It has been awhile since I have written. One factor has been an influx of patients - we had 40 admissions to hospital on August 31. Twenty-eight patients had sleeping sickness and 12 had malaria, malnutrition or other important pathologies.
As well, we had many valued visitors and advisors recently to our project. And this sub-base has been more than a bit stressful lately for a number of reasons. The biggest factor leading to stress is that it is a start-up
project. We are constantly evolving and improving. And to be frank, this is a rough, rural, imperfect project - isolated in every way possible, not yet fully staffed, and with a work overload. You can easily work yourself right into the ground here. I don't want to end up like that.
Our recent guests included a German journalist and a communications officer from the MSF-Germany. For everyone who has been in the field with MSF they know that visitors are a useful opportunity to reflect on how the mission is going - its strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. Another benefit of visitors is that they bring some well-deserved treats. Our visitors from Europe, in particular Yasmin - brought many items that we cannot easily get in the field and savor:
-iced tea crystals
-batteries and a recharger for the nurses night headlamps
-some good soap
On a personal side, I've had to adjust my work pace in order to make sure I stay healthy too. This has included:
-more regular walks into the countryside (which our American nurse-practitioner loves go on)
-1/2 beer with dinner
-more movie nights
-more non-medical reading (especially James Orbinski's book - An Imperfect Offering - which I hope will give me some inspiration and insight)
-stopping work at some point in the evening and not working all night
-sleeping outside more
-moving out of the hospital-office compound to our new expat tukuls across the road
-doing more stretching while our American nurse-practitioner does her yoga
-delegating more simple, routine medical work to our nurses
-more exercise - I'm trying to rig up a stationary bicycle
I'm hopeful these strategies will keep me a good doctor, a good volunteer, a good person and a good MSF'er.
Warm wishes from the Central African Republic,