I was assigned to accompany Daisy, a staff nurse, on home visits today. Meg, another Marquette student, and I set off in vans on a bumpy ride to a pueblo, or small village. The desert air here is hot and dusty, and it doesn’t get much better when we leave the city and drive twenty minutes into the outskirts. The only road leading into this particular pueblo is a dirt one, and extremely rough. I learned from Daisy that normally, cars will not come here. If villagers need immediate medical care or general supplies for everyday life, they must walk 40 minutes to town. The nearest school is a half hour walk away, and small children make the trek daily.
To say that these people are poor is an understatement. The thatched roofs and dirt floors are common living conditions for most in the area. Having a concrete floor and a roof that lacks holes is a privilege. The first home we visited was just like this, and had an open fire in the back room to cook with. The smoke filled the living quarters (and our eyes) as we walked through the home to meet the owners. We were introduced to our first patients, a husband and wife with no children. The man, Jose, had arthritis so badly that his knees were swollen to the size of baseballs. Our job was to take vital signs on both of them and assist Jose with daily activities, such as cleaning and grooming. As Meg gave him a haircut, I washed his hands and feet and clipped his nails. Jose and his wife were so grateful for our actions, and their smiles expressed this perfectly.
Washing Jose's hands
Our next home visit was with a woman named Rufina, who had knee surgery and has trouble getting around her house. She was overjoyed with the fact we were washing the caked dirt off her feet and clipping her toenails. It is simple actions like this and people like Jose and Rufina that give heart to nursing. Building relationships with clients is a wonderful thing, and is one of many aspects of nursing that I fell in love with. Here in Piura, people are so happy, regardless of socioeconomic status. I am honored to be working with such amazing people, and I can’t help but think their happiness is rubbing off on me.
With Rufina in her home
Our plans for the rest of the day consist of visiting the Piura’s nursing home. We will probably be assisting them with stretching or any other activity that helps them to get moving. Some of the people can’t feed themselves, so we will be helping them with this as well. There’s so much more to come from a fantastic first day!