Well I have been home for almost a week now from trekking. When we returned from our trekking in the Annapurna region, the following day the festival of Dashain started. This is one of the longest most celebrated Nepali festivals. It celebrates the triumph of good over evil. This holiday is very similar to our Christmas. Family comes into town, it lasts for 15 days, blessings occur with tika, and money and gifts are given. This week has been a very slow week in the hospital because many patients are sent home for the festival. We only worked three days this week, as the other two were spent celebrating the festival with our families.
I spent one of the days in the tropical medicine ward, which also is an endocrinology ward. Many patients in the tropical ward have the diagnosis of AUFI, acute unknown fever illness, diabetes, typhoid, dengue fever, scrub typhus, and malaria. Most of the patients I saw were positive for scrub typhus. Scrub typhus is a disease caused by bacteria that you get from a chigger, tick, or mite bite. It is often associated with thrombocytopenia, fever, and body aches. The patients receive doxycycline and are under observation for a few days until they can be released from the hospital. On our rounds during the tropical unit many patients complained of being stuck in the hospital during the festival time as this is an important holiday in the Nepali culture. Some of the patients were discharged after rounds, but others were kept for observation hoping to make it home soon. What I thought was interesting was when patients are diagnosed with diabetes they do not go through an education course, or get supplied with educational brochures. In the ICU unit I worked in a few summers ago we had a nurse specialized in diabetes and she would hold education meetings with newly diagnosed patients. The only education they receive is from the doctor during rounds.
The other two days I spent time in the ER. Most of the patients I saw in the ER were motorbike accidents. The traffic here is insane. There are no rules of the road and no stop signs or traffic lights. It is a free for all on the road. Many patients came in with lacerations across their face, or their legs after having fallen off their motorbike. It is also festival season, so drunk driving occurs often which could have been the cause for some of these injuries. We had one patient come in with tuberculosis, but the problem with this is that there are no isolation rooms, there are no N95 masks, there is nothing here to prevent the spread of it. He had a history of TB but from what I could understand he did not take his medications properly. I avoided his area at all costs, not wanting to get TB or spread TB.
On Wednesday of this week it was the day of goat sacrifices. We went around to the houses around our area and watched goats be sacrificed, shaved, butchered, and cooked. It was quite an experience watching these events take place. Family comes into town from other parts of Nepal and it is a huge family affair, very similar to stuffing a thanksgiving turkey in our family. The men all sit outside butchering the goat and drinking beer while the women are inside starting to cook the goat and prepare the meat to eat through out the whole day. For the next few days all the family does is eat goat, drink, and celebrate together. Kids are running around everywhere, receiving gifts from family and friends that come over to eat goat.
Then on Friday it was tika day. At 9:51am we started the tika, which was the set time for all of Nepal. The tika blessing starts with the eldest person in the family so for us it was a 84 year old grandma and she blesses every single person in the family starting with the youngest and money and fruit are given to you once she blesses you. Then the next oldest blesses the whole family, which was my host grandmother and grandfather. This process continues until the youngest couple blesses everyone. It took a total of two hours and half hours for the whole ceremony of tika and blessing. It was really special, and Binod, my host dad, blessed each one of us volunteers and blessed us wishing us the best in our career path, that we will be successful, and the best at what we do. There are so many people here at our house and at the festival activities. But now the festival has started to slow down. Although it lasts for 15 days, we will all be back to work on Monday, and all the shops will open again. Today we will be going to a special luncheon and the Kathmandu director will come down and have lunch with us and bless us with tika again toady.
Tomorrow I will go back to work and start my shift in the ER! Later this week I will upload pictures from my trek in the Annapurna Region.