Thursday, 27 November 2014

Firsts for everything....

I think it's going to be 'firsts for everything' for a while yet!  This week's highlight was riding in a public minibus (van). A mzungu (white person) riding in the bus who is too tall for the bus both in height and leg length raised some eyebrows. Malawians love to talk with their eyebrows! To ensure a 'safe ride' one must crouch  and ensure minimal pressure is applied by ones knees to the seat in front to ensure decapitation of the head and knees does not occur. For my 150 Kwacha (~25-50c) I got to my destination safely. The challenge next trip is to increase the number of maize bags and people. 15 people in a 10 seater van is pretty impressive!

Management is a whole new ball game in Malawi. The idea of a plumber coming with his own materials that you don't supply is unheard of. But I thought your services were covered by the hospital maintenance? Yes they are just not the materials! So I now have to take the plumber to buy the materials?  Why Beth of course!  I now know where to by a bend pipe for an external loo pipe and some basic 'cement glue' to hold it in. Next stop just change it yourself! I've never seen a plumber just turn up with 2 screw drivers!

Whilst I'm still getting my head around my role and batting my eyelids appropriately I do get excited when new and never have I heard of conditions come in. I'm looking forward to getting my clinical hands dirty. Eg PFFD (clinicians look it up). Basically a congenital deformity where the big leg bone (femur) doesn't form or grow properly. Apparently quite common here. Research paper I hear you say?!

Today I got super excited when a man in a less than standard clinical wheelchair came in with his possible nephews holding his broken leg up in a chitenji (cloth). At a closer look I realised it was externally fixated. The amazing thing is he had come with X-rays. Let me at them! It turns out he had a break in his femur and 2 breaks in his tibia/fibula. In lay terms this leg was not too crash hot and his nephews were holding it up to stop it moving as they wheeled him around the hospital grounds. Given that the lift is broken I hate to think how they got him down the stairs.  I was confused what they wanted us to do. The orthopaedic surgeon had sent them down for a temporary cast/brace until they decide to go in and fix the remaining bones. I beg your pardon?! What?! Isn't that your job?! Ummmm lets consult the surgeon! Tomorrow's agenda!

Where I am currently staying is a bird watchers paradise. Who knows what kinds of birds they are. Look out....bird nerd emerging!

This weekend challenge is to find the gym and socialise. This normal hour work week is so exciting! Don't speak too soon Beth...


  1. Haha you'll be fixing loo's yourself in no time Bethy!
    What an entertaining first week! Can't wait to hear what Malawi has waiting for you next

  2. I'd be on the first plane back home!!

  3. Normal hour work week? You devil! :P