Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day at Lewanika Hospital, Mongu

Today was our first clinical day at the Lewanika Hospital. We have our tentitive schedules for the upcomnig 4 weeks, and we rotate around quite a bit. This week I will be spending time in the intensive care unit. The patient I cared with today had a previous poisoning, and had to have surgery to fix her stomach from the damage. Currently the patient is receiving food through a tube directly into her intestine, as her stomach is left to heal. There was no prognosis communicated, so I plan to follow this patient and see what the doctor's plans are for the week. While re-starting an IV on the patient, I began to gain insight on how limited supplies really are here. The needles used to insert an IV are different than the ones in Canada - which retract the needle quite nicely to prevent the nurse from being poked - and of course no fancy dressings to keep the IV site clean. Instead the IV is just taped in place, and we hope that it won't get infected... Something I noticed today that really gave me a good feeling about my practice was the look of my patient after we washed and re-made the bed with clean blankets. We sat the patient up to assist with breathing and make feedings easier, and she/he looked unbelievably better when we were finished. I can't wait to follow the patient this week and see what happens, and also continue to open my eyes to the Zambian culture. I met a nurse from the US today who has been working here for 5 months, and she gave me some medical Lozi words (the local language) to help me communicate better with my patients - we will share the notebook around the house this week and hopefully will have a better grasp on Lozi soon! It's not as simple as the Zambians say.

At the end of the day a few of us also had a quick discussion about pain control. Pain medication is very limited here... my patient only had two days with pain medication post-operatively, and it is clear it is still very painful to move (there is a long abdominal incision healing still, the patient had surgery 5 days ago). Especially with having my own recent surgery this past summer, I had a hard time not having anything to give my patient as she/he grimaced in pain with even the slightest change of position. Life, and hospital work, just is not the same here as in Canada.

I love you and miss you all back home in Canada, and look forward to seeing you in 5 weeks. Until then, I will continue on with my practice and Lozi lessons! <3 Happy Valentines day to you all,
With love, Melanie


  1. Hi Melanie, grandma let me know about your blog. It is nice to hear about what you are up to. Sounds very challenging and rewarding. I hope you are doing well. Uncle Jim

  2. Hi Melanie
    just learnign to blog. Hope you are doing well

  3. Hi Uncle Jim and Grandma! So sorry I did not see your comments posted earlier! Everything is going well here in Africa, it can be really hard seeing the poorest of the poor and the sickest of the sick... but we continue to do our best to help as much as we can and pray for the rest. Hope you both are doing well back in Canada, I would love to see you sometime when I am home!
    Love, Melanie