After living in Bajrabahari at the Acupuncture Relief Project headquarters for 3-1/2 months it has become my home. As I think about my “other home” in Portland Oregon it seems like a lifetime away. I never thought I would get use to living here but now I cannot imagine anything different. Elissa, Andrew, Tsering, Bibek, Didi, Chandra, Litle Bimala, Bimala, Gunaraj, Milan, Amrita, Sushila, Sunmaya, Anupa and everyone else all have become my Nepali family. The thought of leaving them in three weeks pulls deeply at my heart. But it is not only them that I will be saying goodbye too. After seeing many of my patients 2-3 times a week for this long has created a bond that I hope to never forget.
In the beginning of my clinic camp, the patients were wary of us as "the new doctors”. However, once the patient/practitioner relationship forms, they start to tell you more and more about why they are here, that story turns into more stories of their life, A bond starts to form. Everyday in clinic I look forward to our "Namaste" exchange and to hear the continued story. My favorite days are when they tell me about their families and how many animals they have. Two of my patients have continued to ask me to visit their homes on Saturdays. This is not an easy task, as I need to find an interpreter who will take me on their day off and also one who knows where they live.
This past Saturday, Gunaraj (a senior interpreter) agreed to take me on his motorcycle and visit two of my patients that live in the same village about 15 minutes drive from the clinic. Once we arrived at the first house I was instantly reminded that I should have not had lunch before we left. Immediately my patient was handing me two full plates of food and told me to eat. One plate of Dal Baht another place of rice pudding and fried doe, both piled high. Once Gunarj and I ate, she sat down and held my hand. We talked about her family and whom she lives with: husband, son, daughter in law and two grandsons. We talked about her pain and also me leaving. She asked me twice to take her back to America with me. She said she would love to go to America and take care of me. We both laughed and smiled at each other.
The second house was up the hill from where we were. I jumped on back of the motorcycle and held on tight, as it was a bumpy and steep road. As soon as we arrived, my patient came out and said she had been watching the road all day, as she was excited for my arrival. She invited us in and told us to sit. She instantly went to her stove and started warming up friend doe patties and a potato curry. Her mother, whom she lives with joined us as well. I began eating another big plate of food plus she gave us sweet tea with milk. We talked about her home and her animals. She asked questions about my family, if I had kids and if I was married. She was disappointed on my answers but said I am still beautiful and young and have time. She explained how it use to take her two hours to walk to the clinic and now she can get there in one hour because her knee’s are less painful. She told me how sad she was for me to go and disappointed that she cannot call me because we do not speak the same language. We took pictures, held hands and talked about her garden.
Reflecting on this day, I am overwhelmed with so much Love for my patients and my experience in Nepal. These four months have forever changed my life and I hope to come back again very soon. ---Warmest Namaste, Kallie Harrison RN, LAc, McAOM