Emma’s Medical Elective – Lots of Learning
Thursday and Friday of last week I spent on the leprosy wards. I attended both the reaction ward round and the ulcer ward round. Ward rounds here were very interesting as myself, the other visitors, the doctor and all of the patients all sat around in a circle and each patient came up individually to speak to the doctor rather than us walking around everyone’s beds. I was quite pleased as it meant I wouldn’t have to stand in the heat for hours and worry I’d faint! It was very interesting learning from the dermatologists about the different types of leprosy reaction, their treatment and also adverse reactions to the leprosy treatment itself. Ulcers, usually something I’m a bit squeamish about at home, were very interesting here. The surgeon was brilliant teaching me about the nerve damage caused by leprosy and how this can result in ulcers, possible infection spreading to the bone and the then potential need for amputation. On Friday afternoon I joined the surgeon in theatre for Septic Surgery. Here he looked again at the ulcers that needed further treatment and also amputated a toe where the bone was completely damaged due to infection. (I also saw a tooth extraction for the first time!) One thing that was particularly interesting was that (apart from the tooth extraction) none of the patients required general or even local anaesthetic. The surgeon explained to me that due to the nerve damage leprosy causes, patients lose sensation in their peripheral nerves and so no anaesthetic is needed. He says next time I can hopefully assist in some surgery too!
On Saturday I joined Dr Indra and his family at their local church. This week was Youth Day and so all of the young people, including Dr Indra’s children, were performing music and dance. This was very nice as it meant I didn’t need to understand much Nepali to appreciate what was going on – all of them were brilliant and I got to see some traditional Nepalese dancing too! After this we went into Kathmandu where Rachel, Dr Indra’s daughter, took me on my first public bus experience and showed me around Kathmandu while explaing to me some of the history and pointing out different things to see. I then visited the Kings Palace and the tourist area of Thamel to do some shopping!
On Sunday I visited an English speaking church with Dr Deanna, one of the microbiologists working at Anandaban. Singing the same songs as church in Glasgow it felt a bit like home away from home! I then wandered for the rest of the day around Patan, crossing the busy roads by myself and getting quite ripped off by one of the tour guides! I did make my first negotiation on a taxi price though before heading back to Anandaban.
This Thursday, weather and road permitting, I will hopefully be visiting the Terai region of Nepal reaching some more rural communities affected by leprosy. I’ll hopefully have another blog after that with something a bit different.