Clinic Abroad: A world apart in many ways

While on my Clinic Abroad trip to Salvador, Brazil, we spent five days in a make-shift clinic at a hospital. The first day and a half were slow. Mid-day the first day, two news crews came and talked to the lead doctors. We ended up on Brazil’s news. The clips aired on our second day over the lunch hour. The clinic was super busy from then on. When we arrived at the clinic each day thereafter, there were usually 50-100 people waiting for us.

We all got to see many patients with many different conditions. I learned how to read spinal MRIs quite well.

Many people in Salvador had hypertension. It was a common condition to people of all ages. It was fun to adjust different people in many different ways. The hardest part of the clinic experience was getting the patients to relax. They didn’t quite understand what they were supposed to do.

There were people of all ages with different conditions in clinic so we were able to learn about many conditions. The elderly all had osteoporosis, so I mainly used activator and drops on those patients.

The doctors on the trip were also good at showing new or different techniques to help the patient in different ways based on their condition or different ways they could be placed.

– Christa Scheffler

Eye-opening experience: Clinic Abroad orphanage

Over the October break at the Davenport Campus, I had the opportunity to travel to Salvador, Brazil, for Clinic Abroad. It was nice to spend a few days on the beach upon arrival. But the whole group had a real wake up call on Saturday at the orphanage. The orphanage in Salvador is different than ones I have ever heard about in the USA. The people in the orphanage all have a physical or mental disability, so their parents or guardians just drop them off at the gates to this clinic. The workers take care of the kids for their whole lives pretty much. Most are dropped off as infants or toddlers. The orphanage doesn’t get government assistance, as far as we know, so it is all by donation.

It was great to be able to help all of the kids and adults that don’t get very much attention or personal touch. The whole orphanage was very grateful for our donations and chiropractic care. It was very heartfelt because the kids were all very nice and wanted to help any way they could. It was also noticeable that many of them weren’t getting a personal touch or the attention they wanted and needed. It was a big reminder to everyone of all we can be thankful for in our lives. It was great to have the opportunity to help the kids, who in my opinion, needed the care the most.

– Christa Schefler, Class 132, Davenport Campus

Clinic Abroad in India: Part 3

Blogger’s note: This is the last of three entries about my recent travels during a Palmer Clinic Abroad trip to India, abridged from my journal.

Our first day of clinic at Al-Arif Hospital had been advertised as a “free chiropractic medical camp,” and anyone could register. We saw a huge variety of people, from old to young, and rich to poor. It was a lot different seeing adults than it was seeing children.  As efficient as I tried to be, people had so many complex issues that it was impossible to move quickly.

I saw many bilateral, radiating pain cases that I referred to the medical doctor. I don’t think he did anything for these patients other than prescribe pain meds, though. I only ended up seeing 13 patients this day. We were instructed to hand out our clinic cards to lots of patients, and to encourage them to come back. I was hopeful of seeing some of them again.

Day two of the hospital clinic went a lot better than day one. I adjusted 32 patients. Some were repeat patients, and I was pleased to see that many of them were holding their adjustments.

Some of them were getting relief, but some of them were not. That was frustrating.  A lot of the people had chronic problems that one or two adjustments probably wouldn’t help much.  I gave them home exercises they could do and told them which activities to avoid.

Day three was supposed to be all repeat patients, although we had some new ones, too.  I continued to see improvement in some of my patients.  We were able to get some boys from a local Islamic school, and they were a lot of fun to adjust.

Now that I have spent a couple of days doing adults, I realize how quickly you can get through the kids. I wish we had saved the school for last, because we could have cruised!

I think a lot of the boys thought I was pretty because they would giggle and blush around me. One brave little boy of about six looked up at me and said, “You’re beautiful!” It was pretty cute.  I’m definitely not anything special, but they think anyone with white skin is beautiful. It was a good boost to my self-esteem. I adjusted 31 people that day, for a total of 134 for the trip.

When I went on clinic abroad, I had hopes of changing lives with my adjustments. We all hear the miracle stories of children being carried in and walking out, or patients with a lifetime of pain that is reduced in one adjustment. Of course, while those things do happen occasionally, they are rare cases. I was able to help some people, but many I was not. And the majority of the people I adjusted, well, I will never know whether my services helped because I won’t have a chance to follow up with them.

What I didn’t expect was that the person I would help the most would be my interpreter. She had confided in me that her family abuses her. I reported it to one of our trip coordinators, who looked into the situation more. I found out she has a mild mental disability, and that she had made some choices that her father and grandmother don’t approve of. These choices re big “no-no’s” in their culture.

I hope she is able to regain their confidence in her and have a better future. Based on her progress while I was with her, I think she may be able to do so. She ended up being such a good assistant. She matured so much during the week we were together. She went from being shy and nervous about doing a patient history or exam, to being able to do pretty much everything on her own, except the adjustment. She also improved her English immensely and was much more outgoing. She was so helpful, always willing to assist when I needed her (“Yes, ma’am!”), taking initiative, and never complaining. I realized how important this experience was for all of the interpreters, and how much more prepared they will be for being nurses.  It was very hard to say goodbye to them.

The day after our last clinic day we left for home, a trip that took over 32 hours from the hotel in India to Palmer in Davenport. Coming back to the United States made us realize how many blessings we have here. Even the dirtiest places of Davenport seem very clean now, compared to the nicest places of India.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to experience another culture in such a personal way, by getting to know the people there and contributing to their health.  It was an experience that has helped me to become not only a better chiropractor, but also a better person. I will never forget it.

Alissa Grover
9th trimester student, Davenport Campus

Clinic Abroad in India: Part 2

 Blogger’s note: Following is the second of three entries about my recent travels during a Palmer Clinic Abroad trip to India. It is an abridged version from my journal. Enjoy!

After a few days of sightseeing in New Delhi, we flew to Hyderabad, which is a large city located in central India.  We stayed at a hotel called the Taj Krishna, which is a beautiful, old-fashioned style hotel. We got to meet our interpreters, who are all female nursing students, and give them instructions on how they can help us.  Some of the interpreters had done this in the past, but mine had not.  She was a sweet, but shy, girl and I hoped that she would open up to me more as the week went on.

The next day, Thursday, was our first day of clinic! We went to St. Anne’s Christian School, which is an all girls school. When we got there, students were all lined up in the courtyard: several thousand of them. They had a really nice opening ceremony for us. Some girls sang, other girls danced, their band played, and they gave us all flower leis. It made me cry! Then we got to work.

We were in a very simple classroom with an open window to the busy outside, and Clint (my husband) commented whenever he came in that the exhaust fumes were bad. I must have gotten used to it. I felt that I was moving pretty quickly that day, although I only ended up adjusting 23 girls. We didn’t have a whole lot of clinic time. We went from about 10-3 with a break for lunch.

Day two of clinic was much more efficient. I started to move faster and was able to adjust 36 girls. The fun thing about working with kids is that they don’t usually have any pain, so they are considered “wellness” patients. You pretty much just adjust what you find without having to worry about any complex conditions.

I did have one girl with ankle pain that I got a really good talus adjustment on. It went “pop!” which startled her, and she said it felt much better after.  I also had a girl with low back pain, and she had a pretty bad thoraco-lumbar junction subluxation that also adjusted very easily, and she also felt improved. It was sad to pack up and leave at the end of the day. It was hard to get from the school to the bus. We were all attacked by swarms of “paparazzi”—the girls all asking for our autographs before we left!

On Saturday we had a free day, and a group of us went to Charminar, which is a large shopping bazaar in Hyderabad.  We ended up spending the majority of the day there, and I purchased a tailor-made sari and kurtha (a type of women’s dress suit) for myself and my sister. We also purchased an ethnic Indian outfit for my husband.  It will be fun to have those to wear to costume parties or out to Indian restaurants in the states.

I think my favorite part of this day was riding the auto rickshaw. Traffic in India is crazy! The only traffic law is to stop at a red light, and they don’t have many lights. In general they drive on the left side of the road (British style), but lane lines are just a suggestion. They basically use the rules of walking for driving. Crossing at intersections and turning were pretty interesting. They just weave in and out of cross traffic like a game of Frogger.

The rides were also a way to see more of the city. There was a barber by the side of the road, the little stands where rickshaw drivers would buy gas in plastic bottles, and water buffalo wandering by. The worst part was the exhaust and polluted air rushing into your face.

The next three days we had a clinic in a hospital called Al-Arif.  Stay tuned for the third (and last) part of my tale.

Alissa Grover
9the trimester student, Davenport Campus

Clinic Abroad in India: Part 1

Blogger’s note: This is the first of three entries about my recent travels during a Palmer Clinic Abroad trip to India. It is an abridged version from my journal. I hope you enjoy it!

After an entire trimester of preparing, we finally left on June 16 for a 12-day trip to India. A total of 30 students from the Davenport, Florida, and West campuses are on the trip, with 4 faculty doctors, one of whom is my husband!  (Lucky me!)

We took a bus to the Chicago O’Hare airport, then flew to Delhi with a 2-hour stop in Frankfurt, Germany.  It was supposed to be a nonstop flight, but Air India is having a strike right now and their employees won’t do trips over a certain length. So we did a re-staffing, re-stocking, and cleaning stop. 

The only unfortunate thing was that we were not allowed off the plane, and it added several more hours of travel time. Our total time on the plane was somewhere between 17-18 hours. Thankfully, the plane had plenty of leg room, personal TVs at each seat with lots of movies to watch, and excellent food. We were served a dinner, breakfast, lunch, and then another dinner on the flight, and it consisted mostly of Indian food. It was nice to sleep and watch movies and eat, and the time went pretty quickly.

We arrived in New Delhi about 7 a.m. their time, which is 10-1/2 hours past Central Time.  Needless to say, it was a relief to get off the plane, gather our things, and take our first step onto Indian soil: hot Indian soil!  That day it had reached around 110 degrees, and the ground was still radiating heat, even though it was getting dark out.

It seemed to take almost an hour to get to the hotel because traffic was so crazy!  People drive on the left-hand side of the road here, like in England, but it is seriously a free-for-all. Lanes are just a suggestion.  Cars, rickshaws, bikes, motorcycles, people, dogs, all on the road and honking and going every which-way! We saw one motorcycle with a family of five or six on it—none with helmets, of course—and the youngest being no older than 2. There were lots of people walking around everywhere, and people sleeping everywhere.

Upon arrival to our hotel, we were greeted with fresh fruit juice and another dinner. We definitely were well-fed!  Our hotel is really nice—a 5-star, European-style, very modern and hip-looking place.  The food is fabulous, and the dessert bar is like a dream come true. My plate usually consists of about half food and half desserts, and then I eat several pieces of naan. Yum!

Our first day in India, we did some guided sightseeing and a city tour of Delhi.  There were lots of old historical buildings, some medieval-period ruins, and mosques. We got to walk around in one large mosque, which is a place of prayer for Muslims, and we had to wear booties on our feet and wear long-sleeved, floor-length dresses to cover our skin. The men wrapped a type of sheet around their legs.

There were many homeless people just sitting around and sleeping inside the mosque, and we saw many beggars. Then we saw the memorial where Mahatma Ghandi is interred. It was part of a big, beautiful park with lots of greenery—a nice respite from the busy city.  We also drove by “Old Delhi”, which is the older district of Delhi. It looked like an extremely run-down and over-crowded version of the New Orleans French Quarter.

Our second day in India, we took a 2-hour train ride to Agra, a city that is southeast of Delhi.  Our destination in Agra was the Taj Mahal, probably the most well-known landmark in India. The Taj Mahal was built by a previous ruler of India as a mausoleum for his beloved wife, who died giving birth to their 14th child.  It is even more magnificent and beautiful in person than in any photograph.  There are no visible buildings, wires, or other indications of modern development surrounding the Taj Mahal, so you feel as though you have gone to another world. We spent several hours walking around the grounds and inside the Taj Mahal.  There were many Indians here who asked for us to take pictures with them. It is a big honor for Indians to be in photographs with Americans. They believe it will bring them good luck, so we found ourselves posing with many of them. It made me feel like a celebrity!

After the Taj Mahal, we visited a marble craft shop where they make beautiful hand-crafted table-tops, chess sets, vases, wall hangings, and many other things by inlaying precious stones into marble.  We got to watch them work and also had the opportunity to buy pieces.  They were very expensive, but a few members of our group bought small tables, and my husband and I bought a small piece of marble with an image of the Taj Mahal inlayed with mother of pearl.  Next we went to a carpet-making shop for the same opportunity.  Our day ended with a dinner and magic show at an Indian restaurant, and then we made the 2-hour trip back to Delhi.

The day after our trip to the Taj Mahal, we flew to Hyderabad, a city in the central part of India.  That’s where we spent the rest of our trip and had our clinic.

Please stay tuned for my next blog for the continuation of my tale.

Alissa Grover
9th trimester student, Davenport Campus

Helping others in India through Clinic Abroad

In about a month, I will be flying to India with a group of 30 students from Palmer’s three campuses for Clinic Abroad. I have been looking forward to Clinic Abroad since starting Palmer. I always knew it was an experience that I wanted to do, even though it is extra time, effort and money to participate.

My husband was ahead of me in school and went to Brazil in 2010. He had an awesome experience, which made me even more excited. It’s hard to believe that soon I will be going on my trip! What makes it even better is that my husband gets to come, too, as a faculty doctor.

Clinic Abroad is a program offered by Palmer that you can participate in when you are in clinic. During each of the Palmer breaks, students electing to go on the trip travel to one of many locations where a clinic is set up and they adjust thousands of local residents. Most of the people who get treated by the Clinic Abroad interns do not have access to chiropractic care, and some of them do not even have access to medical doctors.

They told our group that is going to India that for some of the people we see, this will be their first trip to a doctor and they may have many things they want us to look at and ask us about. It is hard, because you need to find a balance between helping people the best you can but also being fair to all of the people who come to be treated to see as many of them as possible. People who go on Clinic Abroad say that you learn how to be very efficient and how to have a good flow. You also have the opportunity to fine-tune your skills as a chiropractor.

Soon we are having an event called “Mock Clinic Abroad.” The students who are going on the trip this summer will bring all of our equipment (portable adjusting tables, diagnostic equipment, etc.) and practice doing work-ups on each other. I know that going through everything tomorrow will make it all feel very real. I can’t wait to go to India and have a chance to apply all of the things I’ve learned in school toward improving others’ lives.

Alissa Grover
8th trimester student, Davenport Campus