Well, here it is – my final blog! I can’t believe how fast 6 months went by, the month after my last update literally flew.
After returning from Entebbe, I travelled straight to Molo, a little place a couple of hours from Kenya’s 4th largest town, to stay in a convent! One of the sisters was a SAFE course candidate and I was treated to a wonderfully warm welcome, supper with the minister and sisters, joining them for morning offices the next day. A nun’s day starts at 5.30am with meditation and personal prayers, then corporate prayer and devotions before mass at 7am. I know I do a crazy job that involves very early starts on working days, but I do enjoy my day-off lie-ins!
I was very blessed to have wonderful company for New Year. Phoebe, who is the head of administration at the Kenya Society of Anaesthesiologists, has been a fantastic support during my Kenyan adventures. We took the night bus together to Mombasa on the east coast where she was staying with family for the weekend. Half way there the temperature seemed to double and the humidity in Mombasa is phenomenal. Phoebe’s family made me so very welcome and it was fantastic to see such a vibrant and bustling city with a rich history (conquered and settled by Portuguese and Muslim regimes over the years, with subsequent architecture to match). The locals took me down all the backstreets, haggling for the non-muzungu rates!
Once all of my visits had come to an end, I had visited a total of 66 hospitals and met and mentored 104 anaesthetists across Kenya. With all visits done and dusted, and trying very hard to get as much write up done as possible, I spent a final week in Nairobi after a 10 hour bus ride from the coast. I was also privileged to be able to spend three days at Kijabe, a massive American mission hospital between Nairobi and Naivasha, on the escarpment overlooking the stunning rift valley.Overlooking the Mount Longonot that David and I had climbed, it was a wonderful place to end my trip, in the
company of American anaesthesiologist Mark Newton and his wife.
They showed me amazing hospitality and gave me a tour of the incredible mission hospital which not only provides general, paediatric, cardiac and neuro surgery to a very high standard, but is also coping with a much higher influx of patients during the doctor’s strikes that have closed the vast majority of government hospitals across the country. They have a fantastic culture of education, and any visitors are expected to share and teach (although I learnt loads whilst I was there too!) I duly delivered three lectures and a day of neonatal life support coaching in small groups during my three day trip.
There is so very much to reflect on from the past 6 months, I am sure lots of it has not sunken in yet, but I did feel a very strong sense, as I climbed out of my final matatu during my last night in Nairobi before flying home, that I had been extremely blessed. I have travelled thousands of miles by public transport, visiting almost all of Kenya, meeting some extraordinary people - and without a single day of ill health!
I would like to use this opportunity to say thank you so much for journeying with me by reading the blog, which I admit has been therapeutic for me! I have now returned to burns and plastics anaesthetics for three months in Chelmsford (UK), which is incidentally where I first began my anaesthetic training. I apologise for the length of time I have been home by the time you read this -
it has been a rather busy time of moving back in, along with a quick trip to Zimbabwe to teach on the WFSA and AAGBI’s first SAFE Obstetrics training course in Zimbabwe! I have learned so much from my fellowship, and I hope that I’ve made a positive impact on SAFE course participants across Kenya.