“A Day in the Life”

Is this title self-explanatory? This is for a typical Tuesday-Friday working at the hospital; Monday’s are different since I go to Mercy Wings instead of the hospital, and weekends are pretty unpredictable. I’ll get to those eventually, though.

7 am: Wake up (sometimes to an alarm, sometimes to the sun beating on my face)

8 am: Leave the house to walk to the hospital

8:15 am: Arrive at work, stand in front of the fan in my room for as long as it takes to calm down my sweating and to be presentable again

8:30 am: Patients begin seeing the nurses, doctors, and social workers…

–The HIV Clinic I work in is free for all patients, along with all of their medication if they’re on ARVs to manage their virus. For each appointment, which are anywhere between every two weeks to every three months, patients see the nurse to have their vital signs taken and then are seen by the doctor. After the doctor, they see a counselor to essentially “check in”. Stress is a risky thing for an already-compromised immune system, coping with the knowledge of having HIV is difficult, adhering to a stringent medication schedule is challenging and takes serious commitment, and life is generally tough. So that’s what I do, and I love it. I see between five and twenty patients each day, depending on how busy the clinic is and on how many of the other social workers are available. Most patients are doing swell, but there are a good number that are very depressed, dealing with shame and guilt of being HIV+; some may be dealing with the daunting idea of telling someone they love of their status, some are stressed at work and afraid their job may compromise their health. No two patients bring the same conversation, which I love. I’ve had a chance for conversation and relationships with, so far, over a hundred patients who have challenged me to understand more about living with HIV, to know when to be brutally honest, when to give some tough-love, and when to just sit and let someone cry. I didn’t know I was going to love counseling so much, but I do. Which is awesome.

12 pm- 1 pm: Lunch with Jess and Monica! #friends

1 pm- 4:30 pm: More patients to be seen in the clinic. Every once and a while a patient on the hospital floor will warrant a request for a social worker, typically from a doctor or nurse. So far most of these “floor-visits” have been women who have had unsuccessful childbirth, but some have been people who just need a person to talk with, or who present a questionable home situation and the nurses/doctor want to make sure they’re fit for discharge.

4:30 pm: Walk home; by this time of day the sun is becoming less fire-y and not so sweat-inducing

4:50 pm: Leave the house to walk to the gym (some connection the Sisters of Mercy here have gives us the opportunity to workout at a gym for free! Its no LA Fitness, but it’s a place where people are active, so its been good enough for us).

5:30 pm-6:30 pm: Sweat more than you can even imagine in different aerobics classes. Like, way more than you can imagine. Why did I ever pay for hot yoga when I could have just sat anywhere in Guyana and touched my toes for free?

6:45 pm: Arrive home from taxi-ing home—we can walk there in the daylight, but have to take a taxi home in the dark; rotate through showers and begin making dinner

Post-Dinner: Sometimes we watch an episode of a TV show that we have on DVD; otherwise, it is typically just reading, journaling and conversation until its gets “too late”

9:30 pm: Usually this is about when I fall asleep because I’m too exhausted to keep my eyes open. So I turn my fan towards my bed and crawl into my mosquito net and sleep until the gang of stray dogs on our street start barking like mad and wake me up in the night.

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