I don’t like to think of myself as injury prone, but I am not a stranger to getting the occasional scrape. I have gotten stitches 5 times, torn my rotator cuff and broken 2 ribs, so I know my way around the medical system. Also for those who don’t know I used to be the manager of a children’s clinic in El Salvador, worked with a clinic as a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica and used to hang around a clinic in Honduras. So it seems that I either get hurt in America or end up at medical facilities anywhere that I travel. So I guess I should have seen my trip to a hospital in Nepal coming. Spending almost 3 months in a country and having nothing to do with health is contrary to my past experiences. However, I was not prepared for what I saw in the public hospital in Tulsipur Nepal.
As readers of my twitter know I hurt myself playing soccer. I was trying to clear the ball and instead hit the leg of another player. Let’s just say this hurt a lot and I had to stop playing. When I returned home and asked Rachel how the bruise looked and I believe her reaction was “Oh my God, what did you do? It looks like you have an orange under your skin”. This led to an attempt to get ice, which was not successful since I have seen no ice in Tulsiper, but it did result in me buying an ice cream and putting that on my bruise. It did help, though I am pretty sure that the neighborhood thinks I am super weird especially since the next day I found a really cold water bottle and sat outside the store with that on. As the week went by the notch stayed though it eventually became merely golf ball sized and the bruising became a wonderfully purplish color. After about a week of this, it still hurt while I walked. Many became convinced I had a hairline fracture and needed to go to the doctor. This is how I ended up at the government hospital is Tulsipur, Nepal.
Let me start by saying that hospital is what the place is called by everyone and what the sign says. However, it is not like any hospital I know of, it is a dark, damp, overcrowded set of rooms inside a building. As you can see from the pictures taken by Rachel Palmer, who graciously came to document my misery at my request, it is a hospital in the loosest sense of the word. As I make commentary on what I saw I must first say that the government is building a new hospital in Tulsipur that will be done soon. It is supposed to be nicer, but to be honest the only way I can see it being worse is if it doesn’t have a roof. Women who had just given birth were crammed three to a room. In this case room meant cubicle, because a normal size room had been sub divided to hold 3 cubicles all holding 3 women with their babies and their families. I saw hospital beds that were just metal beds with thin mattress, with patients on top of them that were even thinner. For the past 24 hours I have had the image of an elderly lady who was lying in a bed on my way out. This woman was skeletal thin, lying on her side and when I close my eyes I can still see her.
As for my treatment it was handled professionally. I was given an x-ray with no waiting in line for only 150 rupees ($1.70). After the x-ray I had to sit in a big waiting room with everyone else. As I looked around I saw a floor that was dirt in some places and people coughing lining up to get tuberculosis medicine. Everyone was crowding to get a doctor. When I saw him he told me it was only a deep tissue bruise and gave a prescription for the swelling. 90 rupees ($1.02) later I was out of there. The hospital affected me deeply and I cannot express the way that it was. The hospital was like nowhere I have ever been and to be honest like nowhere I ever want to be again. Please continue in part II
Posted By Alex Kelly
Posted Aug 30th, 2012