Monday, 12 July 2010

Thank you to all those who donated - especially those I do not know

I would like to thank everyone who has donated via the justgiving site to VSO. I am quite overwhelmed - especially as I do not know many of you. There have been so many it is not possible to send a personal reply - but I have read each and every comment and good wish. Thank you on behalf of the women in Sierra Leone.

Death of the Antenatal Sister in childbirth - today

Last week I went with Jenny Hardy - a freelance photographer who took photos of the Makeni Maternity Government Hospital that I have previously written about in my blog.
During the visit we met the Antenatal Sister of the Makeni Government Maternity Department. I have worked with her on previous occasions as many of the student midwives where placed there.
The Antenatal Sister, when I met her last week was about 40 weeks pregnant and expecting her third baby.
I asked her if she was still working in her Antenatal clinic as she was near term (40 weeks pregnant) she told me that she had only come to the maternity department to see how the staff all were.
I touched her belly and wished her well with her birth that was only going to be a few days away. She looked healthy and had grown a good sized baby - not too big or too small - just right. She was wearing a beautiful purple Gara cloth dress and looked radiant. She told me that she was looking forward to having her third child and we spoke about things like childcare and returning to work following the birth of her child.
Today the Sister of the Antenatal clinic of Makeni Maternity Hospital died in childbirth at her own Maternity Unit. I do not have any details - the baby - a much wanted little girl survived.
This was a very good midwife - she will be missed by her family, student midwives, colleagues, mothers and babies and all those who came into contact with her.
Sadly she was that 1 in 8 that did not survive childbirth in Sierra Leone.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

A couple of links to follow

Many thanks to Jenny Hardy who I met in Makeni - she is a freelance photographer. Some of her photos were used in the recent BBC on line news article.
More updates soon

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Looking after a new colleague who got Malaria

A new recruit joined my house recently. Something I had been looking forward to for a while as I had been living on my own since I came to Makeni. So I went to Freetown (a less adventurous journey - see previous blog) to catch up on the rest of my In Country Training and meet my new housemate.
We had a pretty good time in Freetown as I joined with the June group - although I arrived at the end of April - I belong to this cohort.
As a group we toured around Freetown, went to many beaches, ate and drank in several bars and met lots of new people before heading back up north east - or up country as it is described here to Makeni.
My new housemate and I arrived at our house on Tuesday - she had a cough as did some of the other new recruits. She was too unwell to come to work on the Wednesday with me and did not appear to be getting better.
The thoughts of flying, air conditioning, meeting new people and all the bugs that are around it would be reasonable to think that within the first week this was a nasty flu or cold.
We got news that one of the recruits contracted Typhoid and was hospitalised. My new housemate had similar signs and symptoms so we went to a local charitable hospital and got her tested for typhoid and malaria. Both came back negative. But the cocktail of drugs was something I had never experienced before; antibiotics - 1 gram doses, vitamins as the haemoglobin was 11 and would only go down over here due to the lack of red meat. Folic acid!!! all wrapped in little plastic bags with no name or what the drugs contained let alone a sheet to read up on with side effects.
My new housemate spent the night in my bed - just as well as I was beginning to feel concerned. She took the antibiotics as she had a nasty productive cough. Her temperature was high - 38.8C axilla - and not at all well. I returned home at lunch time (I had been doing this sice she arrived) and was not convinced that this was just a touch of flu.
We requested a second opinion at another charitable hospital and the diagnosis of malaria was made. Her haemaglobin remarkably rose to 12.5 overnight!!!! I felt relieved as I felt at least we knew what was going on. The antimalarial treatment was given (it is a 3 day course of tablets) and off we went home.
The antimalarial treatment is sometimes said to be worse than the malaria. My housemate was quite unwell but with some periods when she felt much better. Things were improving. After the last dose of antimalarials and 3 days of very strong antibiotics my housemate was looking better and beginning to eat and drink much more.
My housemate was feeling so much better that she started her volunteering work this Monday.
We since heard that another of the June cohort contracted typhoid too, but was not hospitalised unlike the the first colleague.
It is quite challenging looking after someone you do not know who is clearly very unwell without a diagnosis in a country with generally poor health facilities. We were fortunate that the charitable hospital where the diagnosis was made ran along european lines - so the care and management did not seem quite as alien as it might have been. It is one thing to visit hospitals in a professional capacity but quite another to have to use the services.
My housemate is now fully recovered, fit and well and has started her volunteering placement.