Thursday, March 17, 2011

Le Travail

I started work this week at the hospital. It’s definitely a big change from the last 8 months of my life, since I haven’t been working during that time. The day starts at about 5:30am, when I get up (grudgingly). I have to leave by about 6:40 am in order to ride my bike the 5 km (3 miles) to the hospital. Fortunately, it’s only about 75F at that time, so it’s not too bad when I arrive for chapel at 7 am. From chapel we go to morning report, which is a recount of patients admitted overnight or over the weekend, and a tally of all in the hospital. This means that after my physical exercise in the morning with the bike ride, I get some mental exercise trying to understand mumbled French. Listening to the vital signs is a great way to practice learning my numbers better. (For example, the french translation for 96 is literally four-twenty-sixteen. This takes practice to get it down straight.) After morning report, we start rounding on patients. This can take anywhere from 2 hours to 3 or 4, depending on the day, what procedures need to be done, and how many interruptions there are along the way. Once rounding is completed, it’s a good idea to stop by your office to see if any patients are waiting to see you. There are designated office hours, but it seems that if you are at the hospital, you will be sent patients regardless of having office hours or not. By this point you are tired, hot, and want a break. It’s likely already about 95F at this time of the day. 
Next, one of the most important parts of the day-LUNCH! Since I live at the mission, I eat the lunch provided at the hospital. So far, it has been at the house of a missionary family, and prepared by a very nice Congolese woman. It’s nice to not have to pack a lunch, or ride home and back since it’s so hot at that time of day. After lunch we may see outpatients or go back and check on some of the inpatients to see if labs have been completed, check on the progress or status of a patient, or other things. This can take the rest of the afternoon to finish. 
The first two days this week were about 11 hour days. Well, Tuesday we were done at about 3:30 pm, but I stayed and talked with my sister via Skype for a little while longer. I didn’t get home until 6 pm both days and was exhausted. I was relieved Wednesday to spend the morning finishing orientation subjects with Stephen, and then was able to go to the market to purchase a few things before heading home for the day. Today is my “alternative ministry day”, so I got to stay home and finish a few things around the house I had not yet completed. I realized today that this week has been more tiring than I first thought, as I went to bed at 8:30 pm last night because I was SO tired. I woke up about 12 hours later, still feeling a bit tired. I even took a small nap this afternoon. Could it be I’m simply not used to working 8-12 hour days in 95F heat and biking a total of 10 km each day? Na. Must be something else. =)
Today I had company for dinner for the first time. It was fun to get to try out some new recipes and prepare a meal for someone else. I discovered it takes longer to make just about anything here than what it does back home. For example, before making dinner, I decided to make some granola because I am running low.  I want to put coconut and peanuts in it. This means I have a coconut that I have to somehow open before I can grate it. With a knife, the countertop, and some brute force, I managed to get it open. I mix in the other ingredients, just up to the peanuts. These I purchased from the market, but I was informed yesterday there may be some which are no good, and should be sorted before eating. So I pour a plate full of peanuts and go about pulling out any that look funny or feel a little spongy, before putting the good ones into the granola mix. Finally I can mix up the granola to bake. Then I made Scalloped Eggplant, which entails sauteing the eggplant before putting it into the casserole dish. This takes more time than I expect, and I have to throw out a few that I burned. It requires milk, which means I have to mix up some powdered milk since you can’t buy milk here. So one more step in the recipe. Meanwhile, I realize I wanted to make rice to go with the meal, and should get that started since it could take 30 min or more to cook. (No Uncle Ben’s minute rice here.) I did manage to get it all made, and all ready about the same time, at about the time I had asked my guests to come. It was a small miracle. 
Tomorrow is Friday. I’m looking forward to the weekend. I’m hoping I will soon adjust better to the heat, schedule, and increase in exercise. But for now, it’s time for bed.

No comments: