3:38AM - can’t sleep. We have 6 days left of clinic. For those patients we see only once a week, today will be our final goodbye. A lump forms in my throat as I write these words…I’m not ready to say goodbye. How can I slow down the hands of time…Nepali time? The two months that I’ve been here have flown by. I don’t want these remaining days to go at the same pace. I want to savor every moment. I want to hear more stories. I feel I've only scratched the surface. I want to embrace this beautiful community that has enriched my life so much. The generosity. The kindness. The love. The thoughtfulness. The authenticity to which the Nepalese conduct their lives. I was not anticipating this…and I’m not ready to say goodbye.
I want to know why my hypertensive patient chose the vocation of a Christian pastor. Why deviate from Hinduism or Buddhism? How my cervicalgia patient came to be a seamstress. Was that her childhood dream or a current means to an end? Why does my osteoarthritic patient always wear button down shirts rather than the traditional clothes. Such simple questions but I will always long for the answer if not asked.
The clinic waits in the dark; 4 beds, 12 chairs, 8 mudas, 2 supply cabinets and a small miscellaneous table soon to be filled with 5 practitioners, 100+/- patients, 4 interpreters and 3 students (and one ‘sponsored’ puppy!). My practitioner mind now begins to worry about the same patients but through a different lens. Will he remember the breathing techniques we discussed to ease his stress? Will she stay on her low sugar diet to control her glucose levels? Will he continue self-massage with the anti-inflammatory cream from the pharmacy and follow the dietary recommendations I have provided?
The next camp arrives in September. I hope my patients return. I hope the next group of practitioners can read my chart notes, understand my treatment plan (if one was provided - oops) and give my patients the love I tried to bestow upon them. I’m not ready to say goodbye. I have fallen in love with this community. Pretty good marketing strategy on Acupuncture Relief Project’s part - make em fall in love and they’ll be back! I hope so…but for now and the remaining 6 days of clinic I will offer my professional services as an acupuncturist, my compassion and empathy as a sentient being and my heart as a curious child with a vulnerable soul. Thank you Nepal :) --- Angela Freeman