Sunday 4 March 2018

Hello everyone

I am now entering my final 4 weeks.  The cataract surgeries continue at a pace – we are still doing 15 – 20 surgeries per day.  I have my usual complaints of diabetes and high blood pressure, plus a patient this week who was in a motorbike accident the night before, and someone else who is under the continuing care of a Cardiologist!  I often think that ‘by now, I must have seen everything’, but I am still discovering new things, no 2 days are ever the same!  I have attached the recently updated eye team photo – Rachael joined the team just after Christmas and wanted a photo of everyone.

Wednesday evening medical inservice was a talk on SEPSIS given by Dr Anna, she is the Hospital Physician onboard and is from Northern Ireland.  I have also been attending the Taize prayer service on Wednesday evenings too.  I wish it could happen more than once a week, as I find the need to find quiet and stillness is necessary at the moment.

On Friday we had our usual Celebration of Sight followed by a farewell to some of our Day Crew.  This last week was the final Primary Screening events to find cataract patients.   So, the team of Day Crew who worked alongside Larina (Ophthalmic Technician from the US), have finished their contracts this week.  Next week, the team working with Secondary screening will finish, and at the end of March, the Day Crew working with myself and Kim will also finish.  It was quite an emotional time.  We all ate pizza together, and then many of the day crew stood up and gave a talk on what they had learnt from their time working with Mercy Ships, both on a practical/life level, and also spiritually too.  There were some tears.  Then they were then all presented with a certificate and had a group photo taken.  Everyone is realizing that the cataract programme is drawing to a close.  Before we left, Jeamen, one of the day crew who works with myself and Kim, gave me a bag full of ripe mangos from the tree in her garden.  She had given me just one several days before, and when other crew members saw me eating it in the dining room, they were all desperate to know if they were now available onboard!!  (everyone gets very excited about mangos).  The 14 mangos that Jeamen gave me took approx. 15 minutes to share out!!!

As the whole eye team stayed for the entire day at the clinic, we had the privilege of seeing our 1 day post-op patients.  It is the only day that I can see them after the surgery.  2 patients in particular stand out.  One man who was completely blind, was crying tears of joy when he had his patch removed, and another young girl who was also nearly blind had the greatest smile when her patch was taken off.  She actually spoke English, so I could tell her that I was one of the people who was asking lots of medical questions the day before!  Friday turned out to be a quite an emotional day.

On Saturday I went off for a swim at a local hotel and have been to Mass this morning.  I think they had a different choir at the cathedral today, as the music and singing was really lovely.

The photos included are of one of primary screening sites at Parcours Vita in Douala.  The people arrive, sit under the sheltered area and then are given a card to go into the screening room.  There Larina performs a quick assessment of their eyes, and if they are a potential surgical patient, they receive an appointment to attend secondary screening.  Larina has been reviewing several hundred patients each day for the last 6 months – Dr Glenn told us that approx. 23,000 people had passed through this process.  Out of that number, 9,000 had made it to secondary screening, and from those 9,000 – approx. 1200 have been operated on.

I’ll close here.  Thank you for all the responses to my emails.

Hope everyone is ok.

Melanie x