It is my final week here in South Africa! I cannot believe it; honestly, the idea that I will be back in Georgia at least by next monday is insane. But before I start with all my goodbyes, let me talk a bit about my past week and today.
Last week I was in internal medicine. Everyone has talked about how internal will be super boring, but I absolutely loved it. I’m not saying it is the most action packed place in the hospital, but I have had the opportunity to truly understand how people heal, and well the flip side, deteriorate. Since most of the folks reading this blog probably could not care less about the medicine, I’ll skip some stuff, but please realize how unbelievably common HIV and TB are here in SA. I am not suprised when I have a patient who is HIV negative or does not have TB. When I go back to the states, I am pretty sure I am going to make a complete fool of myself by thinking everything is TB or a complication of HIV. But anyways, the doctors I followed were fantastic, but there was one in particular who loved to make me realize that I truly know absolutely nothing.
Being in Durban for the month of June, I felt like I got a decent understanding of HIV. WRONG. I know jack squat, haha this doctor I followed made me realize that HIV is just insanely complex and that it will take me years and years to truly understand the disease. However, I am proud to say that I can now read (mostly) and perform an ECG. I learned about these tests during my Human Physiology class, but actually getting to do them on patients was fantastic. The first ECG that I was responsable for was with Larissa. It was a man, so finding the spots for the leads was not difficult. HOwever, friday was my first day by myself. Because one of my doctors had been on call the whole night, he had me do an ECG on a woman by myself. I was given no warning, but after I introduced myself to the patient and told her I was a student, my professionalism wavered. When you are doing an ECG, the leads have to be in very particular places; on women, they must be under the breast. My patient was obese and had some sort of tumor growth on her nipple. Not only was I incredibly taken aback by having to hold up her fat and push her chest rather hard to feel her ribs, but then the dang machine did not work. A surgeon who had just gotten off call helped me but he still couldn’t get the machine to work. I then had to go to the ICU and get there’s; even though I asked a sister I was still sort of yelled at for taking it. ROlling this machine back to the woman’s ward was probably the most embarassing moment of the past two months. This machine was sqeaking so unbelievably loud in a silent hospital with hundreds of sick people shushing me. However, once I got that machine back, I got her ECG test done and all was well.
Another interesting patient from internal was actually a hospital error. While on rounds, this elderly lady more or less fainted then was only semi-consious and made no sense. She had been given insulin early that morning (she’s diabetic) but never any food. After a few scary moments, a glucose drip was set up and she was 100% better in five minutes. It was insane to see such a huge turn around in such little time.
I also had a few moments where I could not help but judge the hospital. I know I am young and very naive, but a woman sitting in her own urine for over two hours is absolutely unacceptable. I had a patient beg me to discharge her because of the horrible neglect she was receiving in the hospital. It truly broke my heart.
As I said earlier, today was my first day in ortho. I had an insane amount of fun. I cleaned dozens of wounds, cut stitches, and put on castes. I have plaster all over me. As gross as it may be, I love cleaning wounds; its really cool to see how the body tries to heal itself and how in just a few days you can barely tell a wound was even there. HOwever, I am freaking done and tired of all these gunshot wounds! I saw six today. Just random people with gunshot wounds on feet, hands, ankles etc. These people are just going about their days and bam, they get shot! I have had a few gangsters for patients, but most folks who come in are just random bystander.
One of my favorite patients of the day was a man named Mr. Swartz. We shared a last name, but he was a Black south african who was rustafarian. He had a gunshot wound, and since I was with him for about an hour, we got to talking. By the end he was convinced we were related because we had “similar souls.” That may have been the highlight of my day or perhaps the man who proposed to me because I was a hard working girl. He may of just been trying to be nice because I couldn’t get the dang scissors to work to save my life. (DOn’t judge until you have seen these scissors). But overall, I am ecstatic in ortho and cannot wait for tomorrow!