Saturday, April 25, 2015

New Experiences

One aspect of living in Burundi for 9 months that I have greatly appreciated is the frequent occurrence of “new experiences”, both inside and outside of the hospital.  Today, as I was providing anesthesia for a 3 year old girl, face down, while John our ophthalmologist was lying on his back  on the floor, operating on her eye from below, I began thinking about some of the most memorable new experiences that I have had during our time here.  So, I thought I would jot down a few of them.  

  1. Taking our pet chicken for his daily walk around the compound.  We keep her in a pen most of the time because among the missionaries families here, every other “pet chick” has been picked off by hawks or owls when we were not watching.  We hope Pickley will make it to an age where she can roam freely and defend herself from those winged meanies.  
  2. Leading critical care rounds.  In the U.S. this would be performed by someone, oh, I don’t know, let’s say “qualified” to do this.  
  3. Delivering a baby by C section.
  4. Sticking a needle into someone’s eye socket.  John has graciously offered to teach me how to do a retrobulbar block, to anesthetize an eye.  This is a procedure that anesthesiologists are often taught about but which is usually performed by the ophthalmologist in the U.S.  Fear of litigation is minimal in Burundi.
  5. Eating termites.  
  6. Being asked to reanimate a child who had gone blind.  Yeah, I failed.  
  7. Being given a rooster as a thank-you gift for preaching.
  8. Neonatal resuscitation. Although back home I am occasionally called on to assist the pediatrician and respiratory therapist with airway management, my role in this is limited.  In Burundi, I have lost count of how many babies born by C section I have had to “reanimate”, with my only resource being the maternity nurse who normally just shakes the baby until they ether revive ... or not.
  9. Paying 60 cents for a stick of roasted goat meat hanging on the side of a dusty road.  Yes, I am planning to take de-worming meds once we get home.  
  10. Trying to keep it together while being coughed on by patient with tuberculosis.  Our isolation ward is simply a brick building which they assure me has “good ventilation”. 
  11. Working in the O.R. alongside such critters as flies, wasps, skink lizards, rats and once a bat.  My students quite enjoyed watching my reaction to the bat.  I think it is completely natural for a grown man to cry from time to time.

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