Again this weekend we feel ourselves lacking power! There was a heavy storm last night (even by British standards!) which we think took down some power lines. This is great news for Sam who is in charge of the candles.
This week has been better than last as we’ve started to settle into life here and get to know more staff. We were even told we have become ‘more Ugandan’ this morning at Church. They described this as being more at ease, but we think it’s that we seem to be late for everything however hard we try!
Medicine this week
Herbal medicines are used a lot here, compared to back home. We were surprised earlier this week when a car spent the day outside the hospital selling herbal remedies and announcing their benefits over a loudspeaker. It is very common for locals to take these, which claim to cure everything from syphillis to common colds. In maternity many women use herbs to bring on labour, which can present unique challenges to the midwives.
This week we saw our first paediatric deaths which was quite difficult. We were heavily involved in the care of one case, which was tough. Death here is more common in hospital than we are used to, especially among children. As a result it was a lot less of a shock to everyone else. There aren’t the usual debriefs for the medical team, counselling for the family, keepsake boxes, bereavement officers etc that occur in the UK, so it felt quite raw to us.
A little more about where we are staying: the hospital is in a compound which includes the guesthouse and mess hall (where we stay and eat), staff accommodation, the directors house, a nursing school and accommodation, the hospital, chapel and school for children of the staff. It’s nice to live closely with the other staff. There is a large sense of community as many attend chapel, have midmorning tea, eat meals and live closely to each other.
At any time there are usually two doctors working here. One is the director, who is like a consultant in the UK, overseeing everything with ward rounds twice a week. The junior doctor on the ground is one doctor covering the whole hospital day and night. They work solid for two weeks, then have two weeks away, in which they work somewhere else and see their family! The juniors here perform emergency operations (C-sections, appendectomies etc) with the help of nurses who assist, regardless of the time of night! Watching their work has put our new contracts in a different light…
The hospital is surrounded by smaller shops and houses, and it’s about a 20 minute walk into the centre of town. Most shops here are the same- they all seem to sell a variety of soft drinks, SIM cards, snacks, jerry cans, plastic bowls and bread. Interspersed with these are some clothes shops, hair salons and banks. This is quite a rural area so locals are not very used to getting visitors from the UK. As such every time we wander into town we have children waving, groups following us, cars stopping to offer us lifts and lots of hellos! We are also easily remembered- a patient we met remarked that we had bought a Coke from her shop and that she’d like the glass bottle back! This is taking a little to get used to!