February 17, 2005

Tuesday morning

Where were we? Where was the Fun Zone? Am I in the Fun Zone? The Fun Zone is having a little trouble waking up this morning. I don't think I'm quite in the Fun Zone at this point. Maybe, the Moribund Zone (not quite sure what that word means - help me out here blawg fans).

Well, we are about to start another beautiful day in Addis Ababa. I've been burning the midnight oil (actually, the 7 p.m. oil, but to me it's like midnight) working down at the hospital. We always have to be on call to collect the data from the doctors whenever they are free because so much of the 3,000 patient records are stored in their heads. To any in the medical profession out there, you might find it interesting that the clinic delivers anti-AIDS treatment to approximately 3,000 patients. Most patients return on a monthly follow-up basis. As such, each of these doctors can see on any given day between 70-80 patients. I would guess that the average daily patient per doctor ratio in the health clinic of my youth was around 15. All in all, it's just a lot, but it's also the reality. There are few AIDS treatment centers in the country, staffed by few doctors. Patients have no place to go but to these few places.

Well, anyway, hopefully our data collection and analysis will produce some meaningful results. It will be one of if not the first publication examining the clinical and demographic characteristics of patients on AIDS treatment in Ethiopia. Hopefully, it will serve as a blueprint for the rapid expansion planned for this sector.

Yesterday, before work, I had a morning visit to the public baths. Very nice. I'm a big fan of the baths. I think a lot of my foreign colleagues, friends, etc., are a little put off by the thought of using a tub that gets used throughout the day. I think most of my friends prefer the sauna. Not me. I love the baths. The steam, the head to toe red (including the inside - this is the difference from the sauna where I feel like all you warm up is your skin). Besides, each tub is cleaned with bleach after every use.

The major drawback to the public baths is often the wait. There are limited tubs and a lot of people looking to get their 45 minute soak. I circumvented this bottleneck yesterday by paying two times the price to rent one of the family rooms. Because the doors are generally closed to all the bathrooms, except when someone is going in or out or it's being cleaned, I hadn't seen the inside of one of these "family rooms", so I didn't know what I was getting into. All I knew was that those who had paid family price often moved through the waiting room at 3-4 times the speed of everyone else. For an extra $1.50, it was worth it to me to take the family size, even though it was just for me. The attendant was also confounded by the fact that I was alone, but it was worth it.

Once you enter your own room, there's generally an external room with a covered bench/bed. This is where you change and then head back into the bath. The tub is maybe 2 feet deep, tiled (with all sorts of color options). From there, you just fill up the tub and sit. It's natural spring water, so the minerals are good. You can also turn on the shower to fill the room with steam. I usually last about 20 minutes before having to step out for a few minutes, then back in for a final soak. The effects are excellent - clean skin, warm body (Addis can be very cold). All in all, a real plus.

Going back to the research/paper I'm assisting with, we seem to have ironed out all the differences in the competing parties. We had a major sit down with the other MD and our organizational sponsor (also an MD) and clarified expectations and our common research interests. Like I said before, I think this research saps the brain of creative strength, so I feel limited in what I can deliver this morning. Maybe I'll try back in a couple of hours.


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