After my Doha stopover I did eventually arrive in Yangon. A day late. Without my suitcase which I hadn’t seen since Heathrow. I was tired, hot, fed up. I had to get Mum to ring Bangkok Airways in Thailand to sort it out. Ned arrived the next day – before my bag did!!
Anyway, those niggles over, I met Kat who’s been doing what I’ll be doing for the last 6 months. I went to clinic with her on Thursday, the Shwe Pyi Thar (SPT) clinic. The other clinic I’ll be going to is in Hlaingtharya (HT).
I sat in with one of the doctors in the morning. About 20% of their patients are HIV+. The general patients I’ve seen so far come in with a variety of GP type ailments eg diarrhoea, LRTI, skin problems, etc. Loads of TB. Everyone weighs half of me. I’ve also seen some great signs. Some grim things too.
Of course things are vastly different – ART used, monitoring, tests available, counselling. The doctors ask me advice on quite a few gen med things which I’ve had to look up. Feeling a bit more like a proper doctor again, ha ha. After Thingyan (see below) I’ll be starting more formal training and teaching of the doctors, protocol review and more.
As for where we are staying, it’s in a good location close to many shops, restaurants, a good fruit and veg market. The flat is small and basic but bigger than I expected. Kitchen has two gas hobs and a big fridge, there’s a living area with some storage. It’s about 15 minutes walk to Shwedagon Pagoda. We walked there as the sun was setting at the weekend and will probably actually go into the grounds around Thingyan, the Buddhist New Year, starting this weekend. Apparently it gets a bit intense in Yangon – big stages get erected around the city with various entertainment and dancing and drinking – sounds good – but then add the roads being blocked and the drenching of passers by with buckets of water, water pistols and fire hoses. Apparently gets a bit wearing. We did think about making a trip to the beach for some of it but then we realised we were too late unless we wanted to spend a huge amount of money. Thus, will enjoy the festivities for some of the time, then relax, watch DVDs and write some presentations for the rest of it in the flat. Ned actually will be going to his work a bit as he’s sort of like Consultant on call (!).
In the first weekend we met up with Thura, my old family friend who’s working here, which was hilarious and good fun. We also met up with MiMi’s niece, Su, and her boyfriend Jacob, and ate noodles, also was lovely to see them. We have a couple more friends of friends to meet too.
…Only thing that had been a bit bleugh was the air conditioning unit not working in the flat. I think I’m pretty resilient at living in basic conditions having done so before eg In Cambodia I lived without electricity for a while so didn’t have even a fan in baking temperatures. This was somehow worse as I think it’s actually hotter in the flat than outside (it’s surrounded by blocks of flats either side) and the bedroom has glass walls so a conservatory effect (“I’m in a glass case of emotion!”) It was 32 degrees in here at night and was becoming a real struggle. I know that sounds really lame when others have it so much worse. Fortunately we have a new air conditioner and it felt amazing to finally be able to get a night of sleep.
We have been enjoying the fruit and food, though been fairly good at cooking in the flat. All the doctors are lovely. Ned’s having a good time at Parami hospital and even has an office!! He is doing some teaching planning for developing their Emergency Dept and ITU (3 bedded, apparently someone was admitted there with hyperventilation…). Overall feeling very excited about the opportunities we have here.
Photos to follow. Yes. We went out for pizza. Some of the doctors wanted to try it… Brand new opening.