It’s my second day in Bajrabarahi.There's new sounds for my ears to grow accustomed to and new faces that will become familiar before long. I went for a wander around the village this morning, down to a Hindu temple where Rocky, the clinic dog, playfully led the way. I clambered down the steep steps and sat on a oddly placed concrete slab, overlooking the open temple space and trickling river. Apparently every Saturday morning there is an animal sacrifice in the temple as an offering to the Gods *avoid temple on Saturday, duly noted*. I surveyed the surrounds and an elderly mountain woman carrying a hefty load walked by. I simultaneously admired her strength and felt a bit distressed, she must have been in her late 70's. She stopped and looked at me, giving nothing away. I offered her a smile and a Namaste. She looked slightly confused and suspicious by my presence but soon enough the storylines on her faces widened and the smile was returned.
Back at the clinic complex I meet Apana who is in charge of the on-site lab. She can provide us with essential lab test results for our patients within a few hours if necessary. There is also the 'Healthpost' (pharmacy) and birthing clinic on site. The pharmacy has 35 different types of medication that we are able to prescribe.
We've spent the afternoon preparing for tomorrow with a couple of classes. First, we met and bonded with our interpreters - local boys and girls who have undergone months of training to be our right hands in the clinic. There's a real art of communicating through an interpreter. For example, it's important to speak and direct all our questions to our patient (even though they don't speak English). When the interpreter is translating for us, we must resist the temptation to look at them and instead, maintain eye contact and connection with our patients. It's important to speak fluently to our patients and avoid slowly down and over-pronouncing words which can sound a little derogatory. It's also important that I, personally, stop speaking to myself out allowed because as I learnt today, that too will be translated to our patient!
It's a real team effort - we can not do our job without our translators and the young translators are very grateful to have the opportunity to be doing important and less physically taxing work (many of them are from farming families) with us in the clinic.
We also brushed up on taking vital signs (blood pressure, blood glucose, pulse oximeter). We discussed the difference between primary healthcare and alternative healthcare. In Australia we tend to see our GP's as our primary healthcare providers - they monitor our vital signs, ensure we are on the right medication and hopefully discuss treatment plans with us or refer us on to alternative healthcare providers. Tomorrow, a group of five fresh Chinese Medicine graduates pull on their white (and slightly crinkled) lab coats, clip on their badges to become the primary healthcare providers for the patients of this rural municipality. We covered a lot of ground in school with orthopedic testing, anatomy & physiology, pathophysiology and musculo-skeletal traumatology but those classroom days feel like a bit of a distant memory and surface scraping for what's to come. And so, it was a little quiet tonight as we contemplated our responsibilities and braced ourselves for the grand re-opening of the clinic, tomorrow morning.