Medical Zambia


Some random thoughts, titbits, not enough for a blog by themselves.

The collective noun for elephants is a “memory”. For zebras, it’s a “dazzle”. But the what about the most numerous animals in the national park, impala? If you look carefully, you can see a black and white version of McDonald’s Golden Arches on their rumps. Indeed, for big cats, impala are the equivalent of fast food hamburgers. So I propose a new collective noun “a happy meal of impalas”. There was a herd of about fifty on either side of the track this morning. I slowed down, but they sometimes get spooked and run across to join the others, leaping really high over the roadside ditch, back legs kicking out behind them.

They are very beautiful, graceful animals
Not very convincing set of McDonald’s arches.
Photo taken during the dry season

As I drove back to my house after a home visit just after nightfall this evening, I rounded a corner and almost ran into a giraffe standing on the road. I expect to come across elephants and hippos, but four long, thin, camouflaged legs didn’t instantly capture my attention. I had to slam on the anchors and screeched to a halt in a cloud of dust. The giraffe just looked down at me and serenely wandered off.

Easy to see in the daytime, not so visible on a winding dirt road after dark

This morning I was driving through Cropping Village on my way to the clinic when a young girl did a series of cartwheels across the tarmac road. Out of sheer delight. This put a smile on my face for the rest of the day.

Our female nurses are very stylish and wear white individualised uniforms to show off their slim figures. One was late for the Monday morning meeting and I noticed that she was wearing a white tunic with a stand-up collar. Unfortunately this did not conceal a large irregular, purpuric, purple lesion over the lower right sternocleidomastoid muscle. She had a huge love bite. Of course, being a well-mannered doctor, I didn’t tease her about this, well, not much. Good for her, but the nursing officer in charge will be closely monitoring her attendance at early morning meetings in future.

She came with us to do community child care clinics in two villages today and felt so exhausted that she had to go and have a rest in the car. I didn’t blame her.

I showed the mothers and children the photographs which I had taken last month in their villages. They were all delighted. I offer a WhatsApp forwarding service of the photos if they give me their phone numbers, but few have smartphones. The children remembered how to play hopscotch, which I showed them last time I did the clinic there. They all wanted to have their pictures taken again. In the first photograph, they look serious and unsmiling. Then I make a joke or a funny face and they smile, allowing me to capture a happy expression.

I have seen a patient with hand, foot and mouth disease recently. This reminded me of when one of my daughters contracted this common viral infection when she was about five years old. I remember telling my wife about the signs while I was driving. I lifted one of my hands off the steering wheel to demonstrate where the inflamed papules and vesicles develop. When I looked down at my palm, I saw that I had caught the disease too!

By Dr Alfred Prunesquallor

Maverick doctor with 40 years experience, I reduced my NHS commitment in 2013. I am now enjoying being free lance, working where I am needed overseas. Now I am working in the UK helping with the current coronavirus pandemic.

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