Thursday, 18 November 2010

Uganda Wishes – Lab Speak

Doesn’t bother me the sight of a needle and getting blood withdrawn. So I was ok to help out in the Lab at the AIDS clinic at Mengo Hospital. Christopher is in charge. I helped him write down patient files and transfer information from one place to another. I was told it was a slow day. He handled it with ease.
I recall getting blood not long before I left Canada. In Canada we have a fancy seat with flat arm rests. One for each arm. At Mengo there is a plastic outdoor garden chair.
Patients are asked to roll up a sleeve. Then for the turn-key a latex plastic glove is wrapped around the arm. The disinfectant comes from a bottle without a spout that he has to tip upside down. There’s a waste box separate to other waste for the needles.
HIV tests are done on the spot. Of the ten that day, seven were positive. One a teenage boy.
I asked Christopher if the numbers are decreasing.
HIV is quite expensive,” he said. Adding, he didn’t feel things were improving very fast. Because those infected often fail to tell their partners and go out and taint others.
This made me sad. I had hoped differently.
So I asked him what his wish was for Uganda.
“To have a better life without HIV.”
He had to take some sputum samples from TB patients. Many with HIV also become infected with TB.
Then Marisa came for her blood test. Her mother went first. When an HIV person is diagnosed their CD4 levels are monitored. Marisa started screaming even before the needle came out. She’s three and a half years old. I took her baby brother in my arms and tried to take her mind off things with the only doll like object in the room. Not a chance. After a patient five minutes of screams the blood came out. Didn’t make her happy. Up came all the papaya she’d eaten before she’d arrived.
I told her she was a brave girl.
I asked Christopher another question. This one his wish for the world. He responded with really? You want to know?
Yes, yes I said.
“We need a peaceful life. Without fear of terror,” he said. “Wars have caused a lot of problem. What we put up today, is destroyed tomorrow. We keep on regressing.”
So true I thought. So true.
Yet on this day there was hope. The HIV patients that come to the clinic have it. They have the medication.
Here at Mengo, while they wait for their appointments a nurse speaks with a white board. There is education. The spread of knowledge. To pass on.
It’s a good thing there is an AIDS clinic at Mengo Hospital.
It’s a good thing the people come. 169 by 2 p.m. today.
Who knows how many more tomorrow…

No comments: