Rosy Aurora. DTMH, Septermber 2018
According to some lecturers I’m middle aged. I was disappointed hearing this but it’s ok, I’ve had a good innings so far!
I was asked this week why I’m interested in global health and tropical medicine. A lot of people around me inspire me and I’m going to spend this blog writing about a few.
My mind wondered back to myself as a child, perhaps only 6 or 7 years old. I remember sitting in the back of an ambassador in India, with my skin very clearly stuck to the seat as it was so hot and there was no air conditioning. I was feeling incredibily heat exhausted in the back of the car just lying against my mother and staring out the window at the street chaos. People begging would come and knock on the window. A woman made eye contact with me as she carried an infant in arms and signalled their hunger by moving her clasped hand to her mouth. I looked at mum feeling sad about this. Mum would very often have kept some fruit or food to give the few she could along the way. I saw a child sitting in the pavement with a huge grosteque leg and asked mum what happened to him. Now at this point I should mention, my mother is a doctor too. She simply said ‘Elephantiasis’ in a very matter of fact way. Obviously, my head was thinking of elephants for much of the rest of the journey that day.
My mother inspired me to be a doctor, I heard from my grandparents and aunts and uncle how much she was respected for her hard work. She was brave and head strong in her youth. My mother was Orissa state champion for badminton too and can still stand in the middle of a court and make my brother and I run around like crazy. This lovely lady simply cares; that’s the bottomline. Role models are the fundamental basis for us to form paths of our own.
The whole faculty in the school are so inspiring (I’m writing this at risk of Prof. Solomon naming me albeit affectionately as a ‘creep’). The course is worth attending just for the anecdotes. Sometimes, I feel like I’m listening to the Bear Grylls of tropical medicine. There are some impressive bug jokes that get spontaneously spurted out, one highly enthusiastic and much adored lecturer exclaimed ‘if I was going to be a germ I’d be Gonococcus!’ As I read back a lot of my notes, I seem to write down the jokes and not the essential content, but it’s ok they are recorded so the bloopers can effectively be watched over and over again! By the way…Hugh you are a legend!
My friend Abi
So last blog I mentioned a really tragic story of Gift, a 4 year old who died of sepsis after conquering so many things. To get him life prolonging surgery, a lot of people networked with colleagues near and far. I spoke to a friend of mine, Abi Estelle. Abi went to medical school with me; she saw a lot of health inequality even in her uni days and was passionate about wanting to make a difference. At a young age, she volunteered for Mercy Ships and began training in Surgery after graduation. On one visit, whilst volunteering in Cameroon, she came across a baby (named Abel) with his heart born outside of his chest (Ectopia cordis), he needed life saving surgery.
She spoke to many people that she had met on her travels and managed to secure surgery for him in Italy. He survived for a while and then sadly also died 3 years later of Malaria. But not beaten by tragedy, Abi went on to create a charity(link is external) to help children one at a time with life saving / specialist operations. A remarkable individual has accomplished a truly wonderful service. If you’re ever stuck in a situation where an operation for a child is necessary, think of contacting them!
Parasite of the week
There were so many (TOO MANY) this week, hard to choose.
Strongyloides stercoralis facts: Meet the ‘’Usain Bolt of nematodes’’ according to Dr LaCourse (another legend, love the hat by the way!)
- It’s a geohelminth (Nematode) or thread worm transmitted from soil environments. They can live freely or become parasitic with humans.
- Adult female is 2mm long and prefer the small intestine to inhabit. Why wouldn’t you though, it’s so nutritious there!
- They cause a characteristic skin rash called larva currens cause by the larvae creeping about 10cm an hour, a highly itchy rash described as a serpiginous wheal surrounded by a flare (see photo).
- They can infact re-infect us decades after first infection.
- LSTM and the local hospital have treated prisoners of war (WW2) decades after they acquired these parasitic worms.
There are inspiring students too. Some people emit kindness and generosity of spirit and we have one amongst us, Dr. Meabh Kinsella. Meabh is a highly talented individual. She can play the fiddle like no other and has created a movement in enjoying Irish folk music in Liverpool like no other! lease try The old bank Alehouse on Thursday evenings!
But wait, she’s not the only one who can play a tune….’Let it be’ sang and played by DTMH August cohort with piano, guitars, saxophone, asarato, ming vase percussion (it may have been an urn, not sure…) and several willing volunteer singers.
My answer, by the way, to the question posed to me is that I care too. I believe Global health and wanting an equal life and education potential across the world is paramount and impacts on local health matters.