Hard to believe that a month has passed since we left the US, but indeed it has. We start the ~40 hour trip home tomorrow!
We had our last day at the hospital yesterday. Somewhat appropriately, our day was spent rounding in a new part of the hospital, Children’s Ward B, the area where the patients needing a longer hospital stay end up. As we found, their hospital stay is often a bit longer than actually needed… There seems to be somewhat of a tendency to just “continue therapy” on these kids without really thinking about their progress or the accuracy of their diagnosis. A few examples: Meghan discharged a kiddo who’d been in for over 2 weeks on IV antibiotics with what was likely bronchiolitis and who now looked like a peach, and I changed the diagnosis on a 13 year old boy from “trypanosomiasis” (African Sleeping Sickness) to “normal teenage sleeping pattern,” counseled Mom, and sent him back on home after a 7 day hospitalization. We saw some of the TB kids as well and were able to sent one super cute little baby with milliary TB home to finish out her course of drugs, much to her mother’s pleasure. All in all, it was a nice, fairly relaxed way to round out the month at KCH.
After our work was done, we took a little side trip to Dedza, a small town about 90 kilometers from Lilongwe. The town is up in the mountains, so we had lovely scenery to enjoy on the way (not to mention great roads – always a welcome treat here!). There’s a nice lodge in town that specialized in pottery, so we spent some time browsing the shop there, walked around their grounds a bit, and had a little dessert before heading back to the city.
Today was a day off to spend a last bit of time around town and to get our packing done. Turns out today is actually a holiday, May Day (like Labor Day), so things were a little quieter than usual. We slept in (hooray!) this morning, then had lunch with a lovely neighboring family we met earlier in the month. After lunch we went back to Ama Khofi, a nice little coffee shop/cafe we found earlier this month in a nice part of Lilongwe. We got dessert and used up the last of our Kwacha (Malawian currency) on a few things from the small shop there. We took one last walk in our part of the city this afternoon and are now in for the night, wrapping up packing for home.
Our first flight leaves just after 1pm local time tomorrow, and I finally make it back to Memphis around 9:30 Friday night. The itinerary: Lilongwe -> Blantyre (no change of plane) -> Addis Ababa -> Rome (no change of plane) -> DC -> Cincinnati -> DC -> Memphis. Going home is always bittersweet, and this time is no exception, but I’m ready to be back in Tennessee! This will likely be my last post from here in Malawi, but I’ll try to get a few more pictures and some final reflections up in the coming days. Don’t stop reading just yet!