Friday, September 30, 2016

Luganda Diary: September 29, 2016

It's 5:05am, my stomach is growling uncontrollably now that I've been awake for the last 2.5 hours.  I still haven't adjusted to the different time zone. I have been awake every night between for a least an hour or two 2-4am. It's making for longer days due to fatigue. 

As I lay in bed, I hear the pouring rain for the 3rd or 4th time in the last few hours.  It's relaxing and comforting and I wish it would lull me to sleep.  Instead I'm here trying to decide what was the most interesting or intriguing cases or events of the day. 

There was a woman suffering from HIV and TB, severely wasted, constipated and in excruciating pain. I couldn't bear to look at her suffering too long. The thing that made it so heartbreaking was watching her mother loving tend to her throughout her hospital stay. She comforts, bathed, feeds, and keeps her company. The families take care of the patients. There are no nursing assistants or orderlies handling some of the day to day patient care tasks like we're used to in the USA. The families bring in bed linens, food, drinking water, medication and whatever else the patients need. They also bring a sleeping mat and arrange it on the floor beside the patients bed during the day & night to be available if needed. 

There was another woman complaining of jaw/neck pain due to a mass that appeared to be a cyst or abscess right behind and below her ear. The doctor aspirated and got fluid from the mass. The more striking thing about this woman was that she was one month into recovery after her husband came to her parents house and attempted to kill her. He chopped off her left arm below the elbow, her right thumb, and slashed her face in at least 2 different places. We're not quite sure of the backstory as to why he did such a thing but she said the villagers caught him and killed him in retaliation for trying to kill her. Her scars around the amputations and face are healing well but the emotional wounds are still very raw. 

In stark contrast from the patient encounters, we spent some time in the lab learning more about malaria, filariasis, and sickle cell. We had the opportunity to speak to the techs, learn how they prepare the samples and viewed microscope slides containing the various parasites and sickled blood cells. 

Last night we also had our first official Luganda Language Lesson from the ACCESS Librarian, Irene. She is a great teacher. She was so patient with us. We were introduced to the alphabet, phonetically learning to pronounce the sounds, numbers 1-10, and some simple greetings. As I lay here I remember most of the numbers and only a few of the greetings. 

I'm tired yet wide awake. I need to sleep fast because our compound comes alive between 530-6am. So on that note, good night/good morning. 

Until next time...


  1. Okay Doc not only are you well traveled butsoon to be well versed. Loved the pictures, glad all of Uganda is not primitive. Also are Uganda and Luganda the same?

    1. Luganda is one of the main languages of the Buganda Kingdom spoken in Uganda.

  2. Hey Dee! I work for two producers who are looking to do a documentary about med students in the caribbean. We would love about twenty minutes of your time to pick your brain if you don't mind? : ) my email is