The first week of working in the hospital and clinic was. . . intense. Exciting. Hard. Fun. Scary. There were so many little snapshots in each day that lingered after I went home. I missed medicine, and this was all the medicine I could handle.
Intense. When I was sitting in Radiology, reading films to help the emergency department triage patients just in from a mass casualty when a truck full of people rolled. Scanning for fractures, praying I didn’t miss a broken spine. Thank God, everyone survived.
Exciting. When I was back on a medical team, learning and working together again in medicine, which felt familiar even in an entirely new context.
Hard. When there were so many patients to see, I knew I had to prioritize the sickest and trust the team to watch over the ones I couldn’t spend much time with. When I had to watch patients go without tests or treatments they couldn’t afford.
Fun. When I could see things I had read about, but never treated before. When I could actually have a (short) conversation in Swahili. When it became very real to be here, practicing in Africa, after a long road of preparation and prayers.
Scary. When I was responsible for treating people very ill with things out of my experience, learning on the job as quickly as possible to make sure we were doing everything we could for them. Realizing that some days fungal brain infections are more common in the hospital than strokes. Realizing the patient in front of me in clinic probably has cancer and no treatment options. Realizing that the patient on oxygen would have to go home without it, because she had no money.
Thankful. When I realize it’s finally time to learn, medically and spiritually, from this phase of our lives, and trust God with myself and the patients. I’m thankful to be here, and be learning. I’m thankful for the teachers I’ve had who helped me prepare for this. I’m thankful for all the prayers and encouraging words I brought with me. I’m thankful for colleagues who graciously teach me the ropes. I’m thankful for a day to rest and take a breath before diving back in.