year when it starts to cool off again at night, you wake up and you're not sweating! I made a note of this several times – clearly I was impressed.

-Due to grant issues, the timeline for Moringa Project is pushed back to January, after I get back from vacation. I talk with the Major and the ASCs and we decide to wait and start the health lessons in January as well.

-The newest vegetable to reach my marche was cabbage. I was skeptical about the merits of cabbage in any form besides a salad, and the “Spicy Cabbage” recipe in the PCV cookbook looked a little dubious, but I decided to give it a go and it turned out so delicious! Almost like fried sauerkraut, but spicy. You cut the cabbage into thin strips, soak it for an hour in vinegar with pepper, salt, piemont (I used Cajun salt and cayenne), and crushed garlic cloves, then fry it in some hot oil for a few minutes. Amazing!

-We won some kind of “clean-CSPS” competition, and used our prize money to throw a party! We (the staff and ASCs and myself) cleaned the CSPS, and cooked an incredible amount of food. A 200L trash can of zoom kom (a sweet drink made from millet flour), 25 kg of rice, 10mille of fish, piles of onions and eggplants – it was crazy, but we did manage to feed about 50 people with a good amount of leftovers. I had a lot of fun eating with the women of the CSPS staff – it took me a while to realize that the men were eating separately from us. I don't get to eat in a group with my hands very often, and I found myself really enjoying it, although I did burn my fingers with almost every bite. To make up for my weak nasara hands, I out-piemonted them with ease – it was exactly what the rice was missing, even better than adding salt (to my surprise!). I ignored the fish, to the amusement of everyone – the rice was just fine, thank you. Most fish that you buy fresh (not dried or smoked) comes from Ivory Coast more often than it comes from the local lakes and dams. Plus during the clean up the men came and re-built my hangar, so now I have a shady spot in my courtyard to sit outside when it's too hot in my house.

In interesting things unearthed in the clean up, we found: a box of plastic speculum's, pens stuck into consultation notebooks from 7 years ago, cloth posters about guinea worm transmission (now eradicated), monthly reports from 1996 and 1997 (there were only 5-10 births per month! Now we have 60-70 on average), bouille demonstration notebooks from 1976 (awesome, but why do we still have this?), a falling apart examination table, a moto that doesn't work, and about 2 dozen (I kid you not) frogs that had taken up residence behind a pile of boxes.

-From November 17th: I just love being outside after so long being trapped indoors by the rain, and then by the mosquitoes. I like that life here has rhythms. There's a part of the year you sleep inside and part of the year you sleep outside. A part of the year when the sun rising in your window and heating your house ensures you're up out of bed on time, and a part of the year when you can easily and happily sleep in. A season for eggs, a season for vegetables, a season for mangoes (I'm still kind of put off by the thought of eating mango after my overindulgence last April). A season for working in the fields, a season for school, a season for sitting and doing not much beyond basic personal maintenance, a season for gardening. A season for animals being tied to bricks and rocks and walls, a season for animals roaming wherever they want around village. A season for long hard hours at the CSPS, a season for short work days and long hours spent sitting and talking. Rhythms. Patterns. Comfortably predictable.

-From November 28th: To celebrate my halfway-through-service vicinity (arrived 13 months ago, scheduled to leave in 12-14 months depending on the exact day of my COS), I wanted to write about something that has been a big part of my service. Babies? The CSPS? Attempting to learn Moore? Well, all of those, but I'm thinking about books! Those wonderful heavy objects that fill my suitcase between Ouaga and village, providing me with English and escape on demand. Today I'm reading a particularly amazing book, and wanted to share the highlights of my literary adventures over the past year or so. Thanks to a suggestion during stage I have a list of nearly every book I've read while here (I forgot to write down a few of them, like the midwife book I read in French), and I've started marking the ones that mean something, the ones that I know I'll want to own and re-read, the ones that for some reason or another moved me or made me think in a new way, the ones that I just really really enjoyed for no good reason at all. So, without further ado, here are my top books of PC Year 1:

If on a winter's night, a traveler – Italo Calvino
The River Why – David James Duncan
A Prayer For Owen Meany – John Irving
The Monsters of Templeton – Lauren Groff
The Lost Boys – Orson Scott Card
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – J.R.R. Tolkien
Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce – Douglas Starr
Jitterbug Perfume – Tom Robbins
Running With Scissors – Augusten Burroughs
My Jesus Year:A Rabbi's Son Wanders the Bible Belt in Search of His Own Faith – Benyamin Cohen
Not Wanted On The Voyage – Timothy Findley
Lost and Found – Carolyn Parkhurst
Lamb:The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal – Christopher Moore
Dry - Augusten Burroughs
Kitchen Confidential:Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly – Anthony Bourdain
The Witch of Portobello – Paulo Coelho
The Disappearing Girl:Learning The Language of Teenage Depression – Dr. Lisa Machoian
Ender's Game – Orson Scott Card
The Wisdom of Whores:Bureaucrats, Brothels, and the Business of AIDS - Elizabeth Pisani

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