“Water, Water, Every Where”



I live in a water-scarce country on a water-scarce continent. I grew up with a little ditty, “Kinders moenie in die water mors nie, die ou mense wil dit drink” – “Children, don’t mess with water, the old people want to drink it”. Parts of my country has had water restrictions in the years that I have lived.

And yet, I have never really wanted for water. When I open a tap, there it is. Cold and ready to drink, albeit chlorinated. Cape Town has some of the cleanest drinking water in the world. I could run through sprinklers as a child. I could swim in swimming pools.

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IV Lines: You’re Doin’ It Wrong


A quick contribution to this month’s Medical Monday. I am in the last week of Family Medicine and trying to finish of the mass of projects we have to present this week. Additionally I have just realised that my first set of exams (the B.Ch-part, a.k.a. Surgery) is in two months. I am not feeling prepared for that and will definitely need to focus more intently on studying.

Anyway, here is an incident that made me laugh. The rural hospital where I am working is relatively small and sometimes, patients sleep over at Outpatients’ Department while awaiting a bed. We start their treatment in the meanwhile, run tests and set up IV-infusions. The next morning, OPD essentially as its own “ward round”.

We were scratching our heads as to why a certain patient had not received her treatment overnight. Then we saw her IV line.


(As you can see, that IV isn’t going anywhere but down the drain.) As we are fairly certain that no nurse or doctor would have done this, the only conclusion we could reach was that the IV came out and the patient or a relative tried to “put it back.”

Regardless, we had a good laugh. This has got to be even funnier than when this happened.

On ComServe, and the Desroches Case


My friends and I have this joke among ourselves. We say that medical school is like slavery. But then we say, it’s actually WORSE than slavery, because we PAY to work ridiculous hours in ridiculous conditions. As you can see it’s kind of more of a tragedy, but we’ve chosen to make it a joke. For our sanity’s sake.

So in light of that you might be surprised to find that my overwhelming feeling towards the Miguel Desroches case is not a good one.

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Mobile Update: Weekend Trips


One of the awesome things about rural rotations is the opportunity to explore the surrounds. This weekend we went to quite a few surrounding villages (and today we hiked for the better part of the day and my muscles are cursing me).

This is a photo I took on the way. I really hope it looks half as good on your computer screen as it does on this phone!

Isn’t it wonderful? I spoke to someone who has been at the hospital here for many years about how awesome the vibe here is.

He said that it is because the place attracts “missionaries, maniacs and misfits.” Hah!

Lunch Posts: Lunch at Rural Hospital


The food trolley with the squeaky wheel arrives in the Outpatients’ Department. It is laden with with warm cling-wrapped food. Rice, pumpkin, beans, and on a good day, some meat.

Surreptitiously a lull descends over OPD. You know you are really hungry when hospital food looks appetising.

Doctors conclude their current consultations and walk to their homes, scattered around the hospital grounds.

Taxi drivers at the rank – right next to the hospital – lean back in their seats, drawing peak caps over their eyes. Goats continue their conquest of the hospital grass. Geese hiss at passersby. Babies suckle noisily while their mothers stretch out on a patch of grass outside the hospital. Women with makeshift stalls sell snacks and cheap cooldrinks.

The woman who lives in the caravan across from the hospital starts up her gas fire. The child on her back waves at me, as he always does.

It is an infernally hot day. In the quiet, the community readies itself for the second half.

Linking up with The Daily Post’s weekly writing challenge.

Mobile Update: Rural Enough?


This was waiting at the entrance to our compound after lunch today. When I opened the gate to return to hospital, she ran inside, and I had to herd her back out.

Note to self: don’t wear new shoes to the first day of work. Even if they are orthotics.

Sort-Of Hiatus


I am leaving today to a rural hospital where I will be completing five weeks of Family Medicine. I expect to learn a lot, but I also anticipate little to no internet access.

I have a some posts scheduled, so I’ll still be sort-of around. I will also be able to update the blog via my (very broken and unstable) cell phone. So, I’ll be around but also not all that around.

Please send positive thoughts. I will be going without a clinical partner, so making friends and adjusting are also active concerns. It feels kind of like I’m starting a new job.

I’ll see you guys soon!


Me, at a touristy spot near the hospital where I will be.

[Guest] Elective Extravaganza: Rural Psychiatry in Kimberley and Lobatse


Kopano N. Mokale has just completed his fourth year of medical school at a South African university. He did his fourth year elective in Rural Psychiatry, something I thought was very brave and super interesting. I trust you will enjoy his story. As always, let me know if you’d like to share your Elective story.

Stark white straitjackets, padded-cells and distant indistinguishable shouts and yelps…  murmurs and mumbles from deranged minds, far detached from space-time as we understand it…. men in white coats and unrealistically beautiful nurses with little “kappies” on their heads…  sorry  my friends, only in Hollywood.

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