Leap Year


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 updates begin!

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 mental exercise.

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 mentioned it.

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 wisely!

"As you get older, it isn't so much death that you fear but the failure to live."


Leap Day 1

Leap Day 2

Leap Day 3

Leap Day 4

Leap Day 5


Posted at 08:05


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