It’s been one week in Nepal and 3 days of clinic in Bajra Baraji. I’ve gone through so many emotions and learned so much about practicing primary care in a rural area. It’s been amazing but I have to admit that the first day of clinic was tough. That little voice in my head started saying stuff like, “You’re not a good enough practitioner, you don’t know enough, you can’t help anyone!” It’s hard enough to not let that voice rule over my thoughts in the best of times, let alone completely out of my element in a new country. I felt in over my head, seeing things like ear infections, gnarly wounds, ulcers and so many things I would refer out to a medical doctor back home. I was told the first week was going to be the hardest but I didn’t think that first day would end in tears. I barely made it to my room to wrap myself up in my zero degree bag to take some time to write in my journal.
In our ARP clinic guide, it says “Trust The Process”, and that’s exactly what I needed to do at that moment: allow whatever was to just be. So I allowed myself to feel it all, the uncertainty, the loneliness, the self doubt. I closed my eyes and let those emotions fill my whole being. I began to imagine an older version of myself, the one who has been changed by this experience, who has been through this before. She knows you cannot heal the things you cannot feel, and she places her arms around me. I breathe out loving kindness and compassion to myself and the capacity grows. I am able to tend to myself like I would a child, pick myself up and hold tight; I am exactly where I need to be right now.
I woke up the next day feeling changed, stronger and more centered. It was Saturday, our day off from clinic. I was going to put all my things away, make a little home here, do some laundry and go for a hike in the hills. I love being in nature and was excited to see what was growing in the forested slopes I can see all around us at the clinic. On my way to meet up with the group, I had to hop over a small ditch, and I’m still not sure what happened except I hopped and then ended up face planting right into the ground. I was stunned. I think I had my hands in my pockets because my chin took the brunt of the fall. Immediately, folks from the village who were passing by ran up to help me. I felt ridiculous falling down like that, I hadn’t even reached the hills yet! But as I repeated “Thank you, thank you, I’m ok, I’m ok!” I could see the concern on their faces and got that sick feeling when you realize you hurt yourself more than you thought. I could feel something warm and wet running down my chin and the front of my jacket, I felt in my mouth, my lip was split.
A former version of myself would have been furious with me at this point, but after my grounding session the night before I knew that being hard on myself was the last thing I needed at this point. I got back up to the clinic and called out to my supervisor, Bex. She took one look, “Yeah, that’s gonna need four stitches.” She was close, I got three.
I’m on the mend now, taking a round of antibiotics and alternating between herbal washes and slatherings of neosporin. I know this happened for a reason, I don’t know the reason right now but I’m trusting the process. I told Lila, the health post assistant, who gave me the stitches and was very concerned for me, “No worries, I’ve had worse!” And it’s true. I’ve had a compound femur fracture, broken bones in both feet and both wrists, knee surgeries and a few laparoscopic surgeries. My body is covered in scars. One of my favorite authors, Clarissa Pinkola Estes says, “Be proud of the things you have endured. The scars are like a treasure map to the self, the deep self.” As I run my fingers across the scars on my body and feel for those healed wounds that you cannot see, I am proud. I am one of many wounded healers in this world. I look to my patients, I run my hands across their scarred bodies, see the things they have endured and am in awe. What I learn here will completely change who I am as a person and as an acupuncturist and will reverberate into so many areas of my life I cannot even begin to understand. I try to keep this in mind each day as I enter the clinic and allow this process to unfold. -- Lucy Kervin