Stepping off the plane into Kathmandu immediately put my senses on overload. Trash everywhere, burn piles in the streets, dusty haze hanging still in the air, beggars that make your heart contract, ragged stray dogs balding and weak. The traffic is horrendous, some sort of organized chaos that takes your breath away in more ways than one. Kathmandu city is notably loud and Nepal's winter is so so cold, without any escape.
... And yet, there is so much priceless beauty in the peoples eyes and in these sacred temples that it just stops you in your tracks.
After our adventure in the big city, we arrive to Chapagaon and I feel appreciative of the farmlands that surround our landscape here. Right away we head on a walk to become familiar with the neighborhood. The roads are more like what you might find on a backpacking trip, rocky terrain and slippery slopes, though littered with plastic wrappers. Around the backside of the clinic there are seemingly endless terraced farmlands. This time a year these gardens are filled with either mustard greens, bolting yellow mustard flowers, emerald green scallions or 2 foot tall fava beans. The majority of the fields have been covered in a cover crop until this last week. Now they are all transforming into rows waiting to be seeded. I take this as a hopeful sign that warmer weather is to come.
The day before beginning to treat, we are braced with a few questions to think about. What good is your compassion here without any wisdom? That question resonates inside, turning my stomach over on itself with the responsibility I feel for being a Doctor here. Understanding the difference between Treatment vs. Care and what exactly we are here to do. Its not a matter of how good our needle technique or Chinese Medical theory is. Instead we are here to see a larger picture of how to give our patients their best care. While doing so, holding both compassion and wisdom at the forefront. The compassion to be present and the wisdom to know when to treat and when to send out for the appropriate care.
Now we are three weeks in and I realize the magical exchange that happens within these clinic walls. Sinking into the flow, i feel as though I have had a moment to reflect for the first time. For the first few weeks, I felt as though hit by an emotional truck. The initial impact of the patients stories have hung heavy in my heart and I felt unclear how exactly to digest it all. Then one morning this week it became clear, that this is a mutual experience of giving and learning. I am here to heal and grow just as much as the patients coming into our clinic. This lifts the foggy veil of responsibility that has clouded my mind and allows me to work from a clarity. Only in this way will I be able to interact from a place of wisdom and compassion, delivering the best care i can give. --- Emma Goulart