Things I like about Jamaica

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 lovely resorts. However, there are a lot of beautiful beaches and entertainment I can enjoy in my homeland Myanmar (a.k.a 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 Rabies
  • NO Malaria, and
  • NO Snake Bites.

When I was a house surgeon (internship) 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 Rabies for every dog-bite cases. Sometimes, the availability of the vaccine and the reassuring the concerned guardians or parents are hurdles too.

In Jamaica, I was able to 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 had to focus on the management of sickle cell disease, obesity, and other metabolic diseases. I got an opportunity to see my very first case of sickle cell disease and a case of fresh gun-shot wound only when I reached Jamaica.

Before I forget to mention, I noticed that there is also a relatively low prevalence of tuberculosis which really ease me a lot. It can be challenging to treat TB patients in under-resourced situations. Patient compliance with long treatment regime, follow-up, social support, treatment of MDR-TB and associated comorbidities such as HIV and pregnancy all gave me headaches. 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 types of equipment, right?

You can have a very unlucky day with your condom burst.

You can have a needle-prick from an 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 every day.

In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away
-shing xiong

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