Passage To India 

Sorry I have been quiet for a while. 

I had been swamped at work and then had a 10 day break during which time we had a family trip to India!

It was supposed to be a spiritual getaway to Varanasi, a city in North India where the Ganges river runs. It’s believed in Hindu culture that you must atleast once in your lifetime go to Varanasi and visit the Ganges river to absolve yourself of your sins and feel the presence of God.

For me it meant a photography getaway ofcourse!
Here is the Ganges river in all its glory! Well actually it’s flooded. It’s apparently been extra rainy in Varanasi this year meaning the boats stationary on the side of the pic cannot sail on the river as they usually do. I didn’t get to cruise down the Ganges.

The local Varanasi dwellers pray to the Ganges river every evening and offer gifts and sacred flames to the Goddess of the river. Quite a lovely experience.

This is a place ccalled Sarnath. It contains the ruins of a great kingdom and the temple which is still intact.

Varanasi is quite an ancient city. Every corner had something that was atleast 2000 years old. And that was pretty amazing. 

We then spent a day in Delhi 

Where I caught the India Gate at golden hour. 
It was much too hot and busy in India but it was quite an experience! 

But now I have to go back to work on Monday to surgery with a cold I caught as a souvenir from India. 

Oh well atleast the pictures are good!

In The Middle Of Nowhere

Woah it’s been a whirlwind of an elective. And I’m sorry I’ve not been updating on here about my actual elective. Other things have been happening during this time that put my stress levels super high and got in the way of my blogging about nice things regarding my elective.

And now my elective is over! I’m leaving in 4 days for home! Super excited!

Time in India has been quite interesting! Had a really good time in the emergency department where the doctors let me do pretty much everything from being part of resuscitation, doing ABGs, (my first successful one made me so happy I felt like such a nerd), and I even successfully intubated a patient who couldn’t breathe.

Very neat. Lots of hands-on stuff is why I chose this elective. So that’s a good thing.

Most of the rest of the time though I was observing doctors and talking to patients. I saw some pretty neat signs like Janeway lesions which are super rare, Eisenmenger syndrome which I’d never heard about back home, and even heard the bruits of a bilateral arterial stenosis. Pretty cool stuff.

My rural hospital experience was pretty interesting too. Met a doctor who has single-handedly been running this clinic from 25 years. She is the lone medical officer there among about 15 nurses. She does literally everything. From seeing 40 patients a day, to delivering babies, to home visits, to colposcopies. Literally everything. Her knowledge was amazing. She basically knows more than any general practitioner I had seen back home in New Zealand. Not suggesting that they were incompetent or anything. But this doctor was just pretty extraordinary.

And then there were the patients. I could seriously appreciate what poor health literacy meant, in India. A woman had been given a prescription for her hyperthyroidism. She lived quite far away from the clinic and had lost her prescription. So she went to her local pharmacy and asked for “thyroid medication”. She was given thyroxine which is the treatment for an underactive thyroid that would worsen the condition for someone who had a hyperactive thyroid like this woman did. She had no idea of the difference. And of course it’s also the pharmacist’s fault for giving her that medication without a prescription, but still. She didn’t know the difference. And that had serious effects on her health before she was able to return to the clinic and the doctor had told her to stop the thyroxine and provide the correct prescription.

I also saw an elderly couple who both had complications from type 2 diabetes. But both of them, were beggars that lived at the local temple. The doctor at the clinic told me how difficult it is to offer diet and lifestyle advice to people like this. Because hey eat more fruits and vegetables doesn’t mean anything to someone who can’t control what they eat or if they eat at all.

Super intense stuff.

The rest of Coimbatore city was pretty quiet. Not much else happening. So I spent a lot of time writing my report for this whole elective. I did get some cool pics though! 

Coimbatore is bordered by mountains so mainly a lot of interesting flora and fauna!

I’m glad to be getting home after so long. My supervisor went on leave for the last week of my elective so I get an extra week of holiday before I get back to hospital in New Zealand. Should be fun!

So. The verdict.

Was my elective life changing? No. No it wasn’t.

Did I still learn a lot?

Yes. Yes I did.

Off To Elective

Alrighty! I’m here in India!

Coimbatore, to be precise. A city in the southern part of India. Here I am to do my 8 weeks in a hospital in rural medicine and Emergency medicine.

So. Why’d I choose this place? Well it’s a developing country. It’s what uni recommends to do on your elective. Go to a developing country and learn about the health system there! That’s what I intended to do. I’ve also been to Coimbatore before, So I’m familiar with the city and the hospitals. I figured this would help me get into the system straight away without too many new place barriers. And I was sure I’d see so many different things.

So I got here. Met my supervisor who is a 70 year old woman, still practising medicine. Which for me was a big shock. Like sure I admire her drive and commitment to medicine even at this age but Gosh I would not want to keep my brain going for that long. 

Anyway she was really lovely. And unlike my selective last year (if you remember, where I found my supervisor was on a holiday and I never met him), she was on to planning my 8 weeks straight away. She took a genuine interest in my learning and said that because I’m the only student at this hospital, I can pretty much see whatever I want, and she would organise it for me. 

Major advantage, that. As opposed to going to a hospital somewhere where there are a lot of other students to compete with to see interesting things, I like being the only one given these opportunities. 

I also think I’ve picked a good hospital in terms of patients. While they all have different pathologies etc, they all speak English! Which was super impressive. I was fully prepared to have to take histories in Tamil (the language here), but it turns out that may not be as hard as I thought! So yay!

The plan for the next 8 weeks is quite varied. My supervisor is more keen than I am to get me to see as many things as possible. While my focus will be on rural medicine and ED, she also wants me to spend time with her in geriatrics, put me in neurology, nephrology, and anything else I want to experience. 

How neat is that!

I think it’s also good for my short attention span because I get tired of runs pretty quickly. 6 weeks can often be a very long time, as I’ve said lots of times before. Hopefully the variation in these 8 weeks will make that a lot easier!

So. First days are always first days like. Getting lost in hospital, making awkward conversations with the other doctors, smiling a lot without much reason, etc. But I do expect it to get easier. As most runs have.

Will keep updating! For now, I gotta go meet my supervisor!