Friday and Saturday, September 5 & 6, 2014

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Welcome to the next installment of my Rift Valley Adventures, or the fall 2014 chapter of FAME Neurology clinic. This trip will include a five day visit to the Serengeti at the front end of the trip with several days in the northern Serengeti hopefully during the great migration. Though I have been going to the parks now and guiding for the last several years, I haven’t been back to the Serengeti since 2009 and this time will have a driver/guide so that will free me up to take some good photos (hopefully). We will also be at FAME for two plus weeks so will have lots of stories there of course.

Our flight to Amsterdam went well, though not uneventful. Several hours in there was that announcement that I’ve always dreaded hearing asking if there was a doctor on the flight. My first reaction was to see if Danielle had heard it which she had, and so there was no way I could possibly have ignored the request (not that I would have done so). With some trepidation, though, we got up and looked forward and aft to see where any commotion was. I spotted a few people in the aft gallery and started back with Danielle on my heels. We arrived to find several flight attendants and an elderly woman sitting leaning against the bulkhead. We were told she had been coming back to use the bathroom, apparently became faint and sat down whereupon she blacked out briefly and then awakened. The attendant pointed out to us that she had lost her urine (quite obvious though considering the long trail of liquid on the galley floor) and I immediately knew what was going through Danielle’s mind and what her next question was going to be given her specialty (I only let her ask it first, though, out of courtesy in as much as I wouldn’t have taken that satisfaction away from her). “Did you notice whether she had any shaking?” (i.e. did she have a seizure so I could immediately pounce on this clinical opportunity) Oh well, that would have been all too convenient to have a fellow passenger suffer a seizure with two neurologists on board (and the only physicians to have responded to the distress call). I checked her pulse and it was very thready and slow and she was very pale. Plain old vasovagal syncope, but luckily something even we could handle (thankfully). She spoke only Italian and once we got an interpreter there it turned out she suffered from low blood pressure, took no medications and had no medical problems otherwise. Catastrophe averted we went back to our seats after a bit with some thanks and our prides intact knowing that even a neurologist can manage some emergencies. Sorry, no photos on this one.

Thankfully our flight from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro was less eventful and filled with some sleep albeit a bit restless. Arrived at Kili to find our baggage arrived (always an adventure) and met with Abuu (Leonard’s friend and our driver/guide in the Serengeti for the next five days) outside the airport. It’s unseasonably cool here now, but it’s always gorgeous no matter. As usual, Pendo had an incredible dinner waiting for us and then off to sleep after our 18+ hours of travel here. Lala salama!

Mike

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