March 16, 2007

Mosquitoes for extermination!!!

Hello my beauties!
So, since my last blog the mozzies have reached new levels of evilness and bitten the only place left to bite…the sole of my foot!How low is that?!So have taken to wearing long pj bottoms tucked into socks, yet they still get me through the goddam material!Unbelievable!

You’ll be pleased/relieved to know that I have actually spent a significant amount of time in hospital this week – a whole 4 mornings and 1 afternoon. We’ve been very studious. Decided to give up on the obs and gynae as a)we didn’t know anything b)there were no immenent labours and c) quite frankly, no one seemed to like us ‘palangies (colloquial for white foreigner)’ very much. So we sloped off to the general medical ward and instantly felt at home!We understood what was going on, could answer questions confidently, and more importantly, answer them correctly (!) and the doctors were lovely. We’ve seen some amazing sites, that I won’t go into in detail, for the sake of Mikeys’ stomach! Suffice it to say that because people not only have to pay for their care, and tend to consult the Fofo (village healer) before they seek medical attention, they present with signs and symptoms that are very advanced and therefore hardly ever seen in the UK. There are unfortunately an unbelievable number of very young Samoans, ie 15-20 year olds who contract a heart infection called rheumatic fever and get lost to follow up or don’t finish their course of treatment and end up with heart failure aged 20. Heart failure is bad news – and the youngest person Ive ever seen with it in the UK was 54. Also, repeat chest infections and, again, loss to follow up and cessation of treatment due to cost, has resulted in lots of young peolpe developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other lung problems. It’s very sad. The patients are lovely – even in the midst of their lowest, illest moments, they still manage to say hello and give us medical students a radiant smile.
The only thing ‘intensive’ about the intensive care unit is the air conditioning. There is one ECG machine (heart monitor) to serve the whole 240 bed hospital and they do not have a CT scanner, therefore, if you have a stoke, basically, you’re buggered. This is not good as a vast majority of Samoans are diabetic, obese and have sky high blood pressures i.e. strokes are on the cards for a fair number of them! Mum, the lowest blood sugar I’ve seen so far is 17! That is deemed as good and stable here! Despite the undercurrent of poverty, the Drs do a great job and I have really enjoyed being attached to their firm this week.

Forgot to mention when I wrote last Sunday, a few of us went to church, as we had been assured that it was a must, if only to hear the singing. So we rocked up for the 9am service and got some seats at the back. Most of the congregation were in white; the girls looked like little brides and there were some fabulous hats on show. Just as the service was about to start a HUUUGGGEE Samoan gentleman of about 55 came and sat next to me. He had the most beautiful bass voice which reverberated the whole pew when he sang. He gave me a hymn sheet for the first hymn. This was all good as it had the music written at the top, although the text was all Samoan. However, he substituted the sheet with a hymn book, which had no music, for the rest of the service and told me to ‘SING UP!”. This proved to be quite difficult when I didn’t know the tune or the language! Ah well, I had a go! The sermon was all in Samoan, but at the end the reverend noted our presence and gave a short synopsis. We were greeted by many of the congregation on the way out, who were delighted to learn that we were English as John Williams’ bones (the first English missionary to introduce Christianity to Samoa) were buried at the entrance to their church.

We ventured into town on Monday afternoon and found the most fabulous fabric for sarongs. I also plan to have a few skirts made – it costs about 5 pounds!Bargain-tastic!
Today is Thursday – officially the end of the working (!) week! Dave, Gwen (our friend from Warwick med school out here on elective aswell) and I are all off to Virgin Cove again tomorrow and we’re staying over in one of the beach fales. Some serious tanning is going down this weekend. We’ve already planned our itinerary – it involves alternating half hour intervals of front, back, swim and suncream reapplication with an hour or so thrown in for food and toilet stops. Lovely jubley!
The rest of the week we’ve just vegged out round the pool and deck, although there have been some amazing thunder stormas and torrential rain – amazing! Worryingly, I have started to drink beer. It is called Vailima and is brewed locally and is extremely scrumptious. Soes – you would love it – Dave’s trying to work out how we could smuggle a case back to the UK – I’ll keep you posted!

Hope you are all well and happy! Some personal messages:

Mum and dad: Hello my lovelies!Am missing you very much! Hope you’re managing to keep yourself busy – sounds like Lise is helping out on that front!I can’t believe you’ve taken Minky with you!She’s too fat to fit into crevices anymore – wherever will she hide?!? Mum, how’s things on the palpitation front? Ive been worried about you but forgot to ask last time we spoke. Dad! Can’t believe you’ve got a Wii – QUALITY. I forbid you to get too good at the bowling/golf before I get back so that there will be a fair contest! Needless to say, Im sure Soes will be round for a visit soon enough!Also, we star gazed the other night and Orions’ on his back!Amazing! Love you both loads xxx

Lise: thanks for email babes. It made me smile! Glad the party went well. Am thinking about you lots and can’t seem to get the Santana ‘Maria, Maria’ song out of my head, which remonds me of you even more!Can’t wait to see you soon. Will reply to email properly asap! Send my love to Jon and the girls! Love you loads xxx

Mike: can I just say that you once again managed to make me gaffaaww out loud in the internet cafe with your email! Very embarassing! The zipper comment is now local legend! I hope you appreciated the vagueness of my descriptions of ‘amazing sites’. I know how much you hate to hear about huge festering boils and gangrenous feet, and the like, so I thought I’d save you the images! Big love to you, Jan, Sarah, James, Jamie and Edward. Love you loads xxx

Loads and loads of love to you all as always xxxxxxx

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