Sunday, October 21, 2012

Life is a Roller Coaster

I recall receiving a BBM that compared life to a roller coaster. I zoned-out after reading the first line which stated what anyone might have guessed; that life has ups & downs. (Aside: Blackberry users will agree - this derailment is an unavoidable side-effect after use of BBM longer than a year). Sure enough life has its ups & downs, the upward times that at first seem to drag along.The spectacular view when you eventually reach the peak and have courage enough to open your eyes. To see, not just look. Quickly, else you'll miss it. The thrilling moments that subjectively are only just that, moments. The times you're still catching your breath and wondering if such a tachycardia is compatible with life...and there you go again whoooooop. The fact the ride only lasts for a specified time-period. You need to enjoy all you can before it expires. 'Have your money's worth' they said. Spectators admire you, and wonder how you do it, smiling, sometimes shrieking. But you are secured with a safety belt -your Salaah- the ultimate protector. The guards checked you had it secure before starting. You feel safe regardless of whether its up or down. Nothing can throw you off-track. And besides, you are, with both hands tightly clutching the handlebar - the Qur'an - what more do you need for support?  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Youth Day

So yesterday (Sat 16th June) I was invited to join the 'Muslim Women's Group' (lol, I'm not sure they call themselves as such) to  a children's shelter to help hand out Soup and bread and Blankets.

There were more children than I expected - probably since it was a public holiday, other kids also decided to be part of the shelter for the day.

First they performed a few songs for us, most of em in Sotho so we understood little. I enjoyed observing the expressions of the Muslim children; the older ones seemed to stare in pity, the younger ones looked on with a mixture of curiosity, fear and wonder. One of them commented that the children seemed well dressed, to which I agreed. But I am certain they were told to were their best clothes for the "Youth Day celebrations"

We need to see more people whose needs of the day include finding food and shoes that fit. Guilty feelings enveloped me when I looked down at my own branded jeans and matching scarf, and added up the approximate cost of all I was wearing.

If I've got it right, most of these children are abandoned, or orphaned or their parents are too sick or too drunk or too poor to take care of them. Sigh. The injustices of the human race.

I felt an urge to pick each one up. Cuddle them. Each one is special. Each one deserves to be hugged.

Our youth are still suffering, They are still being shot and killed. The only difference is the killer is not the Apartheid  police. Youth Day cannot be a celebration.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


"Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should talk what is good or keep quiet, and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should not hurt (or insult) his neighbor; and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should entertain his guest generously." [Bukhari Vol 8 Book 76 No 482]
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Refections on Internal Medicine

Internal Medicine is over. For this year at least. 8 weeks plus 1week exam. Khalaas.
This post is also rather old but I promised Fadiosis a post on Internal Med so here goes.

Pelonomi Hospital – General medicine.
The reality of the HIV/AIDS struck me here. We get really excited when our patients actually test negative. It’s true. And it’s sad. The biggest need is to get rid of the stigma attached to the disease. If people start accepting Aids like they accept diabetes and come for tests earlier, then we can use ARVs as Allah has provided us. Which (just like diabetes), doesn’t cure but controls the course of the disease.  Ok, let me get this clear – I am in no way condoning promiscuity – it’s just frustrating to see so many people discarded for palliative care. And often patients are victims of their circumstances. Sigh.

Anyway, the three weeks at PH were long and tiring. Pelonomi is hot and sweaty, devoid of purposeful air-cooling systems and lacks stock. Get used to making do. This is Africa. Also it seems to be constantly under construction so you have to quickly learn the labyrinthine ways of getting around.  At night we have a security guard that escorts the girls around because of previous ugly incidents.
But all’s not bad – the consultants & regs & interns are really cool and I learnt a lot.

Endocrine (Univeritas Academic Hospital)
You never want to get fat after rotating there!

Geriatrics (UAH)
It happened to be my birthday again during my rotation at geriatrics. (On a side note, one of the birthday messages I received said I should count years by the number of friends I have. Bleh. By that calculation, I should be dead already.) One of my patients was quite excited about it being my 21st birthday. I smiled fakely at her - my thoughts were contrary to this big smile. As a child, I always yearned to be older.*rolls eyes. And to reach a super-old age like my grannies (86 and 90years)(May Allah grant them Jannah). I associated old-age with wisdom, experience and big families. With being retired and having free time to recite pages of Qur’an. True, it is an opportunity to be forgiven. Naively, I associated it with being without responsibility. I didn’t think that loss of elasticity meant more than wrinkles. It means being blind and deaf and incontinent and demented. It means being dependant on other people’s good nature and values to not laugh at you when you say something silly, to be patient when you can’t hear. To walk you to the bathroom in case you fall and get a death-sentence-hip-fracture. To speak for you coz most people can’t understand what you’re saying after that stroke. You are stiff all over. Your hands are tied coz the nurses complain about you pulling out the drip. The problem list fills the page. Somehow, you seem in the way.   
I don’t want to get old.

                      View from Geriatric ward, Universitas Hospital. Lol, I can see my flat in this pic!

Haematology (UAH)
The haematologists seem to be the happiest people around (and the cleverest IMO.)(All the internal people are too clever. I could never specialise in Internal Med – its too clever). Shame, the dr that assessed us at the end of the week kept asking us if we were satisfied with the mark he gave us. He really felt bad about the possibility of under-assessing us. J  Imagine me saying: “I don’t like this mark.” :D

Neurology (UAH)
I think I could probably write a separate blog-post for each one of the patients that we saw in our two-week rotation here. Neurological disease always seems to touch some softer part in me – I really pity most of them. Or indeed, I more admire their resilience and strong coping mechanisms. Neurology is very interesting but the frustrating thing for me is the most you can do for your patients is diagnose their condition and identify the lesion. Not many treatment options, many of the available treatment options have such horrid side-effects.

The most stressful thing ever. Read the question, enter the room, examine the patient with a commentary, say what you find and think the possible diagnosis and get out. Total of 6minutes.  9 patients (plus 7 rest stations).

This was my first one and I’m glad coz it was the easiest give-away BMI & blood pressure measurement.  Wow, they even have a stethoscope with two ear pieces so the examiner can also hear those korottkoff sounds!

In retrospect I feel like quite an idiot for not identifying the mitral stenosis. The dr was trying to give so many clues and I still didn’t figure it out. Whatever.

COPD – this station was fun enough. I had episode of blankness – not knowing what to do next. Then it all came back in time so Alhamdulillah, went wellJ

I thought I would have failed this station (surprisingly I didn’t). I’m not sure what I was doing or what was wrong with the patient L

Our instructions asked us to complete another respiratory exam – and apparently the patient had SLE. I didn’t get that far. Lol, the dr had his eyebrow raised throughout my examination –not a good sign.

Thyroid exam – honestly wasn’t all that bad. I could have given a better differential though.

Examination of lower limbs – patient had spastic motor paralysis. And hyper-reflexia. Also wasn’t all that bad.

This patient had the most awesome lymph nodes ever. I never felt such large ones before! Missed the epitrochlear one though.

Station 8
The epic fail station. Abdominal exam. There was no way I was going to know what was going on that obese patient in less than 5minutes. I had no clue what I was palpating there. I got nervous. And I failed L. I heard afterwards that saying the examination is difficult would have got you some decent marks. Abdominal exam and I scarred for life.

We had to get over 60% and fail only a max of two stations in order to promote. Alhamdulillah! I promoted so I don’t have to go through that torture again. Well... at least for Internal Medicine. JJJJ