I have not written much in a few days because we work from 8-6 everyday treating hundreds of patients. I am too tired at night to write and when I open my computer the bugs swarm the screen and I cannot find it.
The first day, because of the culture’s respect for elders all we saw was the very old and worn down. Each person had arthritis and eye trouble, often cataracts. Although I knew we could bring them a little short term relief I started to question the value of our mission. Were we creating pill poppers and doing little for the longterm health of the region?
The second day we started seeing cases that we could actually help. Infections, worms, dysentery.
One woman was carried in with an apparent stroke. She was in a coma. She had been to the clinic in Ingall 32k distant and had been brought here in hopes the American doctor could work a miracle. It was far beyond our capabilities and we knew she needed to be evacuated to the hospital in Agadez. There is an ambulance available to the clinic she had just come from in Ingall for a fee of $80. We sent a motorcycle in to Ingall with the money to ask them to send the ambulance. They refused saying that to follow proper procedure she had to come back to the clinic and be evacuated from there. We are not talking comfortable patient conditions. Evacuation is in the back of a pick up. I was so furious that this human being was being treated as so much baggage, but got an idea of why we have so many hundreds of patients here in hope of receiving some sort of humane treatment.