Monday, 27 June 2011

Borneo :)

Oooh, I'm new to this whole blogging malarkey, but thought I'd better give it a go...

I've now been in Malaysian Borneo for just over a week. I'm currently typing this in a sweaty little room at midnight, so apologies if I sound slightly delirious, sleep-deprived and dehydrated :)

Things are going well so far. On the way here, Nadiah and I had 2  stop-overs - one in Dubai (in the palm-treed airport) and another in Brunei, where our enthusiastic tour guide informed us that if we converted to Islam, we'd get media coverage for a day (fame at last!), a free house and an all-expenses paid trip to Mecca!

Our hostel in Kota Kinabalu is fantastic - the staff are delightful, the other guests are lovely, the water is warm (though I've been taking cold showers as its so hot here) and we have a friendly gecko 'Gregg' sharing our room. I guess the only small downside is that we're in the epicenter of the 'transvestite red light district'...

Things in A&E are busy and bloody - it can be a tad demoralising at times, as the language barrier makes communication difficult and hands-on experience is limited, but the Malaysian students are a great help and I've met patients with a variety of interesting cases - TB, Pneumonia, Malaria, Dengue, HIV, many motorbike accidents, bowel obstruction, strokes, tumours, wounds, falls, vertigo, heart attacks... I've also taken bloods, sutured a knife wound, inserted a line, performed countless ECGs, done an ultrasound to check on a 12 week old fetus and assisted as a comatose severely hypoglycaemic patient was apparently  'brought back to life' following a simple glucose infusion and fluid resuscitation! Amazing!

I've had the opportunity to ride at high speeds along windy, wild and busy roads with the ambulances a few times too. The first patient we were called out to see was unfortunately already dead on arrival. It was a really sad situation that profoundly affected me. Just months before, this man had had a good job and a home for his family. But then he'd become ill, had surgery, lost his job, lost his home, and ended up with a horrendously infected wound, lying dead among rubble and swarming flies, leaving behind a wife and 2 small children... so sad. I wish I could have done more, but the ambulance staff assured me that the police would handle the situation... I'm still worried about his poor wife and children... Hmm, I really do take my home, security, sanitation, health, freedom, family, friends, education, opportunities and innumerable other blessings for granted... I am so unbelievably fortunate. It can be easy to lose sight of this sometimes...

I'm getting quite sleepy now, so time to wrap this up. Aside from the hospital, I've had plenty of other wonderful experiences, with many more on the horizon.  I've met lovely people at church here, who kindly translated for me and following the service, eagerly introduced me to their tasty local cuisine and 'most eligible bachelor'! ;) I've also been 'running' (aka scrambling through dense jungle) with the amazing Hash Harriers, including Kartini,  'Pretty Woman', 'Stripper', 'German Sausage' and 'Big Fart'. I've seen leaves as big as me, trees as tall as towers, beautiful butterflies, pineapple plants and stunning sunsets. I've also swum among star fish, felt the wind in my hair on a bumpy speedboat ride, eaten lots of rice, been bitten by hungry mosquitoes, sampled the special 'Fish head curry', sprinted across motorways, wandered through markets, attended a regional emergency medicine symposium, and sung my heart out to Abba's 'Mamma Mia' at karaoke.

Tomorrow is a new day and I'm not sure what it will bring... but I'm sure happiness and new adventures await. Until next time, lots of sweaty hugs and kisses from Borneo, sweet dreams xxxx