Resident Experience by Jon Bailey:
My alarm goes off before the Amitie Atmosphere Bar (formerly Guma Guma) closes at 6am, so as I peel the silicone ear plugs out, the music come pouring in. I slept well considering the dip in the mattress and the heat. In the kitchen, I start toasting bread in the frying pan while I wait for the kettle to boil for my bucket bath. The water is still somewhat cool as I pour it over my head, which is good since it will make the walk to the bus stop in my dress clothes a little less sticky. I pile on to the bus with 30 of my new closest friends who have apparently never hear of cueing in line. We weave through a cloud of pedestrians and motos, while I clutch my travel mug of coffee. I try to drink stealthily since Rwandans don’t drink or eat on the street. After arriving at CHUK, I help the resident set up the room while discussing the multiple deaths that occurred over night. The monitor is broken: the blood pressure working sometimes, ECG never, and the pulse oximeter has been replaced by the mobile Lifebox. By the way, the hospital has a “stock out” of suxamethonium and IV morphine. I guess we’ll use cisatricurium for our rapid sequence inductions today and hope for the best.
I’m tempted to complain about some of this. To be honest, I’m tempted to tell people about this to show how tough I am. Then I remember that our Rwandan colleagues do this every day. I remember that they do it with very little pay, with few holidays – and I remember what they’ve already lived through. I remember our Serena passes, the weekend getaways, the dinners out on the town. I remember that we’re only here for one month, and that I’m going back to a well-resourced hospital with anesthesia techs who set everything up for us, extremely competent anesthesia assistants who give us regular breaks, and staff who have spent years of their life practicing to be effective teachers. The Rwandan staff and residents don’t have that – and yet, they greet us with huge smiles, with gratitude and optimism. They work tirelessly to provide care and, where they can, improve their system. They don’t complain, or brag; only occasionally acknowledging that “it’s tough”.
This kind of experience will, no doubt, make me appreciate what we have – for a while. It seems that this kind of grass-is-browner experience has a fleeting effect on my world view. I think that’s why, for our own sake, we need to keep coming back.