Day Two (and Some of One): J Jeharajah, MD

We first landed close to midnight in local Tanzanian time and were enveloped in darkness on our arrival, the sky illuminated by countless twinkling stars and constellations. It wasn’t until the next morning, however, that I realized we were in Africa. Waking up in the morning and seeing such a lush landscape has truly been awe-inspiring. The one thing I’ve learned so far in my time here is not to be surprised be anything. We’ve seen everything from walking to breakfast along the trail at our lodge in Moivaro with monkeys scuttering along tree branches above to showing up to a local clinic with over a hundred people lined up outside. Most people back home don’t know what it’s like to travel and not have access to WiFi, a fully stocked wet bar, and rose petals on their pillows every morning with turn down service. Fortunately, neither do we.

All kidding aside, clinic life in Tanzania has been perhaps the most astounding part thus far. In a country with limited resources and access to consistent care, there is a remarkable dichotomy between theoretical medicine and realistic practice. Back in the states a patient with a systolic blood pressure in the 250s and complaints of blurry vision and headache would be admitted to the hospital for aggressive blood pressure control and to run labs to check for evidence of end organ damage. Here the same patient is give a few days of an oral anti-hypertensive and encouraged to follow up at a local clinic for continuity. And yet the gratefulness in the eyes of patients at just having even able to see and talk with a physician can’t be overstated. We’re not likely to change the way medicine is practiced here, but hopefully we can make a difference to a few people along the way. We’re only at the start of this adventure, but being here already feels like becoming a part of something bigger than ourselves.

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