I didn’t know I had the kind of skills needed for this kind of work before I started, but you learn from mission to mission.
The office manager tells me that there have been two bomb blasts in Quetta, two kilometres [1.2 miles] from our house. The first was in the bazaar and the second was 15 minutes later in the same place. The result: 42 people dead and 250 wounded. All MSF staff, national and international, are safe, but some are struggling to get home and others struggling to get to the nightshift, which starts at five during Ramadan.
I ask one of the day shift LHVs if she can stay on tonight as one of the LHVs is definitely not going to be able to make the nightshift. I head home for the day. I greet a newly arrived international staff member from Islamabad on his way to the flood zone. He’s the ninth person in two weeks to arrive to assist in the flood relief work.
The Logistician and Project Coordinator come home. The Head of Mission has put us on a higher security alert and therefore only the minimal number of staff will work tomorrow. I phone LHVs and make sure I will have only two members of staff on duty and that they can get to work. I phone the referral nurse who visits our patients transferred to hospital. I make sure she’s safe and that she only visits patients she really has to.
I have dinner with my housemates and we watch a movie.
Bedtime. I’m allowed a lie in tomorrow, as I’m not allowed to go to work or leave the house really. I’ll study and work from the house. It’s hot but I fall asleep to the buzzing of the fan which I know will go off in a couple of hours when the power cuts out. I’m on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—as I will be for the next 9 months. I am not sure the LHVs are going to manage to phone me when they need to because the cell phone reception has been on the blink recently. I hope they’ll be okay.
All the antenatal clinic patients have been seen. Noor Bibi delivers and both mother and baby are well. Two hours later she’s on her way home. She can’t wait any longer. Her taxi is waiting outside to take her home.
Back in the minivan to go back to the office in Quetta. I text the Project Coordinator and Office Manager to say I’m leaving.
We arrive at the office. Text again. I go straight back to the house for lunch which is two houses down from the office. I have lunch with two of my housemates, the Logistician and Project Coordinator.
Back to the office. I finish off my monthly reports and email them to the Medical Coordinator.
Check back soon for the conclusion of our “A Day in the Life” series!
I’m shaking—but there’s no time to sit about. The antenatal clinic activities continue. We prescribe antibiotics yet again, as many women have urinary tract infections at the moment, as with fasting for Ramadan they became dehydrated. I send another woman for an ultrasound to a private doctor in town as she tells me she’s had bleeding today and yesterday.
We have only one woman in labor. Her name is Noor Bibi. She has had more than five pregnancies. She is dilating and keeps pointing to her thigh. She wants us to give her an oxytocin injection to speed up her labor. This is a common but an illegal practice in Pakistan that claims hundreds of lives every year. We encourage her to walk and drink some juice.
A woman comes in with her baby to be seen by us. The baby is four days old and jaundiced. It’s lost too much weight for a newborn but other than that looks well. We find out she’s only been breastfeeding two to three times a day (it’s advisable to breastfeed six to eight times a day). We give her breastfeeding education and tell her to come back on Wednesday so we can check up on the baby and in order for both to be vaccinated. I get a phone call from the LHV who accompanied Yasmin to hospital; she has been seen by doctors.
To be continued…