Once you heard somebody saying “Jamaica”, a beautiful island with white sandy beaches and the relaxing reggae music will come into your mind. Yes, it has many beautiful beaches and resorts and I love that. However, I can enjoy those in my homeland Myanmar (aka Burma) too.
So, what are the things really impressive to me? It would be nothing important for other people but directly affect my job or profession, which is the fact that there are –
NO Malaria, and
NO Snake Bites.
When I was a house surgeon (internship after med school) back home, I came across with several cases of malaria and snake bites. These cases are really stressful and need prompt management including intensive care as they have dreadful complications and high mortality rate. And, I also had to concern with the vaccination of the rabies for every dog bite cases, even though I never saw a case of rabies.
Once I reached Jamaica, I put aside my knowledge about the management of cerebral malaria, differentiation and management of neurotoxic and hemorrhagic snake bites, management of thalassemia and so on. Instead, I focused on the sickle cell disease, obesity and other metabolic diseases. I see my very first case of sickle cell disease here, which is a JFK (just for knowledge) or GTK (good to know) topic in our med school. And I swear to god that I have never seen and manage a gunshot case until I reach Jamaica.
Before I forget to mention, I notice that there is also a relatively low prevalence of tuberculosis which really ease me a lot as you all know how difficult to control and deal with the TB patients. Patient compliance on long treatment regime and follow-up, social support, and the threat of MDR-TB, HIV vs TB are all the challenges. I remembered the days of my ward rounds with a face-mask on TB ward in my home-town hospital. I just made a shallow breathing during the ward round, and felt like I am choking until the round is finished. I am not exaggerating, the mask that I wore was not N-95 and even if it said N-95, you cannot trust and rely on all those equipments, right?
You can have a very unlucky day with your condom burst.
You can have a needle-prick from a HIV positive patient and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) failed.
This is our damn LIFE. We live in the world of uncertainty and are risking our lives everyday.
In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away-shing xiong