Zainab is almost two. She first came to my clinic over a year ago and was the first to complete her childhood vaccinations at our center. Mom takes her up-country quite a bit these days, so we see a little less of her. This picture was taken during her last visit to Freetown. She's still as cute as ever!
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Today we went shopping. Well, not really. We actually didn't buy what we set out to buy. And just so you know, shopping in Freetown isn't quite like shopping in the West. The store names might make you think otherwise but it's really not the same.
Walmart is a fastfood service and Target is an electronic store. I guess they have big hopes that the chain names will bring success! Well, to expats it's rather disappointing when one is in the mood to shop. When we go shopping- it's either at the "Big Market" or at a few fabric shops or at one of the smallish Lebanese run supermarkets.
This morning we went to the “Big Market”; a huge warehouse where locals sell fabric, wood carvings, baskets, necklaces and other souvenirs. The reason we went was to pick up table cloths that we had pre-ordered over a month ago. Well, surprise surprise they were not finished. Actually they were still non-existent. Apparently business in the rainy season is so bad that the vendors can’t take huge orders (read: 12 table cloths) without having a cash deposit. Why weren’t we told that a month ago?
After leaving the market we went to “Crown Bakery”. Definitely an expat hangout as most locals can’t afford the expensive commodities. I was really looking forward to their fried chicken. However, upon entering the café, there was no chicken in sight and I remembered that a few months ago the government had put a ban on importing chicken due to the bird flu scare. Too bad for me. I settled for a not-so-expensive plate of French fries (which I could have gotten anywhere I guess).
Later in the afternoon 4 of us headed out to Lumley beach to sit, swim, read, talk. A relaxing afternoon once again. Fortunately it stayed dry so we could soak in the sun and enjoy the sea breeze. Needless to say it was an enjoyable Saturday, even though I didn’t get my fried chicken and it wasn't a shopping spree at Walmart!
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 1:55 AM
Monday, August 07, 2006
James & John came to my clinic for the first time last month. As I met them, together with their mom, I realized that it was a pretty significant meeting. With Sierra Leone having the highest maternal mortality rate in the world, it was amazing that mom made it through childbirth- delivering a set of twins. And with the highest child mortality rate in the world I guess it is amazing that both boys made it to the age of 5!
I have seen various sets of twins in the clinic. However, often I see a child that is a twin but the mom is quick to tell me the other twin died, often within the first year of life. Fortunately that is not the case for James & John.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 11:11 PM
Friday, August 04, 2006
For those interested, and for those who didn't receive "Sandra's Latest" in July- here's the link: http://lakomission.org/cms_exodus/images/stories/sandra/san200607.pdf
Links to other documents can be found at the bottom right of this blog. Also, I’ve changed the comments settings on my blog- so you should be able to leave comments again (until I get too much spam and have to change the settings again!).
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 10:34 PM
Thursday, August 03, 2006
One of my most frequent patients came to the clinic again this week. The first time I saw her was in May 2005, just after the clinic opened. Since then she has come to the clinic about once every 1-2 months; with various illnesses- cough, malaria, ear infection, dysentery, ring worm, boils. Today she came in, first of all with a big smile and a high five, and second of all, with a history of a cough and cold. She was quick to ask for my stethoscope and squealed with delight when I placed the stethoscope around her neck! It was fun to hear her laugh. She then sat very quietly through the examination, pointing out to me where to place my stethoscope. I guess maybe she has come in one too many times. However, I would rather have my patients come in a few times too many, than one time too few or too late. It’s fun to be able to build a relationship with some of my patients!
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 1:29 AM
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Eleven days ago I treated a 6 year old girl with pretty bad malaria and anemia. (Hb 6.3). She tolerated oral medication well but because she had so many parasites in her blood I asked her to come for follow-up two days later. Although she was feeling a bit better on review and there were no more parasites in her blood, her hemoglobin was dropping (now at 4.6). Since she made a somewhat lethargic impression I thought it was better to refer her for a blood transfusion. After calling the doctor at the (NGO run) referral center I sent mom and child there with a referral letter, assuming the child would quickly improve after receiving a unit or two of blood. Sadly, I found out today that she died 4 days ago. She never went to the referral center, she never received blood. Instead her mother took her to some small clinic and the child only received iv fluids.
In a country where the child mortality rate is the highest in the world, I guess this shouldn’t take me by surprise. However, this child had passed the age of 5, supposedly suggesting that she had survived the worst. I guess not. I guess this explains the low life expectancy in Sierra Leone too. If only the mother would have taken the child to the referral center. If only the small clinic would have realized that the child needed a blood transfusion. If only we had reinforced the fact that without blood, this child just might die. If only children would stop dying from preventable and curable diseases.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 12:40 AM