Baby-CPR: Full Circle

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The first time I partook in a baby’s resuscitation was during my fourth year of medical school. It was a disaster: the wall-suction malfunctioned, the nursing staff were in the precarious business of changing shifts, and all algorithms flew out of the window.

I vowed optimistically that when I was a doctor, I would not let a baby die that way.

I had a lot of criticisms, which is so easy for a student to do; but I did learn from it. I learned to prepare myself mentally for any scenario where a life may need to be saved, so that I could give that life a fighting chance.

Last night it was my turn. I was called to the ward for a desaturating baby with pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP). It was my call to start bag-mask ventilation, and then to start compressions when his heart rate dropped below 60.

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Chest X-ray of a child with PCP. European Respiratory Journal. Click for link.

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The Nicest Interns: Part 2

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I just recently finished a four-month Family Medicine rotation. Our after-hours duties on Family  Medicine are as casualty officers at the Accident and Emergency Departments of two different hospitals. Because A&E has high-intensity decision making, our shifts were not allowed to be longer than twelve hours (compare: 24 hour shifts in any other department).

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This means that on any one day, four of us would be on call (two at each hospital).

It made the roster a little full and for the first time during my internship, I saw people completely missing the fact that they were on duty that day. It happened to me, too.

But sometimes it happened that a person realised too late that there was an error in the roster. Like when they were put on back-to-back calls.Or they were already out of town for the weekend without realising they were meant to be on call.

Or sometimes, as with any rotation, one of us got sick.

There was one of our colleagues who volunteered to help out not once, but TWICE.

Twice she cancelled her plans for the evening to do a call that someone else could not make. Of course, they would then do one of her calls; but all the same, she did them (and us) a huge favour.

I told her once, “You’re like the fairy-godmother of saving calls.”

She said, “I just think we should stick together more.”

Now isn’t that the attitude doctors should have? In a high-stress job where it sometimes feels like everyone from the janitor to the CEO is out to get us, shouldn’t we help each other as much as we can?

We really should.

Learning Through Fiction: Fiji in “Kalyana” [+Infographic]

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learn through fictionLast year I made an infographic for Black Dove, White Raven, and although it hardly interested as many readers as I had hoped, it was something I immensely enjoyed doing. So I am thrilled to share a new infographic, this time about Fiji and the novel I read, Kalyana by Rajni Mala Khelawan.

Spanning the early 1960s to more or less the present day, Kalyana tells the story of a young Indo-Fijian girl – her parents’ only daughter, and just a little spoiled. Continue reading

On Poverty and Health: The Obesity-Conundrum

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rich man poor man slimmer man fatEver since I started running (and enjoying it), I have been intrigued by the sociology and economics of health and fitness. It coincided with my “coming of age” in medicine, so to speak, so it has been in interesting and ongoing thought-experiment.

I want to address some pertinent falsehoods about health and fitness, and why the disenfranchised have such a hard time of it. Right now I intend to write a two-part series, but who knows.

Quick disclaimer: I would never suggest that being a student-on-a-budget is comparable in hardship to living in poverty. All the same, being a student on a partial scholarship and a heavy student loan certainly did teach me a little about struggling financially and its effects on health. Continue reading

The Nicest Interns: Part 1

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It’s so easy to complain about my daily work. Annoying patients, a system that is falling apart a little more every day, and inconsiderate or lazy doctors and nurses  <– you see?

And then there are some of my colleagues who just really make me want to be a better person – and a better doctor.

One of our intern-colleagues is well-loved for being a bundle of fun and kindness. Whatever event our hospital’s social committee organises: he’s there, and he is their biggest promoter. He introduces people to each other, and he encourages them to get out of their shell.

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Then there was that one time he walked around casualty on Easter Weekend dressed as the Easter Bunny, handing out goodies to all the interns on-call.

How nice is that?!?!?!

When he has a calm call-duty, he walks around and helps the services that are having a rougher time of it.

Written down, it may seem like he is the biggest gunner or kiss-ass. But he is just so genuine that it does not seem to get on anybody’s nerves (not even my very flammable ones).

I’m by far not a lazy or a mean intern, but when I see people like this guy, I just think: wow. I want to be like that when I grow up.

Ten Books Every Lifelong Learner Should Read

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Linking up with The Broke and The Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday. Today’s topic is “Ten books every (X) Should read.”

fa06114a227c0d6d401a3473ca949b4fI have a million-bajillion lists about books every medical student or health-professional should read; so I decided to pretend I know something and suggest books for, well, almost everyone. On Semester at Sea, we had “Lifelong Learners”. These were slightly older voyagers who had already worked and gained life experience, and who sailed with us and audited classes.

I like the concept of lifelong learning. I love the idea that you are not stuck with learning only about whatever you studied in college/university; I love the idea that you can gain knowledge about almost anything if you are inspired to do so (thank you, Google). I believe I am a life-long learner; and I believe that books are at least partially responsible for that.

The list, in no particular order: Continue reading

Product Review: Subz Reusable Sanitary Pads

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*Disclaimer: this is NOT a sponsored review. My sister and I decided to review Subz because we think it’s a cool product that could use some marketing and some constructive feedback.

About a year ago, I first heard of a product called Subz Pads. These are reusable sanitary pads, produced in South Africa. They are for sale to the general public, but also have a plan for free distribution to financially needy girls.

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed that sanitary products for women have received a lot of publicity recently, worldwide. In South Africa, the cheapest sanitary pads work out to about ZAR1.40 per pad, and can reach as high as ZAR4.00. In March this year, New York revealed that the city would launch a pilot product to provide free sanitary products to girls. Continue reading