A Travellerspoint blog

St. Mary's hosptial

A week in a semi-private hospital

After spending two weeks at King Edwards, my rotations switched to St. Mary's which is a semi-private hospital in Marianhill. Marianhill is about 30 minutes away from where we live so it was an early pickup and an early wake up! On Monday, I went out into the community. What basically happens is that you go out into the township to see how consultants work with the people in the community. The consultants go around the community to check how people are doing and if they are following up on the ARV therapy. It was a hot day and I walked around with my consultant who was very nice and I wish I could remember her name. She told me how her job worked and what she needed to do. I got a lot of information for my research. She explained to me how many people default there treatment due to certain factors such as, financial, religious or social reasons. She said it is very hard for people to stay on task with their medication. After my day in the community, we went to the beach and then watched a movie with our host brother.

Tuesday was my actual first day at St. Mary's. They put me in the Ithembu clinic which is an ARV therapy and TB clinic. Most of the day, I helped count pills and helped with the paperwork. I also learned a lot about how heard it is to keep track of all the patients. Everything is in paper. Everything. The files are in one room and some patient files are missing but considering the situation, they are pretty organized and manage very well. I spent most of my time with an HIV counselor who explained the different rooms of the clinic. There are about seven rooms. Once for blood work, once for counseling/inititaion, pill counting, and TB medication. I went home and got ready to go out to dinner for Amy's (one of the girls' in our group) birthday. We went to the rotating restaurant. It is an Italian restaurant and it exactly like the restaurant on top of the space needle.

On Wednesday, I was in the labor ward. We started the morning off with a cesarean section which was the fastest operation I've seen!! it happened in less than ten minutes and out came a baby! The second c-section was slower but the baby was a stillborn. The doctor didn't tell us that he and the nurses knew that the baby didn't survive so we were a little shocked when the baby came out. After that, Stella and I decided to take a break before heading to the labor ward. In the labor ward, we didn't see any live births but we did discuss with the nurses some of the procedures and protocol that they go through in the labor ward. That night was karaoke night. so all of us went out to karaoke. I sang about three songs. One of them was "Don't Stop Believing", which most of you know as my ring tone. We didn't leave until 1am and I knew it would be difficult for me to get up at 6am the next morning. So . . . on Thursday, I woke up with a sore throat and a cough and decided it would be better not to go to work. I didn't want to cough on people the entire time! As a result, my roomie and I skipped work and slept late. We got picked up in the afternoon to go to a meeting with our medical coordinator. Later that night we went to the Pavilion, which is a huge mall near us, and bowled which was really fun. Then we went back home to catch on sleep from the previous night.

On Friday, I was put into the St. Anne clinic. This clinic focuses on the prevention of HIV from mother to child. The whole day I worked with a nurse who was hilarious. She made the experience ten times better. Not only was she hilarious, she also informed me about what was going on and what medications were what and so on and so forth. She also cared about the patients more than what I've seen in South Africa. It was a great experience. That night, we went to the Moses Mahbida Stadium and the FIFA store. Later on, people went to the rugby game but some of us decided to stay outside and have a tailgate party. Once we were trying to get home, we had a problem with one of the cars and kinda had a fiasco on the way home but no worries, everything is fine . . . now.

Posted by smtn912 10:37 Comments (0)

Nelson Mandela turns 92!

After spending a week in surgery I was ready for a chill weekend. On Friday afternoon, I hung out with my host family and did my first load of laundry with my roommate. When I mean laundry I don't mean putting it in the washing machine. I mean full on in the tub, wringing with your hands and drying on the close line for days. That's right!!! I did a whole load of laundry! Now to the laundromat. Just kidding. I have one more important load to do and then I might go to the laundromat. Anyway, four of us decided to go to the BAT center and watch some traditional Zulu music and some jazz. I was very impressed with the Zulu dancers. They can kick their legs so high that I'm surprised they are not on the South African gymnastic Olympic team. After a few beers, chips (aka fries) and some nice jazz we went home.

On Saturday, my roommate and I got to sleep in until 10am!!!! WOOHOO. I was really excited about that one. We decided to go to the beach and it was beautiful. I took a nap and got a small sunburn despite the fact that I out my sunscreen on. After my cat nap, I decided to join our assistant coordinator, Abbey, for lunch. When I got there, she was joined by an older gentleman. Surprise. I later discovered that the gentleman was not wanted or needed at our lunch table and to be honest . . . he was a little creepy (watch, he'll read this blog!!!). So after that, we decided to leave the beach and get ready for the Sharks rugby game. The Sharks are the rugby team for Durban. On Saturday night, they were playing the Blue Bulls. Apparently the Sharks and the Bulls are huge rivals so it was a huge game!!! We did have seats all the way up in the nose bleed section but I got some kodak moments up there. It was so much fun. We had some crazy people around us and when we started cheering they said "HEY! AMERICANS!!!". Just like that. It was hilarious. We were excited that the sharks won and then decided to go out for the evening. We went to two different places called Zach's and Spiga d'oro. Both great and delicious. Making my way home around 1:30am, I went to bed.

Sunday was Nelson Mandela's 92nd birthday! Happy Birthday! We all decided to go to the beach again, but a different one and do some productive stuff. I wrote postcards and did my research on the beach while some others were getting their tan on. We then decided to go walk to the Durban soccer stadium. I thought the stadium was impressive to drive by but up close was even better. Everyone in the group wanted to walk up the y thing in the stadium. Me, being afraid of heights, wanted to take the cable car. Not able to do either, we made our way back to the BAT center to watch another Jazz show. On of the interns/my friend, Jeremy knew the band that was playing so we decided to go. They were soooooooooo good. AMAZING. Her name Vanessa Moodley and she has an awesome band. You can try and google her and you might find some of her music. After that we went to my assistant coordinator's house and baked cookies and now I am here at the computer lab. Tomorrow I go to a new site called St. Mary's. I also have to go out into the community tomorrow. Wish me good luck!!! Also, if you are reading this and it is the 18th, do 67 minutes of something good for Nelson Mandela. If you can't that is okay too.

Posted by smtn912 12:01 Comments (0)


My week in the Surgical Ward

This week was a very long week. My rotation was on the surgical ward where we were able to see and go into surgeries. Monday was pretty slow. There were no surgeries and we helped admit patients and get to know our surgical team. On Tuesday we actually saw our first surgery. It was a stomach bypass surgery where they had to remove parts of the stomach and rearrange the intestines in order for the system to work properly. The surgery was a success and there were about 15 people in the theater at that time. By the way, the theater is what they call the operating rooms here. For the rest of the day on Tuesday we admitted some more patients while my friend, Stella, drew some blood from a patient. On Tuesday afternoon all of us decided to go to the Victoria Street Market in Durban. Victoria street is your basic market in downtown Durban. I bought some postcards and other souvenirs and then we made our way back home. While walking back to the car, one of my friends got his vuvuzela (the annoying horns you saw during the world cup) stolen. Some guy, probably on drugs, just stole his vuvuzela right out of his hand!! It was really weird. My friend tried to fight back and then decided it wasn't worth the risk. After that weird situation, we all headed home.

Wednesday was a long day. We had two surgeries. The first surgery was a left thyroid lobectomy, which means that the patient had their left thyroid lobe removed. The thyroid gland on the left was too big and needed to be removed. Once the surgeons removed it, we saw it and it was about the size of a baseball. It was huge. After lunch, we saw a closure of a colostomy. It was a basic procedure where the surgeon basically sews up the bowel and puts it back into the abdomen. We went home after that surgery and decided to get some sleep since we would be on call that night. After my nap, we went over to another student's house to learn how to play casino. Casino is a card game that is so confusing that it took me about two hours to actually learn the rules of the game. If anyone wants to know how to play it, I can try and explain later. After that, I got ready for my long night at the hospital. We arrived at the hospital and there was an emergency surgery for a three year old who fell on an iron edging and cut open her guts. It was sad to see but the surgeons did a great job of sewing here back up. The only problem was that there were no surgical staples, because they ran out, so they had to suture her up. The surgeons said that because of this, she will have to live with a huge scar. We all took a 20 min break until the next surgery. It was now around 1:30 AM. We all sat in the doctors room and watched some TV. The surgeons were criticizing every single show that was one. The conversation went from tea to cars in a matter of minutes. It was very entertaining. The net surgery didn't actually start until 2am. It was an appendectomy. It would have been an easy procedure except, the patient's appendix was stuck to her uterus so it was harder to remove. The surgery also took a long time since there were still no surgical staples. After that surgery, it was time to sleep. We really didn't have a place to sleep so we decided to go to the computer lab and do work. As most of you know, I fell asleep, on the keyboard no less and woke up an hour later with keyboard imprints on my face. By 6am, we were done with the computer lab and decided to wait for our ride to take us home. When I got home, I slept until 1pm. It was fantastic!

Thursday afternoon was very entertaining. After my deep sleep, my roommate and I decided that we should do our laundry. The only problem was that we don't have a washer or dryer and we didn't know how to do it by hand. So we asked our host mom to show us and she started laughing. We were given a tutorial, in the bathtub, and then started washing away. Our host mom said that we did very well for our first time but I have my doubts. After rushing to finish laundry, we decided to go to Gateway. Gateway is this huge mall about 20 minutes north of Durban that is the biggest mall in the southern hemisphere, or so they claim. It was a very beautiful mall. Is shopped for a suit case and failed but we then decided to have dinner. By that time, we all decided to go out to Florida road and at least have one drink. We tried to get into one bar that had a cover charge that was way too pricy. We then proceeded down the road to a Mexican restaurant called TacoZulu. No joke. It was good, well the drinks were. By the time we were all done, it was only 10:45pm but we all were fading fast. It was time to go home and sleep.

Today (Friday, July 16th, 2010) will be a slow day at work but if anything happens I'll let you know.

Posted by smtn912 23:03 Comments (0)

The Weekend!

The Oribi Gorge, Florida Road and The World Cup Final

It's been a while since I have kept everyone updated so I am going to try and sum up three days in one entry.

On Friday it was the same old day working in the pediatrics ward. We played with some kids, learned about the spread of TB in HIV patients and did rounds until noon. After lunch we played some more (catch was the preferable game) with about 4 kids. While playing, one of the interns asked me if I wanted to help drain the abscess of one of the TB patients. Terrified, I out in the needle and then the plastic tubing to drain the abscess. It was easy and nothing bad happened so that's all that mattered. Two hundred mL of fluid later, I patched up the patient and decided I was very impressed with myself. I used a needle! WOOHOOO!

Once home, my roommate andIwent to the internet and then rushed home again to meet everyone to go to a surfing competition. The competition is called the Mr. Price Pro and it was on the Balitio beach which is on the north coast of Durban. We drove 45 minutes away from home to discover that the competition was over for the day. Instead, we played around on the beach and I put my toes in the Indian Ocean which is really really warm! After that, we decided to go get dinner at a lovely restaurant on the beach. It's name is called Al Pascatore. It was so delicious! After dinner some of us, not me, decided to go to the Suncoast Casino. Suncoast is a casino near the stadium in Durban. The rest of us decided to stay on the beach and watch the concert. When the concert was over, we decided to go home and try and get some sleep.

The next day all of us decided to go to the Oribi Gorge. It is a lovely nature preserve about an hour and a half south of Durban. The thing is that this gorge has the highest swing in the southern hemisphere. It isn't your typical elementary school swing, it is basically a 100 meter drop into this gorge. I am too afraid of heights to do it. The suspension bridge was enough to terrify me!!! So out 14 of us, three of us didn't go. There is really no way to describe it. I took videos and pictures of everyone who decided to do it. It was a beautiful day and it was entertaining watching them fall down to their doom.

After the swing, we all went to lunch at the leopard rock cafe. This restaurant looked out over a part of the gorge. BEAUTIFUL! It also was next to this rock that looked like pride rock from the Lion King. We did find an orange cat there and decided the he was Simba. After that photo op, we went on the Echo Valley Coffee tour and drank some delicious homegrown coffee. After that it was time to go home.

We all decided to go out that night. We went to Florida street. It is the happening street in the city. It was pretty amazing. We watched the third place game at the Booty Bar. No joke, the Booty Bar. After that, we decided to go to a club. Around two am we decided to go home. . .

The next morning was our sleep in day!! We actually slept in until 10 and then decided to go to the beach. The beach was a good idea until it started to get windy and rainy. With another failure at the beach, we decided to go back to the Suncoast casino so some could gamble and some could watch a movie. I went with the group to watch the movie "I Love you Phillip Morris". I had never heard of it before and it wasn't what I expected either. It is based on a true story. I would explain but just search it. That might give you a better explanation. I did enjoy the movie theater though. It is weird to have assigned seats in the movies.

After the movie we decided to go home, eat a nice Sunday dinner and then go out again to see the World Cup Final. We all went to a bar called Buccaneers which is also right on the beach. The game was long and gruesome. Whoever watched, you know what I mean. I was so happy for Spain when they won but I was disappointed in all the yellow cards that were given. It was more like watching tryouts for actors than a soccer game. Anyway, we were glad that Spain won in that exciting ending. We listened to Waka Waka all the way home and then went straight to sleep so we could get up for work on Monday.

Posted by smtn912 23:26 Comments (0)


Nothing too exciting happened to me yesterday. I went to work and did rounds in the pediatrics unit. I also caught up on my sleep and decided to go to bed early. My roommate was on call last night so I had the room all to myself.

I have uploaded some photos for everyone to check out. I haven't started work yet today but we will see how it goes.

Posted by smtn912 00:31 Comments (0)

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