Block I, 2009
I just wanted to say a few things before I head home:
- Mostly enjoy this amazing experience
- Many thanks to Terrie for her wisdom, kindness, generosity and hospitality
- To the people of Malawi (especially the children), thanks for letting me enjoy your culture and country
A couple words of advice:
- Be prepared to be proposed to
- The curio vendors will want to trade with any article of clothing on your body
- Be prepared to gain weight, despite doing Debbie Seibers’ “Slim in 6” DVD
- Use the backyard/patio as much as possible
- Take a million pictures
- Enjoy every moment of every day
- Drink the water!
- If you take the luxury coach, get your poo in before they make the announcement “Urine only.”
If you don’t want to have a small right ventricular MI, don’t take a minibus anywhere other than around town.
I have seen things that I have only read about at home (i.e., malaria in pregnancy) and I was shocked to see an eclamptic seizure my first day on the wards.
Working in Surgery at Queens has changed my perception completely. After working here fewer cases will seem hopeless. The surgeons here showed me how much can be done with very few resources and that with a little ingenuity almost any surgery can be performed. The cases they took on were mind-blowing!
Family dinners were my favorite time of the day. We had some life-altering historic milestones (Obama’s inauguration, match day) and I am honored my group was part of that for me.
Days at Queens can be hard and tearful and amazing all at once.
Block II 2009
Niamh Condon, Katie Kloss, Shant Korkigian, Emily Gold, Tom Mikulski, Angela Olson, Kim Pfotenhauer, Samantha Strickler
Things our group lacked:
- Gastric Satiety
Group 2’s Jams
- Country Road, John Denver
- Total Eclipse of the Heart, Bonnie Tyler
- Hung Up, Madonna
- Man Eater, Nelly Furtado
Things we’re pretty much famous for:
- Consuming more beer than any other group Terrie has ever had (and having the first ever flip cup game in Malawi)
- Longest period of time before watching DVDs and least amount of DVD nights at all (25 days an only one DVD – “Slum Dog” rocks)
- Most number of bags lost and not immediately returned (five bags, 4-6 nights)
- Only group ever to make team bandannas
- Obtaining a guitar and rocking out on the porch
- Three-course meals for a week when Simoni was gone
- “Sisterhood of the Traveling Red Skirt”
- All-time wettest weekend on Mumbo Island
Terrie makes everything here possible, but you make the experience. Embrace everything … your group, the hospital, the weekends, the market, the people, the back porch. Do not get frustrated, take everything with a grain of salt and find the beauty in everything and everyone. Take the hospital seriously. There are a lot of different things to learn and to be gained. Don’t be afraid to walk to your own beat, but be a team player. Your group is a family you won’t forget.
When I look back on this experience in 30 years, I probably won’t remember how I was practically stung/bitten/eaten ALIVE by every insect in Africa. I probably won’t remember that four of us lost our bags for a week and had to wear the same outfit every day. Probably won’t remember my doxy sunburn or that my camera card corrupted itself and now I can’t access any of my pics. I would like to say that I probably won’t remember my near urinary incontinence on safari and had to jump out of the Jeep to relieve myself … but I’ll probably never be able to live that one down. (Beware the Zambian beer!) I WILL remember the laughs, the amazing weekend excursions, the animals. I WILL remember the people – the children smiling and waving and calling “azungu”! These Malawians are some of the most genuine, caring people I’ve ever met. I WILL remember how this country has touched me in a way that few things have. I’ve learned so much about life … and death. I am so luck to have been a part of this. Thank you Terrie for making this possible. You are one of my true heroes and someone I’ll always look up to. I’m anxiously awaiting your book!
Terrie, you are amazing. I really don’t know how you do it, but I aspire to be as motivated and dedicated to my work as you are. I hope we didn’t distract/bother you with our nighttime giggle parties.
I loved this adventure and hope it’s the first of many. When you can, sit on the back porch for as long as you can and talk about life with your colleagues. Never again will you have such a wonderful group of people in one area having such an experience.
Some of my favorites:
- Fav weekends: Mulanje, Mvuu, the lake
- Fav bars: Blue Elephant (but beware the Blue Ellie cocktail — tastes like Listerine and gives a wicked hangover), The Block
- Fav surgery subspecialty: Ortho. Dr. Bates is awesome and a great teacher. (Avoid the very back of 5A, the “flesh-eating bacteria ward.”)
- Fav pasttimes: Laughing, drinking Carlsberg on the porch, playing guitar and games — Spoons, Speed, Speed Scrabble.
- Worst fear: The minibuses (except the hot pink one we took to the lake)
For the past six weeks, I have been in the tertiary care “centre” of the 13-million-people-strong nation of Malawi. I think on Surgery you see things other services won’t, e.g., mob justics, wood screws used in Sx. That gives yet another of the many perspectives you’ll develop here.
Be sure to get out and walk around the city — there is so much to see and do! The six will will fly by so take lots of pictures.
Here are some of my favorite things:
- Making friends with Malawians
- Going to a village with my favorite intern
- Getting engaged to Ankour on the paradise that is Mumbo Island
- Running illegally into Mozambique
- Helping augment the labor ward and the neglected gyn ward
- Nighttime giggles in Vic Falls room
I hope that someday I will be as dedicated to patients as Terrie is.
Block III 2009
Sachi Brittin, Libby Egle, Jonathan Egle, Erin Fedak, Neil Malhotra, Nidhip Patel, Ryan Siwiec, Nik Vuljaj
- Exchange $ at Victoria Forex. Ask for Patrick and negotiate the rate. We got him to 178 kwacha. Say Annie sent you.
- Read Paul Farmer (Mountains Beyond Mountains) while you are here
- Put sunscreen on your nose if taking Doxy!!
- Trade your stuff with everyone. Shoes and T-shirts especially at Cape Maclear.
- Golf at Blantyre Sports Complex on Victoria Ave.
- Invite other students/friends for dinner
- On Internal Med, find a 5th year student or consultant to stick with; lunch most days for 250 kwacha
- Grand rounds on Wed: Free lunch
- Go to the Sports Complex to work out/play soccer. It is free if you act like you belong there.
- Westin – good tailor in town. The only older man, you can’t miss him.
- Don’t climb Michiru hungover. You don’t need a guide. Takes 2-3 hours. Take H2O and snack.
- Don’t leave everything you want to do until the last week.
- When things don’t go as planned, laugh and remember … TIA.