Sorry for the delay in getting another one of these posted, as you will see things are busy as usual but here is briefly what has been going on over here in Cameroon during the past month or so…
-Vaccination Campaign- A week sponsored by the Cameroonian government saw us setting out on moto’s with coolers filled with vaccines against Polio, Tetanus, Hepatitis B,Measles and Yellow Fever into the surrounding areas attempting to vaccinate all women and children. Setting up camp under a tree and sitting on a stump, we created an assembly line as the children lined up with smiles and laughter and walked away in tears. (December 8-14)
-Allison vs. Malaria Round 2- Nothing too severe like the patients we see daily in the hospital, but let me tell you, Malaria is quite the kick in the pants. I was pretty miserable in bed with a headache that wouldn’t stop and a fever for 4 days and it was bittersweet when the malaria symptoms morphed themselves into a rockin Sinus Infection that lasted for another 10 days. (Dec 12-16)
-Change of Inhabitance- I am officially out of Chez Medecin and am living in a house that is three times too big for the three of us SM’s. We have a kitchen which we are slowly getting into working order, a bathroom with running water and in comparison to a normal home here in Koza, we are living in a mansion. It is fun to be in our own home though and we look forward to being able to cook for our friends and enjoy having visitors over whenever we wish. But keeping the house clean and dust-free is quite the task and thankfully the burden is greatly lifted by the help of four local boys who love to come over when the music is blaring and help us clean for the small price of a coke from the market and some pocket change. (December 18)
-Becoming a Lab Rat- When one of the hospital’s two lab tech’s notified administration that she would be leaving Koza around the first of the year I was asked to cover for her until a permanent government replacement was found. Thus, for the past few weeks I have been learning the tricks of lab-trade and have this week, as she has now officially left, taken over her rotation of working in the lab. Therefore I spend my days poking patients of all ages to test for malaria, drawing blood for typhoid, looking at urine samples for leukocytes, stool samples for worms and amoebas, sputum for tuberculosis, spinal fluid for meningitis, and doing pelvic exams to test for STD’s. Lab work isn’t really what I would call my forte but I figure that with how long I am here for it is good to try my hands at everything and learn as much as I can. Plus, I’ll admit that there is a small part of me that enjoys seeing the many years of Chemistry and Biology Lab’s come in useful. But even though this is technically my new ‘job’ I still get to see lots of the inside of the OR which is good, because that is what I continue to enjoy the most. (December 17- Current)
-Christmas- This was my first Holiday season spent without my family and I am not even going to try to pretend that it wasn’t hard because it was. With a family as awesome as mine you take every excuse available to spend three nonstop weeks with those crazies. However, spending Christmas here, alone, where the presents I receive daily are wisdom, appreciation, perspective and generosity are proving to be the most valuable presents I have ever received and have made this Christmas invaluable. I more now than ever can say that my eyes have been opened to how much more pleasure one receives from giving rather than getting and I would gladly spend every holiday alone if it meant seeing the smiles that simple things like pencils, barrettes and candy canes can produce, over and over again.
-2009- New Year’s Evewas spent across the street at the Hospital Administrators house with the entire staff of the hospital where we ate, we drank, we danced, we were merry until the wee hours of the morning. New Year’s Day came a bit too quickly however, after a few short hours of sleeping when we were awakened by singing children and banging pots… Cameroon’s answer to the American Trick or treat. Groups of children go door to door singing “Bonne Annee” (Happy New Year) a bit too loud for that early in the morning and refuse to quiet down until you have given them candy. A cute tradition that maybe isn’t as appreciated as much as it should have been.
-The Cold- Within the past couple of weeks we have welcomed winds from the Sahara which blow in every year for a few months and cover the area with a thick cloud of dust which can almost be mistaken for fog and which thankfully lowers the temperature significantly. Nights and mornings are actually cold… cold enough for a light jacket at least, the days are bearable and we are spoiled with cool temperatures before The Heat, with it’s daunting reputation, arrives in March.
Well that’s what is new here in a nut shell. Hope that all of you are enjoying the New Year and have had a wonderful Holiday season. Much love - Allison