Another year, saving lives.

Filed in Abasi by on 26th June 2019

As it’s nearly a year since I posted an update, here it is.

June 2018: Abasi was invited to a university to give 3 evening class lectures of 3 hours each on HIV, Sexual Health and General Health. It seemed to go down well.

Abasi started to use his car with Taxify (a service similar to Uber) to supplement his earnings as a doctor. On one occasion he lent his car to a close friend to drop an acquaintance home. Unfortunately the car got hit by a drunk driver and was badly damaged though the people were ok. It took some time for the insurance to deal with the car, so Abasi had a rather difficult journey to work for the next few weeks as there was no public transport that went to the hospital.

July 2018: The drunk driver was fined 10,000 shillings (about £5) and Abasi was left out of pocket for the cost of having his car towed to the garage. However he was insured so the insurance paid for the repairs.

Things continued downhill when Abasi got news that his sister had collapsed at school. She had a week resting at home but as soon as she returned to school she collapsed again. The local hospital couldn’t find anything wrong. However one of the psychiatrists at the hospital suggested she may have Conversional Disorder which causes her brain to shut down when something is causing her fear levels to rise. So she had to stay at home until Abasi could afford a counsellor.

Then Abasi got evicted from his house. Apparently the owner is known to do this halfway through the tenancy so as to get in someone paying higher rent. However Abasi was lucky to find alternative accommodation.

August 2018: Abasi moved into the new house and got all the cleaning and repairs sorted out, with help from his fiancée. As she didn’t have a job and the finances were tight, they decided to wait until 2019 to get married, rather than get married sooner. His fiancée sister was getting married in September so it would have been a bit tricky to have 2 weddings close together.

In mid August the car was ready and Abasi started doing Taxify to help pay for the insurance excess and other expenses.

September 2018: Taxify reduced the amount of money they were paying drivers so Abasi decided to stop as he would be out of pocket with the new rates. However he did have enough money to pay for his sister’s counselling and that was due to happen sometime this month. He was also able to go to his fiancée’s sisters wedding though that involved a 16 hour bus journey!

On a more positive note Abasi was appointed to a new position of head of Oncology and Palliative Care. This will involve writing a proposal, SPO and also plan a budget for onco-palliative care, as well as attending seminars, and linking patients with the Bugando oncology unit.

October 2018: This month was supposed to be Abasi’s annual leave (20 days). He spent the first 10 days of his leave doing taxi work to raise some cash. He then got told to attend a symposium on “Global cancer control in the 21st century: a multidisciplinary approach” at Malaika beach resort which was a 4 star hotel! He was then asked to return to work early as some members of staff had left for better paying jobs. He then had to present an update to all staff. So not the annual leave he had expected.

His sister started to see the counsellor this month, and about half the hospital staff went to an annual network meeting in South Africa, leaving the clinic in the remaining staff’s hands. They went to present various research results, two of which Abasi was co-researcher on, so he was pleased.

November 2018: This was an eventful month. Abasi kept helping his fiancée apply for jobs, and his sister continued to attend counselling. But then came his first truly memorable moment since becoming a doctor. In his own words…

“It was a regular Thursday after completion of Life support training, and I was the doctor on duty that day when a relative brought in a child for exposed care. The relative suddenly fell down and lost consciousness. An Emergency alert was made and everyone ran to the client waiting area where quickly we carried the patient to the treatment room. Four doctors, three nurses and my supervisor were there. I was the one in charge of leading the whole situation. In my primary assessment the patient was not breathing and unresponsive so I asked a nurse to give oxygen while I was listening to her chest, but found no cardiac activity at all. Everyone panicked and I did as well for few seconds but I then jumped to the table,  sat on the patient and started doing chest compressions while others were drawing blood samples for more investigations. We had no one to tell us the patient history and so were in the dark. I kept on doing compressions for 10 minutes without any improvement so I decided to shock the patient. However no one knew how to use the defibrillator. I said I have seen it being done in medical series on TV several times so if that was what I was supposed to do, then I will do it! I asked my supervisor to charge to 200J which she didn’t understand so I instructed her while was still doing chest compressions. She did it and I gave  the charge to the patient but no response. Shot at 300J  no response but after few seconds we found a pulse. I was so happy so I kept on top of patient ventilating the patient while one of our cars took a patient to the Bugando Emergency  department. I gave my report to the specialist there and he was impressed by what we did to save that woman life. It was found later that she had  myocardial Infarction at the back of her heart which could have killed her if we hadn’t given emergency help. This was so far the best of all days since I came to the hospital.”

Later in the month Abasi got the news that his finance had secured a job at National Aids Control Program(NACP) in Dodoma. It took 49 job applications but she finally had a job, even though they will be some 600 kilometres apart!

December 2018: The first good news of the month was that Abasi’s sister had responded to treatment and was now ready to return to school. Abasi drove his fiancée to Dodoma to help her get settled in and ready to start her new job. In her first few weeks there she travelled to Dar and Tanga being introduced to the people and role she was responsible for. It turns out that she is getting more pay than Abasi and is technically his boss!

Back to work and Abasi had to pick up all the IT issues while the IT person was on annual leave, as well as his usual organisational role and attending to patients. He also did a session on the local radio on the essence of drinking water, safety and challenges especially in this rainy season. He was also happy as they had two more paediatricians come for the year, giving him some respite from the workload.

So after that it was time to look forward to going home for Christmas and to planning the wedding next year.

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