This summer has simply flown! It’s been several weeks since I blogged and hardly surprising since I’ve been home in Wales, busy with grandchildren staying over the school holidays, and doing stuff which has been in abeyance for some months. There’s been little new to write about Cambodia though I’m delighted to record that Mao Lay went home well in August after 10 weeks’ stay and 6 major operations thanks to the perseverance of the surgical team.
Back at home it’s been a bumper year for wild fruit and the apple cordons we planted two years ago are fruiting well in the garden – Lanes Prince Albert and Laxton Superb – and the young raspberry canes haven’t done badly either. I’ve been enjoying walking with Brechdan the dog and I’ve been collecting whatever Nature in her bounty has provided. We now have frozen damsons, greengage, merelles and brambles, sloe gin and damson jam. ‘Granny and Papa’s Truly Scrumptious Damson Jam’ – yum yum!
I have collected wood for the fire – it generally takes a season to dry out properly – as there is so much of it round here at the lake-side and from fallen branches that I can’t imagine having to buy any as long as I remain able-bodied. I collect litter too – simply because I hate seeing the mess around the street and on the walking paths. The dog does his bit, but he chews the plastic bottles, licks clean the pizza cartons and his sticks are usually well and truly destroyed before I can rescue them for firewood. The greater part of his gathering is focussed on scraps of food in various states of decay for which his nose is finely tuned. Nevertheless he does a creditable double act combining gatherer and hunter roles; he still chases anything on four legs that moves and anything on two legs that flies, and his efforts at catching flies and wasps on the wing are commendable though I’m glad to say generally unsuccessful especially where the wasps are concerned. I dare say he would have a go at a UFO too but his catching practice to date has been confined to a frisbee.
I’ve done my best to convey what I’ve been up to in Cambodia by talking to the church and the Rotary Club and there have been some articles in the local paper and church magazine but I haven’t said very much about the gathering and analysis of outcome data. Laborious though it was, extracting information from hospital registers and patient dossiers gave a reliable overview of the workload and pattern of maternity practice, and obstetric complications, and a feedback session to the staff was a very useful way to engage them in relevant learning.
I have now been given a wonderful opportunity to return to Cambodia to repeat this exercise in two more provinces alongside Cambodian doctors who will learn and undertake the process of data retrieval and analysis, and present feedback to local, provincial and national level. The hope is that they will be able to continue the exercise in 2012 and subsequent years as a means to training and changing practice and of monitoring the improvement in outcomes year on year. It would give me considerable satisfaction to be able to walk away knowing that a foundation has been laid and others will continue to build on it – knowing that what I enjoyed doing will continue to inspire and benefit others and contribute to the overall goal of reducing maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality.
So I have resurrected the blog and will return to Cambodia, God willing, on November 7th for 5 weeks to continue hunting and gathering and to encourage others to do the same.