17 NOVEMBER 2009
It was only Tuesday, but we felt that we have been here for quite awhile. We were getting use to the time difference especially the different praying times. We had sardine sandwiches for breakfast, and I had my dose of instant Cappuccino to start the day. By 8am, we were all good and ready to go, but Haji Hani decided to stay home since he was still feeling a bit under the weather. It was quite a surprise since I doubt before this he ever stood up any program. Given the task to lead the team, we headed out to our next destination – Tangah Sukur. On the way, we stopped by a wholesale dealer shop which actually belonged to Pak Yas’s (our driver) brother. We stocked on mineral water and I found a whole pack of instant cappuccino and mini chocolate tiger biscuits to add to our supply.
Tangah Sukur was a nearby village which took around half an hour to reach from our residence. We were placed in front of the mosque on a nice patio of an abandoned home damaged during the earth quake. The people of Tangah Sukur were very friendly and we treated 83 patients altogether with main complaints of hypertension and fungal infections. In view that we had just one big bottle of albendazole syrup, we decided to have a small worm campaign where the kids are given the dose of albendazole on the spot. After a lot of laughs, we took pictures with the locals. Most of the locals were pretty familiar with Malaysia, having relatives here. They even have interesting pets, and one of them actually showed her baby foxes. It was common for the locals to adopt these foxes as they can be domesticated and used to find good coffee beans. Yes, these were the foxes that eat the good coffee fruit and the locals gather the beans from their droppings. It is said that these beans produce the best coffee in the world, but despite being an avid coffee addict, I guess I was more grossed out with the thought of the beans extracted from fox droppings. Eww…
Lunch was again Nasi Padang situated by the beach. Despite the lovely scenery, all of us were quite fed up of the same type of dishes everyday. Azmee refused to eat except for some fish fritters that looked like ‘tempeyek’. Shahril, on the other hand, was craving for some tom yam. It was time to make a few changes; I don’t think I can survive eating the same menu day in, day out. Before we reached home, I told Pak Yas that we needed to go shopping. We headed for Pariaman market where we bought chicken, fish, prawns and squid. We tried looking for things like Tom Yam paste or curry powder, or even tumeric powder but apparently it was non-existent. We were forced to make do with whatever that was there but to me, this is where the fun is, creating food from basics. We then headed to the nearby pharmacy to stock on eye drops and LMS cream. When we reached home, Haji Hani was already feeling better. He then decided to take us to a nice place that made praying clothes for women. (Personal Note : For those coming – this is a must go place).
That night, we decided to cook for a change. We surprised Haji Hani by whipping up seafood tom yam and Fried Sambal Chilli Kerisi with omelette. Now at least the food feels more like home.
18 NOVEMBER 2009
It was our 5th day in Padang, and today we made nasi lemak for breakfast. Haji Hani was so happy, he grinned from ear to ear to get Malaysian nasi lemak for breakfast. We even packed some for lunch. We were scheduled to go to Sikabu at Lubuk Akap. The journey was a short one, less than half an hour.
We set camp in front of a fertilizer store situated at the main junction of the village. The villagers were excited to see us and many came despite the earlier rain. Altogether we treated 151 patients (actually a bit more but some of our papers went missing and some didn’t register). The main problem was symptomatic anaemia which I presumed mainly due to worm infestation since most of the people there were farmers and they walked around barefoot most of the time. It was like election come early and we were overwhelmed by the crowd. There was one boy who had a right lower thigh abscess. We advised him to go to the hospital but he refused. Finally, the father agreed to take him to our residence for an I&D. Towards the end, there was one patient who required a home visit.
I went with Haji Hani and Pak Yus to the old man’s house. The house was partly damaged from the earthquake. The wife was very happy that we came; previously she was one of our patients. She wanted to know what was wrong with her husband. Clinical examination revealed an old man with complete right hemiplegia and hypereflexia, with lower cranial nerves dysfunction. His blood pressure was 220/110 mmHg. There was no murmur heard. We advised the family to take him to a hospital for a better evaluation as we believe he may have suffered a stroke over the left side, but the family was more worried about who to care for him in the hospital as all the children were working outside of Padang, and the wife is too old. I left them with advice on stroke care at home and the wife gave us 3 durians to bring home.
We stopped by lunch at a nearby Nasi Padang stall. Nasi lemak and avocado juice does blend well apparently. After lunch, we made a quick stop to a mattress wholeseller and then went to look for some fabric with nice embroideries. I guess Pak Yas misunderstood what we wanted because he brought us to a shop selling wedding clothes. It was okay though, at least we had a nice look at the traditional clothes and items used for a wedding ceremony. The wedding ceremonies held here are very colourful with yellow and red being a must. The groom would normally be seen paraded by the roadside towards the bride’s house. It would be interesting to actually attend one.
We went home exhausted and most of us slept. I got up to wait for the boy with the right thigh abscess to come. While waiting, there was a loud commotion outside. A man was brought in to our residence with sustained superficial lacerations from his head actively bleeding. Initially we thought that he was a motorcyclist being hit by a car. But after further questioning, it turns out the car only sustained minor damages, but the drivers ended up fighting each other. The assailant hit the victim with some metal object which appeared to be blunt, as the lacerations were not as deep. There were 3 superficial lacerations altogether ranging from 0.5 cm to 2 cm. Unfortunately, we did not have any ATT to jab him in case of tetanus, nor did we have any sutures left to stitch up the lacerations. Luckily, the bleeding stopped as we were rinsing the wound so it was suffice to just cover it. I still wish we had some sutures. Despite the wounds would definitely heal, but I felt like we could have done a better job. We covered him with antibiotics, gave him some pain killers and advised daily dressing at any nearby health facility. The assailant sustained minor cuts and bruises. Did I mention there was a crowd and the police was there too? It felt like a scene from a drama.
Afterwards, we packed our things and ate magi mee for dinner.
To be continued………