Saturday, 15 October 2011

Elective 01. The Journey

I leave for Tanzania today. 6 weeks on my own, hoping that I have not forgotten all of the Medicine that l (Should have) learnt by taking this year out to intercalate. I am so excited, I am not ashamed to admit that I have butterflies when I think about the idea.

Excited and nervous. This is going to be very very different, which I want, one of the main reasons for choosing Tanzania and this hospital. Different is good for experience, excitement and stories, but it is also going to be very different to anything I have tried before (obviously). This is scary in itself. I know very little about the strange diseases I may be coming across, even less about providing medical treatment in such a resource poor setting, and even less (if this is possible) swahili. Enough worry and wondering though.

I have decided to take with me, as well as the IHPUK drug pack, a load of my old stationary. I don't use colouring/lead pencils any more, and I still have loads floating around from my school days. I put them in a bag with the idea of giving them to children who I see on the ward. Better they are used. Most are old and tatty and I can not imagine charity shops here wanting them.

Some of the pencils/pens/rubbers/sharpeners I am taking with me. Nice to think of them going to a second home and another child enjoying them rather than being thrown away or never used

Flying out of Heathrow terminal 5, I got here with hours to spare, as I wasn't sure how easy it would be to get my boxes of medications (must remember not to say drugs) through to the plane. Fortunately this wasn't hard, but the spare time did come in useful. Saying goodbye to people on the phone while travelling on a simple shuttle train between gates, I somehow missed my stop (please don't ask how, there are 2 stops, this doesn't bode well!) and headed back to where I had started. Instead of just letting me stay on the train and just go back (it is a shuttle train after all), the guard made me get off, telling me he wouldn't believe that I had 'forgotten' to get off, and I must be an arrival. Perhaps this is a compliment, saying I don't look stupid enough to do this! This meant I had to go all the way out, around, and through security and bag scanning again, quickly drinking all of the bottle of water I had just bought after passing through security the first time. At least I didn't miss my flight.

Regarding the flight, normally I tend to enjoy the in flight entertainment too much, and with night flights like this one, watch movie all night, leaving the flight very tired. Not something I want to do this time, as a doctor has been sent to meet me at the airport, as the medications (not drugs) need specific paperwork the other end which comes from the TFDA.

The start of the plane Journey was interesting, With  failures delaying the departure by about 3 hours. Apart from the grouchy Americans in one section or the plane with their wonderful complaints: "finally"; "O.M.G." and so on, the plane developed quite a community feel to it. When it was announced that they would do a 'bar round' before the take off to make up for the delay, a full cheer went up on the plane. In the end, after a good few drinks, we had to change plane. I think everyone felt safer about this, rather than flying on a plane that had developed "multiple faults". Being at a different set of gates meant another trip on the shuttle train and a third pass through security bag check (no water to try and take away from me this time, its all in my belly!). I must be one of the most secure people to fly BA today.

My plane doesn't look that broken from the outside... Whats the harm of giving it a go? What's the worst that could happen...

Anyway, after stealing a plane intended for passengers going to Tel Aviv (BA had the balls to get us to walk through their waiting area as it was announced that they would have to wait for another plane to become available for them) we flew.

After the flight left, the journey is uneventful. The onboard entertainment proves too much fun as usual, though I do manage to catch an hour or so of sleep. I am writing my blogs on a pda, and the hand writing software is still not quite up to the task of deciphering my scrawl (though this is fair enough, most humans have enough problems), so please bear with any mistakes that slip through.

In this trip I am
Most looking forward to: Very hands on medicine

Most fearful of: the Language barrier


  1. Best of luck with it all IO, I'm sure it'll be completely different to anything you've experienced in the when you get back you'll have a lot to draw on. Keep us updated!

  2. If he didn't believe you, why didn't you show him your boarding pass?

  3. Cheers Grumpy! Will be keeping you updated

    @ Anonymous - a fantastic idea... Definitely something I should have though of at the time...

  4. I'm sure this will be a good experience for you, getting thrown into the deep end as it were. Good luck and I look forward to catching up on all the posts you've written already.