Shalini’s Guyana Blog – Week 3

Work week 3 – August 18, 2018

Another week has gone by. Things have not been smooth, to say the least. There are so many things that are not right, in so many ways.

Patient communication is such an issue here. It is not considered important to inform the patient about his/her progress, the reason for surgery or its cancellation or results of surgery, let alone anyone from his/her family. The mother of a child who underwent surgery a few hours ago asked me what surgery was done and who did it. I cannot imagine this in the world where I work. It takes such little time and does not cost anything so I cannot understand why it is not done.

While the inside of my head was buzzing with thoughts and opinions that wanted to get out regarding this, the local newspaper published a letter to the editor about poor communication from Guyanese physicians. The writer writes about the play of the power struggle between patients and doctors with patients who have moved to the 21st century of health care delivery and doctors who are stuck in the 20th century with the view that they are the bosses and should not be questioned. He mentions poor communication as an endemic disease that is prevalent here. You may need to cut and paste the link.

All is not bad in the health care here. Whatever drugs are available, they are free for the patient. Perhaps, the west needs to look at this!

Timeless Sunday! – August 19, 2018

Today was a timeless Sunday. We visited a place where time has stood still and seems to have no meaning. There are no clocks, no supplied electricity and no locks at the wonderful 20-acre oasis of the winemaker Warren and his artist wife Tracy.

The place is called PANDAMA, named after the Pandama palms that grow wild here. Actually, everything grows wild at the retreat and nothing is planted. Water is from a nearby creek, the lights are solar and the only fan is the breeze from the forest. The two Macaws have to be kept in the cage because of the ‘Wild-woman’ (the residential cat who has a month old un-named kitten). The other residents include Onynx, Moonlight and Spice (all dogs). Warren (an ex-US Navy veteran) makes fruit wines and I tasted beautiful whites and reds made from starfruit, soursop, rose, lime, cherry and jamoon. Jamoon is an Indian berry that brought back childhood memories of stained black lips and tongue giving our (my sister and me) secret away that we had eaten it despite being told not to. This fruit also grows in Guyana and its botanical name is Syzygium cumini (thanks to my botanist mom who taught me to look for the botanical name of each plant/tree as it did not change whichever country one lived in). The pièce de résistance was the pineapple wine with a dash of the hot pepper wine! I ended up buying both.

We had heard a lot about the black creek that is on the property. I had gone there with the firm idea that come what may, I was not getting in the black water. Period. Beth, on the other hand, is an adventurous sort and supported by Kristen, went right in! Finally, I could not see them enjoying so much so had to get in. It was totally not what I had expected. The water was cool, clean and coffee coloured due to the tannins from the leaves and finally, Tajh (the other OB/gyn resident) also had to give in! We spent a long time in the creek and once we got out, the dogs too came in to cool off.

We returned to Project Dawn, pleasantly tired, relaxed and happy. Was this the effect of the creek water? Tracy had mentioned that it makes one young and allows the soul to breathe. Will time be the augur???

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