Thursday, October 9, 2008

A note of clarification

I woke up suddenly at 1am this morning and I was filled with dread that I had perhaps said things on the blog that I shouldn’t have made public. The truth is, when I created the blog I only thought 3 people would read it- my Mum, my step Dad and my best friend Courtney. I had no idea that others would read it, I didn’t think that my adventures here in Swaziland would interest anyone else. It certainly never occurred to me that people here in Swaziland would ever stumble across my blog and make a connection with me.

At 1am I felt so disturbed that I wanted to get out of bed and clarify my previous blog entry with you all. I didn’t do this for two reasons:
It’s now cold again and I wasn’t brave enough to leave my warm, comfortable bed.
If I was caught by the security guards that patrol the grounds, they may have been so startled by my wild “bed hair” and pink Winnie the Pooh pyjamas, that they may have shot me- mistaking me for a wandering lunatic.

So I am now here, trying to clarify a few things. First and foremost, the events of Monday are in no way a reflection on the Good Shepherd hospital or its doctors. The hospital is regarded as one of the best in Swaziland. People think the care here is of such a high standard that they travel across the country to be seen by the staff here.
Secondly, the doctors here are doing their best. They are devoted and hard working and they try their best to make a difference despite the gross lack of resources. The surgeon who performed the tracheostomy was amazing and incredibly brave. He actually approached me this morning and told me how proud he was of me. I was the only one in the hospital who was prepared to step in and intubate the patient if the proverbial shit hit the fan. He told me I had “balls” that he had never witnessed in a female before. I have never been told that I have “balls” and I have decided to interpret it as a compliment.
Thirdly, after discussion with the surgeon, we both agree that this situation was doomed to be a disaster in the first place. The trachea was deviated so much that it was underlying the ® clavicle. We have all learnt much from the experience. The patient is still alive and he is grateful that he can breathe.
My reaction to the events that unfolded was completely “normal for Mel”. I am extremely passionate about my work, my patients and the way I am perceived by my colleagues. I know, that even back in Australia, my colleagues find it a challenge to understand me and why I take things to heart so easily. Believe me, I wish I knew why. It can be incredibly lonely at times when you want to fight for your patient, their dignity and comfort, only to meet resistance along the way.
It is my hope that I can continue to write of my experiences here in Swaziland and not have anyone abuse the trust that I have placed in my readers. I hope that you all understand that my patients are people who deserve compassion and dignity. Whilst some may argue that I am breaking doctor-patient confidentiality, I actually see my blog entries as giving a voice to all those who are unheard. As humanity, I believe we have an obligation to care for other regardless of nationality, religion or creed. I believe that ignorance is the fundamental reason why we do not live in peace. It is my hope that I can enlighten some of you to the daily privileges we in the Western world take for granted. Along the way, I will probably use gruesome detail because this is exactly what I pay witness to on a daily basis. It can be overwhelming and it can be sickening. It can make me feel completely hopeless and desperate. It is by using these emotions that I try find the inner strength to do the best I can and try and make a difference. I share the stories with you because I want you to be aware of the suffering that plagues this country and the fact that the rest of the world lives in blissful ignorance.
Please respect my patients and try to understand my emotions. It would cause me a great deal of suffering and anguish if my stories were to be talked about as some idle gossip or if they were ever submitted to Swazi media. I would stop writing the blog and the people I love would no longer have access to a story that is about me and the country I am trying desperately to support. Please respect my colleagues. Whilst I may not agree with some of the practices that occur here, I respect their commitment, their knowledge and their desire to try and achieve some of the goals that are exactly the same as mine.


william said...

Its a good story and get to be a thriller like thing and the current spate of political arrests and degrading treatment of political activists yet again exposes the sadistic character of this regime.
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