01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Is there a doctor in the House? 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Is there a doctor in the House?

Last week I noticed that our gardener was not wearing his usual happy grin, and he explained that he had a sore on his lip, making smiling painful. He wondered if I had something for it and I gave him an old tube of Blistex that seemed to do the trick. Today he asked for medicine (dawa) for his one year old son, who is fighting a nasty cold. I gave him some children’s medicine for the fever and eucalyptus and said that if he is not better within 24 hrs I’ll give the gardener money to take his son to the doctor. Last time this particular boy was ill I paid for a doctors’ visit and gave the gardener a week’s compassionate leave (plus travel expenses to his home town), only to find (on the father’s return) that the baby had been suffering from an expected higher temperature following a routine measles vaccination.

We also provide Panadol freely to anyone who needs it and now I come to think of it, do seem to get through quantities every month. I’m a bit worried about setting myself as the local pharmacist, although bringing up three children does seem to necessarily require every mother (world wide) to equip themselves with more than basic medical know how. It goes a bit further than just about dealing with coughs and colds and doling out arnica for bumps and bruises. Diagnosing rota virus, chicken pox, 24 hour sick bugs, amoebic dysentery, worms, heat rash and Nairobi fly burns are all par for the course. Friends of mine have applied steri-strips to gashed open heads and made splints for strained arms or legs at the drop of a hat.

A seven year old at our seven year old’s birthday party last weekend, fell off the top of the adventurous (and popular) ‘flying fox’ slide (fashioned ‘ad-hoc’ from Mr W’s rally car winch attached to a fever tree) and I just plain panicked. It didn’t help that the injured child went all floppy, couldn’t move her arm and kept on crying and wincing in pain for ages, refusing all offers of fanta, crisps and sweets. I was torn over whether to abandon x 24 seven year old girls at our house and head off to the nearest casualty facility. In retrospect I could easily have done that as there were enough other adults to cope, however, instead I put her in front of Cartoon Network and rang her mum. It might not have helped matters that I kept insisting the poor child waggle her arm and fingers, in order to make me feel better. Her mum came as quickly as possible (after half an hour) and wound up spending 5 hours in clinics and hospital waiting rooms, only to discover after x-ray that the limb wasn’t broken. She finally got home at 10pm, her Saturday night ruined.

I do feel a bit guilty about that incident and am not sure that I really do qualify as a self proclaimed pharmacist/doctor after all (in spite of years of unwanted experience). Perhaps I should have got the gardener to go to the doctor in the first place and given him the afternoon off today…..oh the dilemma and the responsibility! I hope the poor boy has improved by tomorrow, not slipped into a coma or something dreadful. We shall see.

Quick update: The littel boy did end up seeing a doctor and having pneumonia but has made a full recovery now!

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