First week impressions

augusti 29, 2008

Hello again!

It’s been more than a week since my last post, but I’ve actually only been three days on site in Port Harcourt. On route I spent two days of briefing in Paris and one day in Abuja; the capital of Nigeria. The trip was quite uneventful, although some aspects of the Nigerian culture requires some getting used to; when checking in at the airport for my flight to Port Harcourt, one could easily make the mistake of standing in the line to the counter marked “Check-in Port Harcourt”. Needless to say, when checking in to Port Harcourt you should of course stand in the line “Tickets Lagos”… But on the other hand the airport staff was extremely kind once my MSF status was known. I carried some orthopedic instruments, and when asked what it was I said they were for MSF and Teme hospital in Port Harcourt. The staff then greeted me, said I was welcome and made my airport troubles vanish. Even the security guy at the metal detector presented himself and said I was welcome; whatever MSF is doing at Port Harcourt, it must be good and the word has reached even Abuja!

So, how is the hospital, work, colleagues and patients? In my next post I’ll walk you thru a typical day at work, but I’ll give you a short tease of how the setting is:

Traffic is horrific (can’t think of any worse word, but if I could I would use that word instead); 5 (yes, five!) people on a single motorbike is nothing unusual (all barefooted with no helmets). Traffic accidents are thus a major and unlimited source of patients. Health care is extremely limited (or expensive) and local healers are commonly utilized. One patient came with an open fracture of the ankle that an healer tried to treat with a dressing soaked in feces; suffice it to say that the wound had some unmistakable signs of infection… Other sources are gunshot wounds, knife traumas, or just plain street violence. All patients are young; the oldest three patients I’ve had (out of 16 cases in my first three days) were 71, 53, and 39 years old; the rest being in their twenties.

These first days I’ve been struggling with TLAs (Three Letter Abbreviations), my English (which is not at all the English that people in Port Harcourt is speaking) and names (there are a lot of Miracle, Godsgift, Bigman, Precious, Lucky, and Friday; and should we really operate Saturday Sunday on Monday? Shouldn’t we operate him on Tuesday instead? Lots of confusion and a giggle or two…). For the anesthesiologists of you: Ketamine is now my drug of choice, an Hb of 55 g/l is not uncommon (or anything really troublesome; we don’t have much blood anyhow so there is no need/use of worrying), and despite what it says in textbooks an abdominal gunshot victim with an Hb of 59 g/l does not necessarily react with a tachycardia…

So much for my effort of keeping it short…next time I’ll try to throw in some pictures to lighten it up!

6 svar to “First week impressions”

  1. Åsa Says:

    Hej Henrik!
    Följer din blogg, Uffe är i Kina och där är denna sida stängd så jag får kopiera och skicka den via mail istället. Vi tänker på dig och hoppas att du har det ok. Imorgon skall jag & Nina träffas och käka middag. Sköt om dig! Kram Å

  2. Nina Says:

    Hej vännen! Läser givetvis din blogg. Underhållande! Som du ser i Åsas inlägg så skall vi käka middag! Blogga vidare och ha kul!
    Puss och Kram
    Nina och Dex

  3. Fredrik Says:

    Hola Henrik, min första blog jag läser och det är bra.
    Mäktigt att du vågar göra ngt jag känner att jag borde göra fast jag vet att jag ej kommer göra. För bekväm och feg. Lägger istället mitt krut på att gå runt och samla in namnunderskrifter på KI och KS. Känns nu ganska torftigt.
    Ser fram emot nästa inlägg.

  4. CB Says:

    Hi there! Doing fine, I see 😉
    Although I have no doubt that you will complete the first of the two goals you mentioned in your first post, I admit to be quite skeptical when it comes to master the 7 balls juggling in a 6-week time. But you are the one who taught me that Swedes easily manage with ”flera bollar i luften”, so why not! Wait and see 😉 I take the bet…
    I recently saw some pictures of the Teme Hospital and needless to say that it looked quite rudimentary. But with your strong will, your excellent skills and your happy nature I am quite sure that you might even be able to bring some grateful smiles on the faces of people who have only known pain, misery and death.
    You are doing well Bunny 😉
    Good luck,
    Tusen Puss and Purr
    CB, Mint and Buddy

  5. Sophie Says:

    Hej Henrik! Vad grymt att du är i Afrika med MSF!Spännande läsning! Kommer fortsätta läsa din blogg alla gånger. Ha det bra och take care out there!

    Sophie på Sahlgrenska:)

  6. Uffe Says:

    Hej Henrik !
    Nyss hemkommen från Kina och hade hoppas på att få bli ”walked thru a typical day at work” nu när jag äntligen har access till din spännande blogg.
    Känns verkligen som vi har blivit ”teased” tillräckligt länge…. Skippa jongleringen nu och ”blogga på” lite rejälare….

    Sticker till Portugal om en timme och hoppas att jag kan få läsa nå´t spännade från ditt äventyr (behöver få in lite ”excitements”i mitt inrutade arbetsliv.

    Hoppas att allt är väl med dig och att du snart kommer hem till Sverige. Vi hjälper Nina med ”vinterstängning” den 19/9

    Har läst lite om logistikfunktionen hos MSF och det kan kanske bli ett alternativ för mig om Åsa åker som syrra nå´n gång i framtiden..

    Lycka till med fortsättning av ditt åtagande !!



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