Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The night before Langtang

It is Wednesday evening and I am back in Kathmandu.  We leave early in the morning for a long drive up for our Langtang trekking adventure (here).  This morning the other girls in Kogate met us in Bhimphedi and we took a sumo drive into Kathmandu.  We all look a little rough and needing some time off.  Upon arrival at our hotel at the Earthhouse, I went shopping for some last minute needs for colder temps.  It is still quite warm in Bhimphedi, so I am looking forward to some change in weather and some mountains.  I had a hot shower today and was able to sit on a western toilet.  That was really something special.  We went to dinner together and I decided to take off by myself afterwards to grab a late night Jameson (or two) at a lovely cafe nearby playing some light jazz and type this blog.  There is only the waiter and a couple off in the distance.  It is bliss.  Kathmandu is quite filled with tourists when 3 weeks ago we were the only other Westerners about it seemed.  Supposedly when we come back here in November before we leave it will be prime trekking season and there will be even more folks about.  I feel a bit more comfortable here in the city this time around.  A bit less overwhelmed perhaps.  I mean we have been in rural Nepal the past couple of weeks, squatting and washing our clothes in a bucket, so anything slightly resembling a touch of comfort is welcome right now.  

Here is a random picture of our beloved peanut butter.  
Now look closely and you will see the cover is a bunch of cows eating what seems to be grilled cheese or cheese sandwiches of some sort.  Now I don't know why this picture might be the best descriptive label for peanut butter, but there you go.  We have one boiled egg, peanut butter and honey with Sel roti (here) every morning for breakfast.  Nepali donuts... yum.  

It was decided that the 3 current practitioners stay in Kogate and the 3 of us currently in Bhimphedi stay put after our trek for patient continuity.  While initially annoyed, I realized the importance of it and the fact is we do have our own things going on already, different personalities, etc...  I am sad to not get a bit closer with the others or have the experience and slightly more peaceful environment out there, but I am thankful for Anna, Patty, our interpreters and of course our house mom, Krishna, who already has sewed us clothes and takes great care of us!  I know we all have challenges, and this is the way it played out and at this point just wanting to go with the flow, whether out of exhaustion or just not wanting to deal with additional stress.  We are starting to recognize patients on the streets now in town and follow up visits seem to be finding much relief for many.  It does seem more welcoming there, but we all have been awful homesick lately.  Perhaps this is what happens 3 weeks in.  It is almost that we are dragging ourselves into the clinic each day,  still seeing 60-plus patients between the three of us, working out of boxes and looks like we will not be moving into the building we first thought, which means we have to wander down the road for a bathroom when we need it, if we find the time for a bathroom break during our busy day.  We have been coming home exhausted.  Andrew wants us to head to Kogate each weekend, which requires us packing, getting on a packed bus both ways.  It basically is just a good amount of transit which makes things a bit more physically challenging for us considering we still are getting about 5 to 6 hours sleep each night.  Of course there is the option of walking back and forth and last weekend Anna and I decided we would rather walk than bus there.  It is no lie when I say the walk there is straight up... 3000 feet elevation gain.  We started at 2PM and realized at 3 or so we were walking the wrong way so we backtracked.  We thought we might make it there by 8PM.  We were told there would be short cuts that delete some switchbacks, but we were a little weary and just wanted to follow the road.  Low on water and overall energy, I was hurting. Eating mostly rice and carbs and not too much protein really showed.  All of the sudden while taking a break against a rock, one of our interpreters jumped out and said 'hey!, we saw you from way up high and that you made the wrong turn".  By this time it was getting dark and he was walking us the rest of the way.  But the shortcut was straight up, and I mean switchback straight up.  It took us about 40 minutes just going straight up this cliff with leeches falling on us and the most huffing and puffing I have ever done.  We met the director and other interpreter at the top, and they said we still had another hour to go.  If we had missed that shortcut, we would not have made it to Kogate until 12AM.  Needless to say we made it back in the rain and dark. I had one big leech on my back and a couple in my shoes, but that was basically it.  We stayed two nights in Kogate and took the bus back Sunday morning... an early morning packed bus ride and straight into clinic to treat patients.  Eat, sleep and treat.  That never changes. That is what YOU payed good money for, all you donors!

There is no question we are all working very hard out here and how necessary this break is for all of us. I am looking forward to enjoying some incredible views and fresh air while giving myself an attitude adjustment.  We come back to only 3.5 more weeks to try and get our patients better as well as preparing a case study which I really want to strive hard to accomplish and do well at.  I have a few patients in mind... stroke victim, amenorrhea patient trying to become pregnant, and a dupuytrens case.  I had a break through on Monday I feel.  It was the day when I was feeling quite ill with a throat infection, tooth ache and possible ear infection, but I realized I was excited to see my patients, and truly invested on them getting better.  We have been told this is the hardest year for ARP, and most challenging for opening a new clinic and I wish it was a bit easier, but I think that day finally kicked something into gear for me, like this is it.  This is what it is.  Your back is going to hurt, you are going to eat a lot of carbs and less protein, there is going to be early morning wake up calls, that cow might wander back into the clinic room again, the internet is never going to happen, the electricity will continue to go off and on and you might pee on your leg when you go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and that's OK.  I want to come back from the trek and do my best, get some yoga in, learn how to make Raksi (here), soak in all I can and bring back all of these things I am experiencing into my practice and share all I can with my loved ones so that I may be a better person.  It is pretty simple when you think about it.  Just be kind and not an asshole.

So not the most illuminating entry this time.  Blame it on the Jameson(s) if you will, but I know it is important to keep sharing my thoughts and not to sugar coat this.  Life is hard here. People carry 50 pounds of grain on their freaking heads. 

I am off to see some fucking mountains.  Picard out.

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