Hey everyone! Sorry this update is coming kind of late, we have had a very difficult time getting internet set up. It got so bad that people were starting to request we not come near their electronic devices out of worry that we might curse those, too.
Now that we've been here at Zimba Mission Hospital in southern Zambia for a week, we are getting pretty settled in. We've come for a month to do medicine, OB, surgery, and everything in between. We're primarily working with and under two American doctors, Dan & Joan Jones (another physician couple). More on them and the hospital here: http://zimbamission.org
Ben started on maternity service, and I've been primarily in the adult medicine wards. We also both help out in the outpatient dept. when we are able. Ben has delivered about a dozen babies here and done 2 Cesarean sections with Dan, and has been the one in charge of some pretty sick mamas and babies. I think the deliveries he's done might also count for more than one delivery at home - there have already been some very high stress times for him, but he's gaining experience that you can't get at home and helping women in scary times.
In the wards, I'm caring for patients with everything from severe anemia (Hb 3.4, for those medical people among you) to CHF exacerbations to pulmonary TB to kidney failure to AIDS. The HIV rate here is very high, so I am starting to get good at the complicated medicine that surrounds HIV medicines and the opportunistic diseases that accompany it. The lack of diagnostics here is pretty challenging - Xray is the only imaging on site, and the few labs that are available always seem to be out of reagents. My physical exam is definitely improving as I rely on it more to figure out what's going on with patients. There have been some successes, some procedures (lots of paracenteses!), and sadly, a death. But like Ben, I'm learning a lot and seeing things that I don't at home.
Outside of the hospital, we have done some running (though the humidity and more altitude than we're used to are making it harder) and went on an awesome bike ride on Sunday. We rode over dusty, pothole-ridden gravel roads and saw the beautiful countryside with little villages with mud huts, chicken families, and fields of corn. It's rainy season so there are heavy rains most days, but temperatures are usually in the 80s during the day and 60s at night, so we're not complaining. We're living in a big, shared house on the mission compound and eat mostly American food that is cooked for us, but have gotten to try Zambian food. The conclusion: very similar to Malian, except more sardines.
That's all for now! I promise to take some pictures and try to get them uploaded... although with our luck lately, it could be awhile!
Love you and miss you all!
Mariel & Ben