Wednesday, 23 December 2009


Well, I knew it would be cold back in Blighty, but snow?! A definite shock to the system. I was grateful for my big snuggly tracksuit bottoms, base layer and fleece, and even more grateful that I had taken them to Uganda with me despite cries of 'What do you need those for?' when I was packing them back in August. Coming through the arrivals door was the best feeling, three familiar faces beaming back at me, followed by 'You're not going out in public dressed like that!' It's good to know that nothing changes!

My last week at work felt very long and was a mixed bag of challenges. I didn't go in on Saturday, choosing to spend the day doing some Christmas shopping and chilling with Adam. He's been in Mbale for the last few weeks so it was good to catch up and pretend to be a tourist for the day, hitting the craft markets after breakfast and bargaining for tacky African Christmas presents. The best thing I found was a massive wall hanging of the late Michael Jackson, badly sketched and even more badly printed, featuring, in Luganda, the timeless slogan of 'We will never forget you'. At 22,000 USH (about £8) I thought this was a bargain, but Adam disagreed, so it will not be adorning our dining room wall in the near future. Perhaps it will be in the sale when I get back...

On Sunday I went to work, putting myself in theatre on labour ward. The washing machine in the hospital laundry was broken, and we had no sterile linen. One of the senior consultants managed to acquire some brand new linen from stores, but we were unable to use it until it had been labelled in gloss paint, allowed to dry and autoclaved. We started our list of 13 pending caesarean sections at 2pm, managing to do four and a normal delivery on the theatre table by 5.30. Linen continued to be a problem throughout the week, with the operating obstetrician going from labour suite theatre to gynae theatre, depending on where the current stock of linen was situated.

I spent Monday sorting out the Midwife of the Month award, packing my stuff to take home and tying up last minute loose ends. One of our senior anaesthetic officers sadly passed away on Monday, which had an impact on morale amongst the rest of the staff. Work continued, albeit at a slower and less enthusiastic pace.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were again spent on labour ward, in and out of theatre. I seem to be having a run of arm prolapses, badly impacted heads which I have needed to deliver by the breech and sub-total hysterectomies - the second one in a week was for a bad uterine rupture. We were due to present the Midwife of the Month award on Friday, however we lost a further 3 anaesthetic staff in a car accident on Thursday, ironically whilst they were travelling to their colleague's funeral. It was felt to be inappropriate to celebrate people's achievements while the department was in mourning and so it has been postponed.

We had some farewell house drinks on Friday evening. It felt a bit strange that the surrogate family were heading off in different directions for Christmas, but we are all badly in need of a break from Kampala. On Saturday, my regular Boda Boda guy Alan was a bit miffed that I hadn't asked him to take me to the airport, and couldn't really understand why, carrying 25 kilos of luggage, I didn't fancy taking the 45km journey on a motorbike, opting for the far more sensible car. I managed to sunburn my left arm by hanging it out of the window, and arrived home sporting two totally different coloured arms and a very attractive watch strap mark, which I have avoided for the last 4 months! The flights were unremarkable for the most part, although I had a very luxurious 8 hour sleepover on the floor at Dubai.

It's nice to be at home, nice to have the creature comforts that I have missed, nice not to have to sleep under a bed net and nice be with my family. But it's a bit of a shock to the system too, and I think that I am probably becoming more of a Muganda than I have realised. That said, you can't beat a pint of real ale in your favourtie pub in the world - The Crown Posada - and a kebab, which is exactly what we had last night. All I need now is some fish and chips, some pease pudding and a parmo...not necessarily at the same time either!

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