Loud and Yet the Silence is Deafening

Crickets are loud…

Especially when there are millions of them echoing off mountain peaks…

It was yet another day just begging for a number of stinging nettle encounters and half-assed tumbles/slides down hillsides. Not that we don’t love it here, however we are discovering all the things to avoid through practical experience… multiple times. Unfortunately this includes plant materials, substrate, and insects who appear to have a hate-on for Canadian veterinarians.

That said… the people seem to love having us here – especially since we appear to also be fodder for much laughter on their parts. We are actually very proud of our workshop trainees – they did a phenomenal job, and were very engaged throughout the entire experience.

Today began with utter confusion as we had absolutely no idea what time we were starting or if there would even be any patients. But since we figured that maybe it should start at the same time as the workshop had, perhaps we would aim to be there by 10am. So we left for our “10 minute walk” at 9:15am… since we have discovered that here in Nepal you multiply length of distance in minutes by 5 to 10. We got there at 9:50am 😉

Only to discover that the trainees (hereafter called dwarves) figured it was starting at 10:30am (which means they wouldn’t be there until 11 or 11:30am). This meant that Tonic had time to head up the mountain to check on an immovable buffalo, while Gin attempted to get organised. By the time Tonic got back, two of the five dwarves had arrived and they and Gin had seen 5 patients. Tonic’s arrival coincided with the appearance of the rest of the group. This meant that after a quick briefing, the entire show was off to a crazy start.

The focus of having the dwarves really practice everything they learned meant that things were sometimes painfully slow, however by the end of the day things had settled into a working rhythm that resembled something similar to organised chaos. But people were happy (except those we told their animals were likely to die), dwarves were happy (except for the one whose animal had a deformed testicle), children were happy (except for the ones who got told off for running straight through the examination area and causing a mini-stampede), and we were happy (except when getting gored by rambunctious mini-goats).

Despite the fact that we truly feel that farmers generally know their animals well, there were many times when we had to simply put our foot down and say “no…. this is NOT normal… and I took an oath… I am now a doctor… and I cannot say this is normal. You might not need to worry about it… but… it’s not okay.” This was generally in response to being told that “this is normal in Nepal….” Cause no…. retained testicles are never normal…. Umbilical hernias are never normal…. Deformed or missing epididymi are never normal…. Anemia is never normal…. Etc….

Once the clinic wrapped up (and of course we ended with a herd of 12 goats… all suffering from diarrhea and coughing), we headed over to the house of one of the dwarves, where his buffalo had been speared in the inner thigh with a bamboo. He had asked for help cleaning and disinfecting it, as there was no way to do it on his own. Luckily we were able to rig up running water, which made the process a little easier, though we really would have preferred to be able to hobble the bull (to prevent him from kicking). As it was, we created a long handled scrub brush using the same piece of bamboo that had actually speared him, and a surgical Betadine scrub brush. Ironically we were informed that in Nepal bamboo is poisonous – after all, that must be why the wound wasn’t healing. As we were explaining that the wound needed to be kept clean and free of flies, our intrepid trainee decided that included keeping the tail away from it. So he grabbed the scissors he had been given in his training kit and began hacking away at all of the tail end hair…. It was both startling and hilarious at the same time (since that really wasn’t what we meant for him to do… nor the purpose of the scissors). It all worked, he was happy, and yet again we were invited in for tea, requiring that we make the trek back to our house in the dark.

Somehow we had forgotten that this might happen, and had neglected to take our headlamps. This time however, the route was straight down, rather than a zigzag path… which resulted in several slides, some mad scrambles, and a whole lot of praying (Rick would be so proud). We got back to the women of the house doing a mad cleaning (likely because all of the men had been up having tea with us – so they were finally out of everyone’s hair). We tried to hopscotch over their cleaning to avoid disrupting any piles of dirt, and sat down to take a look at the photos from the day. While doing so one of the girls decided to join us, and now we have been christened with new names “Monkey” and “Dog”. We will leave it to you to figure out who is who….

Time for bed,

Love you all…

G&T xoxox


ps… if you don’t hear from us again it is because on a daily basis we discover new and bigger creatures entering our window… It began with tiny ants… then large spiders… and now lizards. While we are fully aware that the natural order of things requires that the ecosystem remain in balance (i.e. the ants will be eaten by the spiders, and the spiders by the lizard), we are somewhat hesitant to discover the next animal as they are increasing in size exponentially….

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