Update from Tanzania : Why I came or will the real nurse please stand up
The latest update from Ginger in Tanzania:
In the first semester of nursing school my clinical instructor asked us if there was a moment when we had our “I am a nurse moment.” For me, it was calling to get a patient scheduled for a needed procedure and I had to really advocate for my patient. It was a great feeling and I have grown so much as a student nurse and nurse since then. Now with graduation just two classes away I am beginning to worry about making that transition to being a “real nurse.” I wonder if the past year and a half has provided me with everything I need to start this journey and have been hoping that this time in Tanzania might help me find these independent legs. I have been able to weigh, vaccinate, and in general make babies giggle. I have taken blood pressure (the old fashioned way!) and vitals for hundreds of patients. Some days I am the only person doing these things at the clinic. However, I haven’t really done anything here that I haven’t done in the United States before.
This weekend I was going to visit a friend of mine from high school that lives about three hours from Dar Es Salaam. I was determined to make this trip on my own and I left my house with my backpack and headed to the road to catch a dolla-dolla to the bus stand. I ended up getting off at the wrong Ubungo bus stand (the little old lady I was sitting next to told me this was the place to get off so she helped me hike up the road to find a dolla-dolla headed in the right direction. I was soon on a crowded local transport that stopped to let people on and off. People got on with chickens and produce. They were crammed in and standing in the aisle. It was amazing and I loved watching the country slide by slowly as we chugged up hills.
About half way to Morogoro a woman got on with her mother. The woman looked ill. I kept an eye on her. Over the next hour she seemed to go from bad to worse. Finally I turned to the mama next to me and in my Kiswahili asked if she needed help and said I was a nurse. I was able to find that she had been bleeding from the vagina for the past three days, passed large blood clots the size of lemons and that she was cold, sweaty and vomiting. She was not pregnant but all of professors Black’s lectures flashed in my head. They were taking her to the hospital. I was able to do little other than offer my help and offer my water. When we got to the bus stand I helped them support/carry her to a taxi and rode with them as far as town. I had my hand on her back and used the same words I use to soothe babies.
I don’t know what happened to her, but she was headed to the biggest hospital around. It took her about two and a half hours and about ten dollars to get there. I can only hope it was soon enough.
Sometimes people wonder why I have come to Tanzania when I could be at home on my couch. I think I may have been here just for that moment. So I could look into her mom’s eyes and say sorry, rub a back, and learn that I really am a nurse.