Mzuzu Central Hospital 6/10
Wax, perforations, and more wax. That seems to be the theme of our trip as we continue to work at Mzuzu Central hospital. Everyday we assign jobs and the ones that everyone is eager to take are the ones that involve the grossest duties. Why? For some of us, these jobs are fun, for some they’re great learning experiences, and for some of us these jobs are entertaining. It’s always a mystery going into a patient’s ear for the first time, you never know what you’re going to find. Today’s findings included clumps of wax and dried pus.
Today’s clinic ran smoothly with some minor hiccups along the way. The most memorable of the day occurred early on when we lost all power in the room where we hold our clinic. Our hearing aid equipment immediately shut down leaving us confused and scared. Luckily all the other stations could run without electrical power and we could proceed with testing until the power came back. A fun fact about this incident we all discovered was that in Malawi to have power an individual must pay for electrical units, when those units run out you must go back and pay for more to keep the power running. Similar to a phone that runs on prepaid phone cards, when the minutes are all used you just reload by paying for more minutes. Finally after a few hours we got the power running and we could fit our patients with hearing aids.
Seeing a patient’s face light up with a big smile when their hearing aid is turned on and they can hear is why we do our jobs. It’s such an amazing experience that we as audiologists and audiology students cannot explain yet enjoy the most. Today we were able to share this experience with many of our patients and their families. It’s team effort to achieve this final goal. It begins with a case history, followed by lots of testing, then hearing aid programming and temporary earmold fabrication, and finally the actuall fitting. We all play a crucial role in this process and we collectively share the excitement and joy when a patient finally gets hearing aids and is overwhelmed with happiness. None of us may be able to speak Chechewa yet a big smile is plenty to tell us that our patients are happy. And that’s all we need. As the sun sets upon the hill we’re rewarded by a Malawian sunset, we all look at each other, laugh and smile, give each other a round of high-fives and call it another successful day. It’s still unbelievable to us that we’re in Africa doing what we love and helping people but when days like today happen we realize why we do all this, we do it for our patients and their smiles are payment enough.