Greetings from Ethiopia! First things first, Ahmahsay guhnahloh for all of the well wishes, support and updates from home (That’s Amharic for thank you). They really liven up our nightly meetings, when it’s nice to hear from loved ones after a long days work.
An update, as I know our fans are sitting on the edge of their seats after Deb revealed the donkey naming contest. The burro was a black steed, who performed admirably in transporting our supplies to the hospital this morning. While honorable mention was given to “Old Henry” and “Lil’ Sebastian”, Devin Simonson took home the honors for dubbing him “Don Kee Hotee”. His reward? Several snacks, EmergenC, Benefiber, and shampoo from the Jupiter Hotel in Addis.
Today was our first day at the hospital in Yetebon, and what a rush to finally set to the work we’ve been preparing to do for months. Rounds started promptly at 8:30ish, after which we began our clinical work. The dental, podiatric, postop and Project Mercy teams had meaningful, and sometimes hilarious, encounters that will undoubtedly be shared in blogs to come.
In the general surgery OR, we began with what we thought would be a straight forward hernia repair, but even every day events like scrubbing into a case can get lost in translation. We did complete the case with patience, flexibility and without a hitch. We then proceeded with several incision and drainage procedures, which were of great benefit to the patients but occasionally hazardous to our staff (Sorry Jacky!). The Ethiopian nursing staff was great at providing orientation and direction, while our nurses were quick to adapt to the new environments. I also found out that it is possible to accidentally purchase coffee. During a break between cases I was slightly surprised to find a local woman in the men’s changing room, with a carafe and several cups and saucers. One of our interpreters (also a woman) asked if we would like some coffee, so we proceeded to take two cups. The local woman appeared concerned but proceeded to serve and offer sugar, and it was only after calling the interpreter back into the changing room that we learned this woman was selling coffee for 2 Birr per cup (10 cents). After much confusion we apologized for our lack of cash, and she graciously allowed us to promise to pay her Nega (tomorrow).
After a first day so loaded with new experiences and adventures, I can’t wait to see what the next 3 weeks will bring. Much love to those at home; we miss you even as we cherish the days we have here.