Blog 5: Doc in Pakistan
(Dr. Wasel Kabir is a Canadian physician who is volunteering to help Pakistanis affected by the floods. It is the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Dr. Kabir is blogging exclusively for Day 6.)
DR. WASEL KABIR'S PAKISTAN BLOG
Day 5: Hot Day (September 6)
DR. WASEL KABIR'S
PAKISTAN BLOG Day 5: Hot Day (September 6)
Last night, after running out of crucial medications, the team (myself, Dr. Farhan Siddiqi, Dr. Adeel Sheikh and Dr. Samad Zubairi) pooled our finances along with some generous donations from friends and family back home in Canada. We headed out to the market and purchased enough pharmaceuticals to completely stockpile the pickup truck. A little goes a very long way here. It is a shame that medication is so reasonable financially and available, yet people are suffering and forced to go without.
We are so grateful to anyone that donated even a cent. Your money has done more than you can possibly imagine.
My purchasing power drastically diminished as I discovered that my wallet had gone missing!
I immediately cancelled my credit cards. I was calm knowing that everything could be replaced, except one thing-my Pakistani identity card (visa equivalent)! Hit with the realization that I may need it to exit the country, my calm instantly vanished.
It looked like my stay here would be extended-indefinitely!
I have never lost my wallet before. And the one time I do, it just happens to occur at the worst possible time. My only solace is that perhaps, the person who took/found it, is benefiting from the tens of thousands of rupies, by feeding and providing for their own family.
The heat was merciless today. It pounded me. I sweat a lot in the gym, but this is unbelievable. I am something akin to an open faucet.
I have no idea why I feel the need to share this. It is pretty gross and there are so many other things to mention. The thing is, usually this sort of thing would be so uncomfortable. But somehow, working here, seeing the people, helping them, I forget all about it. Only when I stop do I yearn for a shower.
I just don't know how the people can live in this heat with no air conditioning and without drinking glasses filled with ice and Coke Zero! Yes. I am spoiled. It is indeed shameful. But this is a true testament to their resilience.
We went to another village. Nothing but miles of flooded fields were visible on the other side of the embankment, that lay on the outskirts of the village. The embankment itself a haze of brown owing to the tents pitched upon it. These particular tents were made from raw materials found in the immediate area. Their roofs, simply made of horizontal branches covered by leaves and shrubbery, supported by beams that were little more than thin tree branches or random sticks.
The residents mostly sat on the ground or if fortunate enough had cots. They bathed in the adjacent floodwaters. Where do you think they went to the bathroom?
We saw upwards of 420 patients, quickly depleting our medicinal supply. We have to get more today for tomorrow.
All of the people were truly respectful towards us. Not one of them badgered any one of us. They would attentively listen to what we said. It was evident they were sincerely seeking help.
Sadly, we had cases where we simply could not help the patient due to the unavailability of certain medications or the complete lack of facility. Our hands were tied; the best we could do was offer pain relief and nutritional supplementation.
One such case involved, an adorable little 3-year-old boy in obvious discomfort, carried by his young father. He had an ear infection and had tried numerous therapies without resolve. Normally, an easy infection to treat but as circumstance would have it, we were completely out of antibiotics. All we had left to offer were analgesic eardrops, which they had already tried. His father knew it would be ineffective. Yet, he graciously accepted the drops, smiled and went on his way with his cute boy in hand.
He will be back next time looking for hope.
(corrected on September 20)