Tuesday, 10 April 2012

A Small Celebration

I am writing this in the Hilton bar, watching it get dark and stormy outside. Having a gin and tonic, with ice and lemon. (If the ice is not safe at the Hilton, well the world is falling apart!). The bill came to almost 50 birr, which seems outrageous when I am used to paying 3 birr for a coffee or 10 birr for a beer, but it comes to about 3 bucks.

I am getting the hang of things. Today I found a supply of 6.5 and 7 ET tubes the residents did not know about, before we needed them in a hurry. When we ran out of oxytocin I rushed out to raid a specific fridge I knew about, but the resident did not. I have also found a urinal in the basement of the hospital which does not stink and which has a working tap. This is an Ethiopian washroom trifecta!

One of the nurse anaesthetists came up to me to tell me that some blocks I had done the previous day worked, despite my misgivings. That was so nice of her.

One of the things I am supposed to be doing is increasing the use of spinals for CSections, which is currently about 25%, compared to about 98% in Canada. I talked to one of the nurse anaesthetists who explained they only have three spinal needle kits, which they clean, sterilize and reuse. The process takes 24 hours, so they often don’t have equipment. Also they want the correct drugs to treat hypotension after a spinal and they are not available. This should be easy to fix.

I met some of the Toronto psychiatrists who are coming to Addis, and we are going out to dinner with them to the Cottage Restaurant, which is apparently a favourite of expatriates in Addis. They were talking about finding a gym or a squash club to keep fit. They obviously don’t work on the 6th floor and walk down to the ground floor for coffee two or three times a day! (There are elevators but they are so slow no-one ever seems to use them.)

Tomorrow I have to get up about 5:45 to go to meet a colleague at the airport. She has managed to find a route from Toronto to Addis which involves two overnight flights and a 12 hour lay-over in Europe. Don’t envy her that experience! I have ordered a taxi for 6:15 a.m “ferenji time”, but I will be a bit surprised if it turns up on time. The Ethiopian clocks are six hours ahead of the foreigner’s time. An Ethiopian would consider 6 o clock to be the sixth hour after dawn, or what we would call noon. The hospital clocks run on Ethiopian time. All entries in the patient charts are in English, but using the Ethiopian calendar, so if I need to know when some test was done I have to get an Ethiopian to interpret.

Wednesday is devoted to lectures, one of which I have to give, but I don’t have to go to the Operating Room or Labour Floor, so it almost counts like a day off.

I got lost walking to the Hilton. I was using a blue tower as a landmark, but it seems there are more than one. I was a little anxious as I had a lot of cash, my netbook and a smartphone with me.  Near Ambassador Park a kid came up to me trying to sell me a packet of paper napkins. I realized this was a ruse used by pickpockets, and as I looked him in the eye, I saw him looking down at my messenger bag. I smiled, shook my head sadly, clutched my bag and walked off at a brisk pace.

I came to the Hilton to buy a ticket for Lalibela for the weekend after next. I bought four $100 US bills with me, as many places do not take VISA. The ticket only came to $US 129. When I went to pay, I found that I had only brought one $100 bill, and the other three were only US $10 bills. I had exactly $130 US on me, so I paid for the ticket and got a buck in change. Lucky! 

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