Week 3 at Queens
I started this week feeling rather sorry for myself, I have a flu like virus that means I ache all over and feel like I have swallowed a packet of razor blades. I spend Monday tucked up in bed sipping Lemsip and drifting in and out of sleep.
Tuesday came and I felt I really should try and get to work, to be honest I was slightly less than enthusiastic given my experience last week. How things can change…. I was on a surgical ward this week and as I arrived it was clear that this ward was very different from the medical ward of the previous week. The ward oozed calmness and organization. The young ward sister arrived promptly at 7.30 and ‘hand over’ started. The night staff discussed all the patients, giving name, diagnosis, observations and management plan. They also discussed how each patient had been over night. We then went into the HDU section of the ward. The student nurses were expected to hand over. One of the nurses wasn’t quite sure about her patient or how to hand over. The sister made it clear to her what was expected – it took me back to my student nurse days!!
On this ward observations were done regularly, fluid balance was monitored AND recorded! The patient’s notes were kept in the nurses’ office to ensure some degree of confidentiality. The ward was clean and tidy, the sister ensuring that the area was washed down and beds made every morning. We also helped the guardians care for the patients, all very different from last week. I have felt very reassured that despite the lack of resources good care can be given and the wards can be run efficiently.
Boring nursing/medical bit coming up, sorry!
On the ward we have three patients with oesophageal cancer, I am obviously in my element and have been asked to do some teaching to nurses and student doctors alike. I have also spent time working with the palliative care team. Patients here rarely get offered an oesophagectomy the cancer is usually far too advanced. Oesophageal stenting is an option but only uncovered stents are available so the benefit is short lived. They also seem to dilate, this is very risky in patients with cancer and perforation is not uncommon. Malawi has seen a sharp rise in the incidence of squamous cell oesophageal cancer; it is believed that the preservative used to store the maize may be responsible. Phew, all done!
I am feeling so happy and settled in Malawi, Jo, Vicky and myself have talked about this many times, the three of us feel the same. I think comfortable is the feeling we all have. The people here are just so friendly and happy; there is certainly no British reserve!! I was chatting to some school children on the way home today, there were obviously some language difficulties and three guys that were sitting on the side of the road just came over and offered their help with the language. That kind of thing is just normal here. When you walk down the road people just smile and say hello to you, it really is lovely!
We are off to the Lake this weekend; we are feeling very excited at the prospect of scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking and generally lazing around in hammocks drinking cocktails. Watch this space…
Wow, Cape Maclear was amazing. We travelled down Friday afternoon; the journey takes about 4 – 5 hours. It is a long way but the journey is hampered by the condition or the roads, it certainly is not a boring M25 journey. We arrived at sunset and were shown our chalet, this was right on the lake front! We had a veranda plus hammocks OMG pure luxury. On the Saturday we went snorkeling and on the Sunday we decided not to over exert ourselves so just a little swimming and lazing around in the hammocks before the evening entertainment. Monday we went kayaking before heading back home. I have enclosed lots of photos because I cant adequately describe how beautiful it was.