Amsterdam and beyond…..


For some odd reason I always think I’ll get some sleep on the flight over the Atlantic, but arriving in Amsterdam I’m never fully rested. It’s no wonder since they feed you a bit over an hour into your flight and then again a bit over an hour before you land and considering it’s only a six plus hour flight you’ve got only several hours in between. An hour to toss and turn and finally get comfortable, fall asleep and then it’s time to wake up. Next time I’ll just work or read or watch movies straight through and skip fooling myself! Perhaps I’ll get some rest on the next flight to Kilimanjaro.

Last September, Danielle and I had a bit of excitement on the flight having “rescued” a poor women who had syncopized in front from of the lavatory – no, it wasn’t out of necessity as neither of us were on our way to use it at the time. No events this flight though I probably just jinxed myself considering we have a tad over an hour remaining in our flight. Oh well, perhaps something more to write about.

Not much layover in Amsterdam so I’ll try to upload this on the fly. They have so-so free Wi-Fi at the airport depending upon which gate you’re flying out of whether it wants to work or not. That’s perhaps the one thing you find you miss the most when in Africa – connectivity. They actually have a wonderful cell network – when it’s working – as there are no landlines anywhere in Northern Tanzania. Most people there carry at least two cell phones to assure that you have one connecting to the network where you happen to be at the moment. Somehow I’ve always picked the one that isn’t. There are a number of cell “dead zones,” though, where we’ll be traveling, and being out of touch for an entire day at a village while providing medical care can be a bit unnerving. Considering many things we often see aren’t your everyday maladies, the lack of easy access to the internet can be a hardship.

And perhaps that’s just a metaphor for the real issue we face here practicing medicine – the lack of technology. And why this experience can be so eye-opening for those who have never practiced neurology without an MRI, or a CT scan, or even an x-ray for that matter. You must trust your instincts when sending someone several hours away for a study that may cost a month’s income or even a year’s or may just be entirely out of reach for some. Bringing technology where it doesn’t exist currently will solve only part of the dilemma. Bringing the knowledge of how and when to use that technology is the real key and that’s just what we’ll be doing for the next several weeks. Working with the doctors and nurses here to pass on the knowledge, that is so powerful, of when and where to use that technology that we take for granted every day of our lives.

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