Well, it has been a crazy return since last Friday. I definitely need a few days to relax, but I haven’t really given myself that opportunity. Maybe, I am crazy! Friday night, I had family over for food, gifts, and pictures. I had to complete about four hours of homework for my Saturday clinical and was unable to go to bed until 1am. I had to wake up at 5 in order to leave in time for my clinical session in Gettysburg which was from 9-4:30. I quick ran some errands afterward, and soon after met up with my boyfriend for dinner. Fortunately, I have had a little bit of time to reflect on my two objectives I created before this course began.
I had two objectives coming into this trip that I want to quickly reflect on:
My first goal was not attained as strongly as my second goal. Though I spent a lot of time outwardly discussing insights about patient care in Thai medicine, I did not spend much time documenting these insights in my journal. I hope to do a little more of that here. The first week, we spent time in the government hospital Nakomping Hospital. I learned specific skills such as IV drip rates. Sterile technique with reusable materials. Removing stitches. I was initially disgusted by the lack of pain medications I saw. I documented “In America, we believe that unresolved pain can lead to issues such as impaired recovery from acute illness and surgery, immunosuppression, and potentially sleep disorders; therefore we offer our patients pain medications very often and many patients request for them at least every other hour. In Thailand, I have noticed that the Thai people are very strong and resilient to pain. When discussing concerns with one patient, he stated that his pain was a 5 out of 10. His headache was consistent (no change) since the accident. He did not take pain medication nor had he taken any during his admission, like many other patients on the ward. Not taking these medications lowers the risk of medication side affects with overuse such as bleeding stomach ulcers.” I was reminded that I need to take into consideration all sides of medication. I need to see with eyes of learning not of improvement.
I was amazed to see the teamwork on these floors. I felt that the nurses seemed less stressed out because of this collaboration. This of course affects patient interaction and holistic care. If a nurse is more relaxed, she is less likely to make calculation mistakes because she is better able to process information. She is able to spend more time talking with patients and hearing concerns. She is able to treat patients with more respect instead of acting-out during a stressful moment. There is a general respect shared between the Thai people, especially patient and nurse. I hope to take this back to the floors of American hospitals. It is important that we create a team of nurses that are less stressed and therefore able to provide better care. As noted before, I appreciated the way the nurses broke up patient care. “They split into three teams, and therefore required a lot of teamwork which was actually very productive. The ward was much calmer than a hospital floor in the states. Nurses took lots of breaks and often sat down during the shift, something I rarely get to experience at work as a nurse aide. I can’t imagine the “burnout” rate is as bad since nurses are given more of a leisurely laid back work environment. But, then again, just a few days in the hospital does not show the whole picture of what it is really like to work in this setting.”
Our second week, we went into the community. Again I noticed the respect of Thai people for one another through our experience with the Donkeaw Health Center. The first home we went to was of a lady in her early 60s. She had been in a car accident about 20 years ago and was pulled out of her care without precaution. She had a spinal injury which lead to paralysis due to mishandling during rescue. As mentioned before, her home health aid had worked with her for 17 years. This is an amazing amount of time since in America there is a constant turnover in home health aids. Again, it shows the strength of relationships. There is an ingrained value within these people to care for one another. It is less about oneself and more about the community as whole. If there is a need, it needs to be met. This was even seen by the community involvement with this lady. During transfers, different people from the community volunteer to help lift her from place to place so that she can get up out of bed during the day and rest in the bed at night. This all stems from the system set-up by Donkeaw Hospital. It was based on community help, going form home to home surveying the needs of those in the community. I want to continue to process and seek ways that we too in America can bring community-oriented values to our towns and cities. How can we encourage our people to volunteer their hours as a normal way of life rather than an extra “thing to do.”
I was able to meet my second objective a little bit more conclusively and with more detail. Overall, I was able to comment on one notable value that appeared to drive the Thai people that I met and worked with in addition to the people I interacted on through my brief travels here and there in each journal entry. The one that stuck out to me the most was their ability to love quickly and unconditionally. This value reflected my thoughts and actions as soon as I got home and had “life reflection/catch-up time” with my boyfriend. I did not spend a lot of time discussing Thailand but rather fears that came up for both of us during our time apart. We both have experience with spending time apart only to come back to someone who was much different and no longer wanted to be with us. There was definitely fear of the unknown and change. I again was encouraged to love the way I had learned to love in Thailand: unconditionally. Though in the past fear in a relationship presented to me as weakness, I stepped back to consider all that was going on. No fear of losing someone isn’t bad. If anything it was an awesome opportunity to express my love, to show that I am there for people in the thick and thin. It was excited to be able to show the love I had received and to recognize that growth I have had since my last abroad experience in 2015. I was completely a different person this time around but in a good way. I had come through chaos to learn who I am and how to be consistent. I learned how to love with the help of God and from the influence of those I have met through my international travels. My life is not about my successes but rather the people I meet, influence, and love. They have become my priority. This brought even more though as I entered my community rotation on Saturday through Survivors, Inc. I finally felt like I was in my element — psychology, advocacy, and a desire for justice and love for God’s people. What does life mean to me? What actually matters? Can I give up the comfort of the hospital nurses’ income to work for justice advocacy for women and men affected by trafficking? Abuse? I know that these are missions God has set on my heart, and I cannot wait to use them. Just maybe, I will be able to take these lessons back to Thailand in a full circle. I’ve been dreaming this week and feel encouraged to follow my heart, dreams, and passions. Life is short, and I want to live it to its fullest. I am now looking into programs to work with those affected by trafficking and hoping to take these skills back to the red-light distracts in Thailand. I continue to evaluate the effects of this trip on my actions and mind-set, which for me often takes months to unfold. For now, I recognize that it has encouraged me to fully step into my passions, to love people unconditionally. I cannot wait to continue to reflect on the changes in my life and am fully open to the goodness of these changes.