Hello there, this is Dr. Tom Dooley, sending you my weekly tape recording from the kingdom of Laos, here on the left hand side of the world. As I promised you last week, this is the morning that I am inviting you to spend with us. This is the morning, though it's Sunday evening there in America, this is the morning that I'm asking you to stay here on the side of us during the sick call, or at least for twelve minutes and thirty seconds of our sick call. You may not like it, it's kind of noisy here, and the long line of sick and wretched can sometime be depressing, but we all try to maintain that sense of humor and some equilibrium. And in all, we enjoy the madness of this clinic. We hold no private consultations here, these Asians freely discuss their ills and the bigger the audience, the more flamboyant their descriptions can be. Also, when we talk to them explaining why they have this sickness and what germs are all about and why they must use soap, then not only the patient himself learns, but the listening audience learns, too. Though hardly approved by the American Medical Association's Board of Ethics, we find this system most efficacious, at least in the high jungles of Laos. Let me describe the room that we're sitting in. It's a rectangular-shaped room with a door at one end and a window at the other. I'm sitting up against the window facing the door. On each side of the room are long chests of medicines and shelves of medicines. At the midpoint of each one of the side walls there is a chair. There is a piece of bamboo on the floor about midway and on the other side of the bamboo towards the entrance door are thirty-five to forty patients outside on the front porch and on the front lawn. There are another twenty-five or thirty waiting for their turn in sick call. On each side of me are sitting interpretors for the various dialects. I can speak Lao adequately but I cannot say one word in Chinese, ______, _______, ___________, or any of the other dialects. The interpreters sitting with me right now are ________ and _______. The sick person comes to us and sits in a chair right in front of me and we discuss his problem and then we send him to one of these chairs back at the midpoints on either side of the room and there our Lao students pass out the medicines. That is to say that if a woman needed terramyacin, I merely tell one of the nurses, "Give him terramyacin." The patient leaves the chair, sits on the side and the Lao nurse gives the medicine to the Lao. He gives twelve pills, he explains to take four a day, etc., etc. I believe that this system of the Lao explaining and aiding the Lao is better than we doing it as Americans. The students here today on each side are ________ and _______, in the military corporate school, and _______ and ______, two girls who are studying with us: In the room to my right are other students, _________ and _______,who will work there doing dressings with Dwight Davis. If a patient needs dressings, I send them in to that room or frequently they come directly into that room to have dressing or small minor surgical procedures done, which Dwight does. In the other room is Earl Ryan with two other students, I think, I don't know who is in there today, I think he has _________. They give out the shots, the medicines by inoculations. That is pretty well the lineup before us today. Now, won't you join us? All the patients are eyeing me very suspiciously as I talk into this microphone. They are not quite sure what's up. We will explain to them, put the microphone here on the table beside us and ask you to join us at a sick call clinic here in the village of Muong Sing on the China border in Southeast Asia.
Okay, what about the guy with the hand?
(speaks in Lao) A man came in here with his hand bloated and swollen up
and he jammed a bamboo splinter into it ten days ago and he hasn't got
a chance to get here. It's covered with some sort of a grass mixture and
manure, and I suppose tobacco, and it's bloated badly. We'll send him
into the dressing room and soak it and later open it up. (speaks in Lao)
This lady comes up, sits down here with her left eye all blown up. (speaks
in Lao) Did something get into it? Nothing is stinging. This girl, this
is a common ailment here, they think that air is coming out of their eye.
When they get a sore eye they claim that air is coming out of it. What
she really has is _________, probably due to glaucoma. Anyway, we can
treat it. This is a young Chinese man who speaks __________. He's Chinese,
so we have to speak through a Chinese interpretor. He has fever, just
yesterday afternoon. She never got anything into her eye, did she? Ullah
is trying to give the medicine to the woman, but she says no, it won't
help. Give it to her for about three days and have her come back in three
or four days. (speaks in Lao) The mother is coming up with the baby lashed
to her front, tied in with sort of a shawl-like papoose style, only carrying
the baby in front. Now I will put my magic hand on the child and there's
the result. (baby cries) He sounds a little stronger than the one in Nam
That! We're not hurting the baby. (speaks in Lao) Oh, baby we're not hurting
you that much! (speaks in Lao) That's the child you know very well from
the book, and my number one interpreter who has been outside having some
of the soldiers clean up the grounds a little bit. We have several interpreters
for the different dialects. The one you are hearing is ________, who I
think is part Thai, part Lao. He usually interprets for the other boys
while ______ is an interpreter for me. Okay, let's go on. My next patient.
You see here, a very very, very old little gal who is completely jaundiced.
Her eyes are just as yellow as they can be. (speaks in Lao) She's French.
There's a Chinese fellow bringing me up a basket of ..... What is it?
Birds. Three little birds in a basket. What kind of birds are they? Oh,
pigeons. Pigeons, I guess he wants me to eat the things. That's part of
the payment here, you know. Any kind of an animal they can get. Tell him
to take the pigeons to the house and give them to _________. Tie a string
to their legs and give the basket back. (speaks in Lao) Give her some
more of that to help her. This little gal with jaundice is just getting
vitamins, that's all. There's not much you can do for infectious hepatitis.
Bring the next patient. This little old man here, a very, very old man
wants _________,he's down on his knees now before us. Get up. No, no,
no. Which is a way of saying "hello" to a _________,which is
me. He's had bilateral cataracts and we're taken one cataract out and
he's a lot better, but now what's his trouble? Tell him that we have sent
to St. Louis, to Ercker's as a matter of fact. I hope you're listening
Ercker! We sent to Ercker's to get some glasses for several of these fellows
who have had cataracts. Tell the old gentleman to wait a few days, wait
a week and we will have some spectacles from America that he can wear
which will help his vision a lot. He`s asked me where the glasses are.
I've told him before. Dr. Vincent Jones is going to get them for us from
Ercker's and mail them out here. Then he'll see. I can't understand a
word he says. Can he speak in Chinese? He says his stomach aches. This
is the little old fella that brought me the birds. He's a refugee who
came down from China two days ago. Up in the Unon area where the Communists
have brought in the communes, there are a tremendous amount of people
suffering from malnutrition. This is another case of them. He's got a
stomach ache because he's got a bloated belly due to probably beri-beri
and a low sodium content. Ah, very good. This lady comes from a village
called Muong Lung on the Chinese border about a five-hour walk from here.
In Muong Lung we have just established a small dispensary, a little q,uonset
but of a dispensary which is being run by one of the graduates of our
school whose name is ___________. And I just asked her if she would get
any medicine from the ___________ and she said, "Oh, yes, _________
gives me medicine all the time." They helped a lot and __________
sent her on down here to us because he can't handle the case. That shows
how fine these youngsters are doing up here in these villages. We stock
and supply these three village dispensaries on the China border and three
on the Burma border. Okay, let's go see what she has. Here is an interesting
child from the mountains. The child is all wrapped up in a black cloth
and stuck in the child's cap is a bough of some sort of a tree, looks
like a mulberry leaf of some sort. And smeared in the baby's face is some
kind of local medicine mixed with, I think, some old-fashioned snot. He's
not a very happy lad. He's completely dehydrated, he's got ________ dysentery.
He must be about two years old. He has about the size and the figure of
a one year old in America. He's a sick, sick little boy. I'm afraid that
that short visit at our sick call might have made many of you in the listening
audience think that our clinic is bedlam. It is in some respects. On the
other hand, it's not unlike clinics held all around America, especially
in the pediatric department. I wish that you could see certain aspects
that I could not in any way transmit across a tape recorder. I wish you
could see the tenderness with which our Lao care for their own people.
I wish you could see how deftly and how excellently Earl Ryan and Dwight
Davis wielded that weapon called "compassion." The work we do
here everyday, seven days out of the week, is made possible by those at
home in St. Louis, in the state of Missouri, and all over America. It
is made possible by those of you who help us. We are nothing but the hands.
The heart for our work is in you. When the people here today have said
to me, __________, or to Earl and Dwight, ________,they are saying the
same to you. To you half a world away. They are saying thanks, thanks
a lot. So long, so long for now.