Sunday, July 08, 2012

My 5-day stint as a substitute Pediatrician at Zalm

Monday, 2nd July 2012 saw me going to Zalm to substitute for theiresident pediatrician Dr Hani, who was to proceed on a 5-day leave. Earlier, I was to go the previous week, but a change in Dr. Hani's schedule pushed this to this week. The request had come for five days, and I accepted this because I was, in any case, homeless - so to say - for the entire week, as I would be able to move into my own place only by Friday or Saturday. The in-charge of the ambulance drivers is a man called Mr. Sattam, and it was he who took me to Zalm on that warm, sunny Monday morning. 

Zalm is a small village located 50 km ahead of Al Muwayh as you go from T'aif to Riyadh. In fact, it is almost equidistant from Jeddah and Riyadh. I had gone for a 3-day duty here in March, and this was my second occasion. Ideally, my partner should have gone, but he requested me to go this time as well as his wife is in her last month of gestation.

Upon arrival, I met and interacted with  Dr. Talal, the Medical Director. I then met Dr. Hani, and went up to the quarters to take possession of one of the well-appointed rooms. Presently, I began my stint as Dr. Hani left. My first afternoon saw me seeing just three patients, and the next few days were no busier. Food was on the house. I had five breakfasts, five lunches and five dinners. Most of the times, the food was monotonous; for example cheese and halawa sachets were ALWAYS given at breakfast, along with the ubiquitous khubz and tea. Lunches and dinners always had khubs, a piece of roasted or fried chicken or fish, a zucchini vegetable curry and so on. The main positive thing was a sealed 600 ml of sterile water with each meal. In the end, I was able to save 5-6 bottles to take back home (to Al Muwayh) with me.

I got more than enough rest and long afternoon naps; in addition, I was able to study quite a bit. There were sufficient numbers of patients in the ER in the evenings, and the reason for this was that the locals, especially the women-folk, were more comfortable with the late evening visits that avoided the formalities of creating/retrieving a file from the Record Office and avoided the heat that existed outdoors. 

There was just the one delivery, and just the one admission of a child with gastroenteritis. All in all, it was a good stint. It also gave me the chance to meet all the resident doctors here, esp. Dr. Inam Bari, Dr. Afaq Khan, Dr. Fadwa, Dr. Farzana, and Dr. Kareem. (Except for Dr. Fadwa, who is a Sudanese, all the others are Pakistanis. For some strange reason, Zalm has many Pakistani resident doctors!)

P.S. I skipped one night meal from the hospital and went out to the Pakistani restaurant (New Punjab) and had kheema and roti. It was quite nice!

P.P.S. A surgeon also started his substitutional duty with me to Zalm. He is Dr. Tariq, a Syrian surgeon. In the quarters, we occupied neighboring rooms, and we also had access to an empty and working refrigerator and a fully working, multi-channelled TV set with the relevant modem.  This, and the internet, helped me pass the time. 

That's all for now.

No comments: