I’ve been back home for nearly two weeks now, and I’ve been mostly sleeping and reading and watching TV, but I thought it was about time I concluded my recounting of my elective journey.
So the final two weeks of my time in Cambodia were spent at the National Paediatric Hospital in Phnom Penh, and it was quite different from the Friendship hospital. During our induction tour, we learnt that they receive a lot of funding from NGOs and international charities, which helped explain how much more modern and up to date the equipment they had was.
We also got told that all treatment at the hospital was free, which was also funded by the generous grants the hospital receives. One sad thing we learnt from the tour though, was that the number of doctors in Cambodia went from about 4000 to just over 100 during the Khmer Rouge regime, which is just heartbreaking.
My first week at the Paediatric hospital was spent in General Medicine, where I saw a lot of dengue fever. So. Much. Dengue. Fever. I was quite lucky again to be with a team of doctors who spoke great English and were keen to get me involved. My days started with a ward round with the doctor, and she assigned me patients to take histories from and examine, before reporting back to her with a differential diagnosis, suggested investigations, and proposed management.
I was sent off to see these patients with medical students who acted as translators for me, and I really appreciated this because it made history taking much easier. The children and their parents were all so fascinated by and distracted by my hair, even though I tried to hide it with surgical caps. So my history taking and examinations had quite an audience, as they just HAD to take photos of me to show to their families.
My second week was spent in the surgical department, and it confirmed for me that I am definitely not interested in surgery in the future, as not even paeds could make it more exciting for me. Lowest point was suddenly crying during an achilles tenotomy and casting for clubfoot, because it reminded me of own casting and how sad I was that day. Ahh, I really need to get better at dealing with that, but it’ll take time I guess.
Overall I enjoyed my time at the paediatric hospital, and it was really great for me to do a paediatric placement on two feet, as my paeds placement in the UK last year was spent on crutches. How time flies!
And just like that, my time in Cambodia was at an end. It had been a rollercoaster of an experience, but one thing I’ll take away from my time there is the importance of not underestimating how significant a language barrier can be. I was really humbled by how accommodating the doctors and midwives were, as they took time out of their busy days and 24 hour shifts to explain things and translate patient histories. If I’m to be honest, I was more in the way than I was helpful, so I really appreciated the chance to be part of the team.
I also really enjoyed staying in the Work the World house in Phnom Penh – the food was delicious, the staff were helpful and friendly, and it was great getting to know other students from around the world; I now have friends from Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands, so looking forward to going to visit them at some point 🙂
Anyways, as for the not-so-smooth ending, OFCOURSE my journey home wasn’t without difficulty. Just my luck, eh? Long story short: I was supposed to be flying from Cambodia –> Kuala Lumpur –> London, but my lay over in Kuala Lumpur was extended, resulting in me having a 19 HOUR WAIT. To make things worse, the airline couldn’t find the hotel reservation they had promised, so yet again I had been screwed over.
But yet again, Abs a.k.a my mother came to the rescue, and after about an hour of phone calls back and forth between the help desk in Kuala Lumpur, and the airline back in the UK, she got them to give me a room in a 5 star hotel, with dinner and breakfast provided, as well as transport there and back from the airport. My mother is an absolute BOSS and I can’t say it enough, but I would be so so lost without her.
So yeah, that concludes my elective journey! Thanks for coming along on this cray cray adventure with me, it really has been quite something. Looking forward to relaxing at home over the next couple of weeks before heading back to university for FINAL YEAR ahhhhhhhh.