Thursday, July 14, 2011


I'm done! I guess I can go home now...

OK, that's not strictly true. Nor would I want to go home. But I am finished combing the biopsy log books and computer database for cases of vulvar cancer. Which was one of the main reasons I came to Gaborone.

Looking through the books was a breeze- it took me all of 3 hours. The computer, however, was a horse of different color. Technology is supposed to make things simpler, right? Theoretically I should have been able to enter "vulva"as a biopsy site and work would be done. Except that many of the samples don't specify a biopsy site. Or they do but it's spelled "valva" or "vulvah" Or they call it "genital region" or "perianal" or they don't call it anything at all but the results specify vulva. Jeesh. You say vulva, I say...nevermind.

So I clicked through each and every biopsy just in case.

The main issue was that I needed a password to log onto the system. Which, obviously, I don't have. So after clinic, I'd head over to the lab and inevitably, the entire staff would be at lunch...for the next 2 hours. Like the place would be totally deserted. And when they came back, I'd have to kind of politely beg around for someone who could log me onto the computer. And when I finally would get onto the system (around, say 3:00) , I'd be furiously clicking away and then, around 4:20ish, everyone would go home so I'd have to log off. Oy.

The clinic during lunch break. A ghost town populated only by test tubes and eager American medical students.
This, plus the fact that I'm in a rush because they told me that pulling the actual samples by early August would be "difficult." So I've been pretty stressed the past week trying to rush this list to them ASAP so that they can start getting the tissue blocks I need.

But, glory of glories...I finished today. The final list is in their hands and now I just need to wait and hope that 27 days is enough time to get the specimens.

If I had my way, I'd have put in a solid 8 hours on the computer and be done with it. But it's not my way, or my country and it's important not to forget that. You could drive yourself crazy railing against all the perceived inefficiencies here but that would be totally counter productive and narrow minded.

And the truth is that most everyone has been unbelievably nice. I've been intruding on their space and their time and despite the fact that I try my hardest to be must be annoying. So I'm doubly glad to be done so I'm out of everyone's hair. I think I need to bring everyone some chocolate as a thank you. Chocolate, the great equalizer.

I'm kind of sad that this part is done. Besides trying to smooth out the prospective patient enrollment, this was my one task that I was fully in charge of. I've been picking up little side projects as well but I'm currently up to date with those as well. I guess I'll go triple check the biopsy bag, redo the clinic schedule or read more about skin diseases :) Did you guys know there is something called hailey-hailey disease?

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