Friday, September 26, 2008

A rather large dilemma

This week has been a pretty good week as a whole. Many positive things have occurred and this has lifted my mood enormously.
Firstly, Dr Kalangara, the doctor who was working in Internal medicine and then went on leave on my second day working here, has come back to work! This has relieved my workload in Outpatients enormously. I now do my ward rounds in the morning and then take an hour or so to do some reading or research about my patients before I go to Outpatients in the afternoon. Although I have managed remarkably well so far, it is just so nice to have the time to look things up and educate myself further on conditions I have not yet encountered in my medical career so far. I now feel that I have a much better understanding of HIV/AIDS, TB and a number of infectious diseases that I have not encountered in Australia. I’m not sure that I will ever use this knowledge again once I return to Australia, but I now feel as though I can talk with some level of expertise on these subjects.
Secondly, I have made some changes on the female ward and the results have been extremely positive. Things are much more organised and the nurses and I are working well as a highly functional team. The improvements to patient care have been remarkable. I have made communication between other teams much more effective and people are starting to realise that actually TALKING to other people and WRITING things down actually improves patient outcomes. I have now organised that I will give the nurses a tutorial every second Friday and they are very excited about this new concept. The nurses are taught how to make beds, wash patients, take vital signs and administer medication, but they don’t have a great deal of knowledge about the diseases they are seeing. I can see patient care improving if the nurses understand what they are treating. We will see how things go.
The other big highlight to the week was the instillation of TV in the student accommodation. For the past 6 weeks, I have not seen any TV or heard any radio and I have felt very “cut off” from the rest of the world. Having a TV has changed all of that. For three nights this week, I have met up with Chris, Julia and a Scottish medical student called Jenny and we have sat in front of that TV absolutely mesmerised. We watched the “Red Carpet Special” of the American Emmy awards and we sat for hours commenting on all the dresses and outfits of various celebrities. It was all so far removed from the reality that we pay witness to here, but it was great escapism. The next night we watched “Pride and Prejudice” starring Kyra Knightley and it was simply one of the most enjoyable experiences. I love Jane Austen and despite reading most of her books, I have never seen the TV or movie adaptations. I loved every second and the girls and I squealed with delight when Elizabeth and Mr Darcy suddenly declared their love for each other! It’s the very simple things here in Swaziland that elicits the most excitement!
The only downside to the week was a walk that I took yesterday. Last week, I was walking into town when a man called across the street “I think you have a beautiful bum”
I was absolutely mortified. Although I think it was intended as a compliment, I immediately interpreted it as an insinuation that my backside was rather prominent. Swazi men love big backsides on women and I was so upset that my backside had reached a proportion where it was noticeable. My diet here has changed remarkably in that it is predominantly carbohydrate based and this has led to a gain of weight. I decided that I needed to start an exercise regime as it would be most embarrassing to return from Africa, where people are starving, having put on weight.
The only “safe” walk I can take is into town. Although I have voiced my concerns about snakes, goats and cattle, the honest truth is that my biggest risk here in Swaziland is actually Swazi men. I cannot go anywhere where I will be alone. I was carrying a knife with me (My friend Louise gave me a swiss army knife before I came here and although I am sure she didn’t intend for it to be used as a weapon, I noticed that the knife on it had the potential to inflict some considerable harm), but one of the other doctors warned me that a man could overpower me and use it as a weapon against me.. I no longer carry the knife. Instead, my colleague suggested that I carry something of value on me, so that in the event that I was accosted, I could use it as a bribe in exchange for my safety.
I have nothing here of any real value, so I carry 100 rand (~$18). Hopefully, I’m worth that much…
Anyway, to get to my original point, I went walking yesterday afternoon. I walked past a car wash and a Swazi man grabbed my hand and started pulling me towards a building. I started to pull away and I kept yelling “Let me go! Let me go!”. I eventually broke free and he started laughing at me. He really enjoyed the fact that he had given me a fright. Rather than being upset, I was really angry. My attempt at reducing my butt size had been jeopardised and I felt angry that I no longer felt safe walking into town. I’m really not sure that anything bad would have happened to me as I saw another man walking on the other side of the street, but I can’t be sure.
Either I am going to have to find a walking companion or I’m going to return to Australia with a fat arse.


graemew said...

Mind your language young people read your blog Silly



S & C said...

If I get a vote, I say get yourself home can lose the weight later! So glad things are looking up for you there. xoxox said...

I would ask all your gentle readers to recall the immortal words of that beloved bard & knight of the turn-table, Sir Mix-A-Lot:

"My anaconda don't want none
unless you got buns hon."

How much more pithily could one possibly say it?