Sunday, 30 August 2009

103 Midwives!

That's how many people we've trained this week. I'm knackered! Dhomalie and Agnes, our midwife trainers did a brilliant job, and worked like Trojans, and Kate's work to set the whole thing up really paid off. I felt privileged to be involved and it was great to see so many people leave with new found confidence and self belief. I hope it translates into clinical practice, but at least I can try and help with that by encouraging people when the situation arises. I even have the confidence to do it myself now! No more being elbowed out by the midwives ;) (Love you all!)

Now that I'm starting to get to know the staff, I'm feeling more settled. The hospital seems less daunting somehow, but I need to get stuck in properly now.

In terms of Kampala life, I've found a shared house with 5 other people who do a variety of things - journalism, politics, PhDs etc - from the States and Germany, and will be moving in next weekend. I think it'll be a brilliant place to live, and it's quite close to work, probably about 30 minutes by foot and minibus.

I still feel a little bit like I'm on holiday... not sure when that will wear off, but I'll let you know! Need to buy a jar of Marmite, and soon, I'm craving....

Please email me and tell me your news! I will try and email everyone who I have addresses for in the next few days

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

One crocodile, two crocodiles...

Well, what a hectic time I've had. Can't really remember when I last wrote, it's been a bit of a blur really. Went out on Friday for my birthday with my flat mates, got a little drunk (obviously). Felt dreadful the next morning, rising at 6 to go rafting. Had a fab scenic drive to Jinja, although was tired. Arrived, was kitted out, put on a raft and then thrown out of the raft several times on purpose, which served as an excellent hangover cure! Did 7 rapids in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. AWESOME! Was so knackered and sunburnt I was in bed by 9!

Sunday (my birthday) was spent at the source of the Nile, marked by a concrete block no less. Lots of amazing wildfowl along the banks of the Nile though. Managed to catch a lift with some American NGO workers back to Kampala, which beats travelling in a Matatu for 90km.

Neonatal resuscitation course started on Monday. There's been a brilliant turn out and the midwives are really keen to learn. Hopefully it will boost confidence and empower them to recognise and manage neonates who need resuscitating. My predecessor Kate raised the money to run it so it was offered to the staff for free. I will be running it again for the junior doctors and then in 6 months for the midwives. I'll give you advance warning that I'll be asking for your spare coppers.

Really enjoying life in Kampala. Settling in, and now Kate's back it's easier to meet the staff and explain who I am and why I'm here. The rainy season has arrived... and it rains Lions and Hyenas here!

To everyone at Leighton, believe it or not I have yet to swear at work!!! Told you I could do it! Anyway, the sun's going down and I need to get home before dark!

Laters xxx

Friday, 21 August 2009

'I hope it rains down in Aaaaaafricaaa'

Actually, I wouldn't mind if it stopped now, just for half an hour so I can get back to the hospital! But for now, I'm trapped and using my time wisely...

I've started work, and am slowly beginning to get into the swing of things. Everything is SO different here, that for the first few weeks I'll be 'observing' and learning about how things are done here. Starting to get to know some of the midwives and doctors. I've dabbled in labour ward, spending yesterday afternoon in theatre. Most of this week has been spent finalising arrangements for a neonatal resuscitation course which my predecessor and I are running next week for all the midwives. It's been an interesting week as I begin to learn how to approach people here and how to get things done. There's a definite etiquette that I don't yet fully understand, in terms of how to get things done.

The other thing I've done this week is write a guideline on multiple pregnancy with Anna, the Italian doctor who's here for a short while, and a specialist, Sarah. I presented it at the departmental meeting, and it seems to have been well received, and I hope, achievable... No difficult questions from the floor.

Play wise, I've moved into a house, which is great except that we have had no power for 3 days! This has unfortunately meant eating out rather than in, but I can tell you that the restaurants and bars here are really good, including the Irish bar with free wifi - where we wrote the bulk of the guideline. I have made it my personal mission to try them all!

The house is a minibus trip from the hospital, which is quick and easy. Haven't plucked up the courage to ride on a boda-boda yet... I think I'll avoid it for as long as possible.

This weekend, I'm heading off to Jinja to go rafting and visit the source of the Nile, a birthday treat to myself. I'll try and post some photos on here once I get back, decent internet connection pending!

Hope you're all well. Massive congratulations to Anna and Sam on the arrival of Poppy, and to Becca and Ted on the arrival of Thomas. Hope you're getting to know each other and the sleepless nights are bearable!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Despatches from Kampala

Well, I've arrived safely with all of my luggage. Getting through the airport was easy enough, but my visa doesn't seem to have an expiry date, which means that at some point in the next week I'll be spending a bit of time at the high commission and the immigration office!

The journey through Entebbe to Kampala in a taxi was just like I expected it to be. Red soil and dust, fruit and vegetable vendors, advertising billboards promoting HIV testing and treatment, drum shops, massive marabou storks everywhere, boda-boda drivers swerving all over the place. Magic.

I arrived at Mulago guesthouse which is directly over the road from the hospital, and it appears that I have the whole place to myself, although there are three people staying in the adjacent house, Anna, and Italian doctor, aspiring to be an obstetrician and working in the department for 6 weeks, Songi who is a German social anthropologist and Assaye who is a paediatrician working on an Africa wide guideline for UNICEF. The guesthouse is basic but clean. I have discovered where the supermarket ism which is just as well as I have left my toothpaste behind. Couldn't find the Marmite though, so I'll have to go on a hunting trip.

Went into the hospital on Friday for a quick look around. The Friday morning handover meeting, a formal occasion, was a hotbed of lively discussion and debate, with lots of discussion about evidence, or lack of. Some of my previous consultants would have been given a run for their money! Everyone is expected to attend, and the nursing staff also give a summary of admissions and outcomes. There is a lot of stuff that I am going to see and experience that I won't be writing on here, as I think it will be too sensitive to be published in the public domain.

Met the low risk labour ward manager, the postnatal ward sister and the VVF theatre sister. They're very friendly and welcoming and I think that once I get over the initial shock of such a massive change I think I'm going to enjoy the challenges the year will bring. I'm certainly going to have to find a novel way of doing an ARM without and amnihook!

I've spent a bit of time exploring the city itself, with the other people that are staying here in the hostel. I looked at a house that wasn't suitable, but will be looking for a place more seriously once I get all the initial paperwork sorted out.

Friday night was spent eating Ethiopian food Alfresco, and then dancin until the wee small hours, and there's definitely a vibrant social life here which I'm obviously looking forward to exploring in more depth!

So, tomorrow I start work properly. Am I nervous? Obviously. Am I excited? Definitely!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Airport chairs...

Well I'm halfway there, having set up camp on a recliner in Dubai airport which is unfortunately not conducive to sleep... And so far nothing too exciting has happened apart from frantically unpacking and offloading my excess five kilos of luggage in Newcastle! So I'm down from two white coats to one and have had to ration myself re textbooks... Eek! It all feels very surreal so far, not sure quite when it will all hit me. Many tears and stuff over the past few days, missed deadlines and the proverbial and the fan have had a couple of meetings too... But I'm on my way now and everything's pointing forwards, onwards and upwards!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Three more sleeps...

Is the flat packed away? Is the damp wall sorted? Have I finished my Cochrane review? Do pigs fly?

Actually have got more chance of seeing a flying pig than being ready to get on the plane on Wednesday!

Have had a wonderful past few weeks catching up with friends and family, a number of send offs, some of which have made me a little worse for wear. I'm certainly going to miss Cain's beer!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Goodbye Leighton

Well, I've almost finished work! Just under two hours to go, and the midwives haven't thrown me in the bath...yet! Lots of lovely cards and pressies, all of which are very thoughtful. Thank you especially to the labour ward staff for the silver St Christopher, which I'll wear and will refer to when necessary! 8 sleeps to go!