Friday, July 15, 2011

What did I learn today?

Today marks the end of two weeks of my CPE course - one week to go. It has been a less stressful week - no more headaches (except from my dose of 'flu'). I am enjoying it. For some reason the thing that strikes me most is the 'normality' of the environment. I think it might be something to do with the confidence and competence of the supervisors. I like it and I am comfortable.
We were moved to new wards in the middle of the week, so it has been goodbye surgical and hello oncology (I think, in the main). There were only three patients in my wards today. And someone who had passed away. It was my first experience of seeing something that had been a patient wrapped up in plastic and ready to be taken away. I am not feeling anything about it . . . yet.
I was speaking to one of the patients who revealed that she had HIV and had been admitted because her CD4 count was so low. I asked her what is was. 50. That is very low - I wondered if I should be within twenty metres of her with my residual flu. I didn't get close and I didn't stay long!
The other patient I spoke to was a man who spoke only Zulu. I had my longest Zulu conversation so far. I realised, what should be blatantly obvious - that people who are Zulu-speaking speak more easily in Zulu. When I speak to Zulu patients who are able to speak in English the conversation tends to be question and answer with answers as short as possible. When I speak in Zulu, even though they know I can't understand, the flow of speech comes. If I was to be doing this more it would definitely be worth gaining a useful Zulu vocabulary in this area.
I wonder where I will be next year? Will Zulu be a useful part of my toolkit?

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