Turns out I've gotten even worse at updating my blog. Good
thing it's a leap year so I get an extra day, right? Let the
Last time I checked in was 2/16. So let's start with 2/17.
Another lovely day in Eldoret, highlighted mostly by a really cool
fireside chat and discussion about the 2007-08 post-election
violence. If you have not gathered from my previous posts, I find
Joe Mamlin to be a fascinating man and could listen to him tell
stories for days on end. Joe, his wife Sarah Ellen and Francis, one
of the many Kenyans closely tied to IU House, told their stories
and talked about the implications of tribalism in Kenya. Despite
the central theme of the discussion, I think it's safe to say we
all left House 1, the home of Fireside Chat, with a lot of hope for
the future of this country and the relations of its people going
forward. Sitting around talking about difficult social issues and
asking probing questions is not something we often do in medicine
(at least in the US). I have come to relish Wednesday evenings at
IU House- not only because Wednesday means catered food from some
fantastic Eldoret restaurants- but because it gives us a chance to
think about things we don't often confront. It's a refreshing
Last weekend, 2/19-21, was really boring. A group of 13 of
us- five IU students and two residents, two Brown students, three
Toronto students and one Georgetown resident- set out on Friday
afternoon for Lake Naivasha, about three hours south of Eldoret. On
Saturday we hiked up to and around the rim of Mount Longonot, a
volcanic crater near the lake. The hike was roughly 10k and a bit
more challenging than our guides told us ahead of time, but also
incredible. One poor woman (from another party) sprained her ankle
on the way down. Lucky for her, there were 12 doctors/soon-to-be
doctors with first-aid kits in their backpacks (not me
specifically- I'm not that responsible) immediately behind her who
gave her a cooling pack and ibuprofen, then quickly orchestrated a
mad dash to the cars below for an Ace bandage and helped carry her
down to meet a vehicle driving up.
In the afternoon we took a pleasant and relaxing
boat ride across Lake Naivasha to Crescent Island, which you may
know as the set of the movie Out of Africa, a
tortuously long film about Meryl Streep falling in love with Robert
Redford and getting syphilis. Despite Meryl's STD history, the
island is quite remarkable. It is home to hippos, zebras, giraffes,
antelopes, waterbucks, numerous birds, and lots of other species
that roam around freely. Humans too are encouraged to walk amongst
the animals, as we did.
On Sunday we went to Hell's Gate National Park and rode
bikes (look out- warthogs crossing the road!) to a gorge that we
then hiked into. Apparently "the real pride rock" from Lion King is
somewhere near this area but I'm still confused as to how people
keep assigning the term "real" to a cartoon.
So anyway, super boring weekend. Don't know why I
Last week was pretty interesting on the wards because of
exam week for the students. In the US, we occasionally have
practical clinical skills exams where we examine fake patients who
are just actors with no real complaints or physical findings. We
basically pretend to do the physical exam and are told what one
would find if this patient truly had X and use our gathered history
and physical to proceed. Here at MTRH, the entire ward is available
for testing. So when I showed up to round on Thursday, half our
patients were hurriedly being examined by anxious fourth years,
nervously listening intently to heart sounds that would actually be
test material. The student then presents his/her patient to two
attendings ("consultants") who proceed to grill the student until
he/she gets a question incorrect. It's basically oral board exams
and a clinical skills assessment in one. My sixth year colleagues,
Dennis and Sheila, shared with me their respective exam horror
stories from their fourth year while we were on call one night and
I vowed then and there to never complain about an American medical
exam again. Dennis' surgery exam ended when one particularly picky
surgeon asked him what the dimensions of a full bladder are (for
the record, I'm pretty sure that isn't a real fact. If it is,
Dennis still does not know the correct answer).
Once again, Fireside Chat was a fantastic night. Last
week's discussion was a special edition "Humanities Night," which
happens biannually, usually in conjunction with a visit from Dr.
Peter Kussin, an intensivist from Duke who is one of the more
interesting people I've ever met. Humanities Night is a Dr.
Kussin-driven effort to delve into our non-medical skills and show
off some of our more creative endeavors. We have an amazingly
talented group of musicians, poets, writers, artists and thinkers
here. Again, wildly refreshing.
After witnessing a week of exam mayhem (which is
exhausting enough to watch- I can only imagine participating) we
spent Saturday at a retreat center in the Kakamega rainforest,
about two hours from Eldoret. It was an amazing setting. Highlight
of the weekend was the sunrise hike we did Sunday morning and being
able to watch the sun come up from a hilltop high above the rest of
the rainforest. Can't really ask for much more.
Today we all switched to our new rotations. I have moved
on to pediatrics (the land of small patients who can't tell you
what's bothering them). We have said goodbye to fellow IU student
Adam, as well as the two Brown students, but will be gaining
another IU student, two more from Brown and a few more from Mt.
Sinai by the end of the week.
Not much else to report. I hope you used your leap day
"As you get older, it isn't so much death that you fear
but the failure to live."