Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Masanga- The way life rolls in the jungle.

Day 2 began for me at 3am when I woke from my mosquito netted bed with severe nausea. After realising where I was, I had to find an alternative to throwing up in the already nauseating non-flushing toilet. Thankfully one of our water buckets was empty and so I sat on the edge of my bed with this giant bucket. You know how it goes, the waves of nausea come and each time you just wish it was over already and you could go back to the sleep. Well after vomiting and finding a minute of relief, Steph heard me through our joined bathroom and came to ease my suffering. Unfortunately the nausea continued for several more hours, more vomiting and not a wink of sleep. I sat up in a chair, by the light of a candle, while Steph dozed on my bed until the sun rose. By then the nausea had eased enough that I didn't have to sit bolt upright in the plastic chair against the wall. Steph dressed and went off to the hospital to work and I went to bed to see if I could sleep as the nausea settled. I lay in bed all day with a terrible headache and fevers, no energy and no motivation for even lifting a book to read. The most I could do was force myself to drink water. One of the sweet Danish volunteers lent me her fan and I dozed the afternoon away under its breeze. I laid bag water (our only clean drinking water) on my face and neck to cool myself but unbeknown to me it left its blue ink all over my face! Steph found me later in the afternoon covered in blue ink, sweating away, and helped me by putting a wet cloth (a clean pair of underwear) on my head to cool me off.

Day 3 I was most improved after a drugged and very restful sleep. After the morning meeting, I rounded in the surgical ward, finding out more about the way the wards are run and how the pharmacy works with dispensing medications.
After lunch I went up to emergency where there were 5 new admissions, all under 5 years, with malaria. Most had Hbs (haemoglobin) of 5.0-6.0 (or 50-60 for the Aussies) and all needed blood transfusions, quinine and IV fluids for hydration. Some were already having seizures from the cerebral malaria, hypoglycaemic episodes or febrile convulsions.
Because Steph and I were only visiting the hospital for two weeks, we just wanted to learn from those working there and perhaps offer some teaching at small things we could see that could be improved, but as for responsibility for patients, we had to be able to just walk away and leave them in the nurses’ care. Despite this, while the admissions rained through the doors, we both ran around helping each case out, often prompting staff to do this and that or asking them what we could do for them to help out.

Masanga hospital Emergency Unit
Hours later it's dark and I’m lying in my bed thinking over the day’s events.  I can hear the wind begin to blow stronger and then the rain falls hard upon the tin roof. I think about each morning that we walk to the meeting room to hear the on-call overnight report and I wish this rain could wipe the slate of sick patients clean and for them to be healthy, because I can almost be certain that someone has died in this hospital in the 15 hours which I was absent. That's the hard way life rolls here.

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