Monday, 10 September 2007

Another Natural Disaster and Some Doctoring

Last Sunday we had yet another Earthquake, another big one. (About 7 or so on the Richter scale) This time there was the added problem that we were living right by the sea. Shitters! We made for the hills (but then we decided to sit and watch the sea for any signs of impending death instead), apparently on the other side of the Island the tide went really far out and everyone legged it because they expected a Tsunami, thankfully nothing happened. Needless to say we were scared. Conveniently we were invited to move up to the Doctor's house whilst he was away. It is safe from the sea, much much closer to the hospital and school and has electricity! Hell yeah! So that's where we are now, and hopefully will be staying there. It isn't quite as pretty as being down by the sea with our own private beach but at least we won't die.

Anyway, the Doctor was away last week and so I was left on my own. I was effectively the most medically qualified person (apart from the nurses who are all very good) within about 200 miles. Shitters again! I had a relaxed week with different activities each morning. Child Health clinic, family planning clinic (one woman didn't quite understand that concept in that she turned up 3 months pregnant), ante-natal clinic (which I ended up running!) and the outpatients department. The OPD is basically the equivalent of A and E in England although it's basically just a room with a table, 2 nurses and some drugs. Everyone with a fever is checked and treated for malaria. On Friday, there was supposed to be a ward round but the senior nurse had gone on annual leave and neglected to tell anyone, after much waiting around it was decided that we'd do one anyway, which as all well and good until people started looking at me to make decisions about patients! Fortunately the nurses knew what they were doing most of the time anyways and all I had to do was agree and write things occasionally. It was all quite exciting really; I quite like being called Doctor. Let's hope I pass my exams so it can continue)

Finally, I promised a bit more about our trip around the island (you know, the one with the AWFUL boat journey). So, the idea was to visit some of the nurse-led clinics. These are just small, very basically equipped huts in the middle of nowhere. They do have radios however most of them seem to not be working. The faulty radios meant that we were not expected and so most of the places we visited didn't have any patients for us to see which meant the whole trip was a slight disaster in terms of medicalness. It was still very interesting though and we were able to drop off some supplies to the outposts.. It is virtually impossible for these nurse-led clinics to do very much at all other than basic first aid, family planning and vaccinations. Sadly, the day before we went on tour a young woman died of an acute severe asthma attack. Obviously nothing could have been done but it really makes you think about how these people live so remotely. The day after the woman's death, it was a strange and moving experience to see a group of wailing women in mourning and a room of about 100 people surrounding the body, as they had done all night in the local tradition. Death seems somewhat more prominent here. This was also the village where we had to inspect some remains that had washed up to see if they were human or fish.

This week, the doctor has returned so things are back to normal and it's been a morning in surgery. He's going away again next week on another tour, I think I'll be staying here and well away from that sodding boat. Anyway, now I'm more confident about what I'm doing and the problems here, it'll be good to get stuck in.


Elaine said...

The doctoring sounds fascinating; I don't share your fear of boaats, but certainly would freak out at the earthquake and possible tsunami!

Ms-Ellisa said...

It must be a great experience for you both to have such a close look at life, so different than Europe. I am looking forward to you comparing it with LA... That should be a blast.
Keep writing- I want to learn more......... :-)

PhD scientist said...

Good to hear you are surviving natural disasters. Two serious earthquakes in a few wks... what are the odds of that? Hopefully this will eventually provide you with plenty of good jokes of the "Did the earth move" variety, at least once you're back in places where it usually doesn't.

Shame about the woman w the acute asthma attack, though of course young people do manage to die of them in the UK too - my sister-in-law nearly managed it at age 25 by waiting (on her own) having a worsening attack, wondering whether she should call someone and/or go to A&E (<1 mile away), until the point where she could barely speak to call a mate. Cue arrival at A&E in mate's car, panic, panic, SHOs in trainers running every which way, drugs galore, nebulized, oral, infusions, etc etc. It was a bit touch and go but she got away with a few days as an inpatient. But had she left it 10 mins more to call her friend, who knows.

Also have a mate who had close friend and Univ contemporary die of acute asthma attack in his early 30s.

Obviously having no A&E to be rushed to gives you even less chance of surviving... but if you don't make it to A&E, it's all the same. Bit like Robin Cook having his fatal MI atop a Scottish mountain.