Archive from September, 2012
Sep 27, 2012 - Medical Talk    4 Comments

HIV/AIDS in Zambia

Before arriving in Zambia, whenever anyone heard about my plans to move here to work in a hospital, the conversation would usually move onto the topic of HIV/AIDS.

Non-medics: “Is there a lot of AIDS there?” “Are you sure you want to go there with all that AIDS?” “Do be careful!”
Medics: “Are you taking PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) with you?” “Don’t forget to double-glove!”

I worked at Ealing Hospital in Southall, London for 3 years, and I thought I had seen plenty of HIV/AIDS there. Since arriving in Zambia, I realize that prior to my arrival here, I knew almost nothing about HIV and the potential devastation it can bestow on a person if diagnosed late or not treated.

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Sep 20, 2012 - Food, General    4 Comments

The wife of a wildlife photographer

To be a good wildlife photographer, you need to have a lot of patience. Patience for the animal to move into the position you want, or for the sun to get lower in the sky, or for the elusive creature to finally show itself.

To be the wife of a wildlife photographer, you need to have a lot more patience than that. Patience for the photographer to come home! Wildlife typically avoids humans. Therefore, wildlife and wildlife photographers are usually found in remote locations far from civilization. Spouses of wildlife photographers are often found alone at home!

I am currently home alone in Katete. Will is with the animals of South Luangwa.

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Sep 12, 2012 - Medical Talk    3 Comments

Decision making

When watching me try to decide what to order in a restaurant, it would be easy to assume that I am a person who is incapable of making a decision. I sit on the fence pondering over the chicken burger or the pasta of the day… At work, faced with slightly more pressing issues, I leave the indecision at home. Doctors need to make decisions, and quickly.

In the UK, the complexity of the decisions that a doctor is required to make increases with the doctor’s seniority and prior experience. That concept is tipped on its head when you uproot to an understaffed, rural hospital in Zambia.

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Sep 9, 2012 - Food, General    3 Comments

Barber shops, butchers and braais

Doing shift work is tiring, with nights and weekends taken up traipsing around wards tending to the sick. However, one of the positives is that you really appreciate a weekend off when it comes around.

Last weekend was busy for me, with a 36-hour shift from Saturday morning to Sunday night. This weekend was also busy, but in a different way.

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Sep 4, 2012 - Medical Talk    4 Comments

Lost in translation

Communication (from Latin “communis“, meaning to share) is the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, visuals, signals, writing, or behaviour.

For two people to fully understand a conversation that has taken place, as well as words and actions, there needs to be a rough awareness of the cultural and social context of the other person.

One of the big challenges in doctor-patient communication is that doctors tend to ask about objective symptoms, trying to sort and sift problems in order to formulate diagnoses. Patients, on the other hand, want to tell you about their illness and its effect on their life. Communication breaks down if the doctor doesn’t understand the patient’s world, and the patient doesn’t understand the doctor’s question.

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