Half full

20 Oct 2016

Peter Davey, DTMH September 2016

Imagine if you will, an empty vessel. This vessel may be a variety of different sizes, different shapes, and different ages. It may have been strengthened through experience and battered by what it has seen before. This vessel is the brain of a DTMHer at the start of the course.

Now imagine that over the past 6 weeks this vessel has been slowly filled in often unnoticeable increments. A bit of HIV information here, some malaria there. It’s true that perhaps some people filled themselves up more readily than others. And it’s true that try as they might, the average DTMHer may have had some leakage. This may be due to “that night out”, “that climbing weekend” or “those times when I feel asleep in lectures”.

But whatever the circumstances of myself and my peers, the treadmill of time has continued its steady and unrelenting revolution in the brightly neon-lit gym of life.

And so we find ourselves in this position. That empty vessel we started with is now half full. 50% done. Halfway there. And it’s a scary thought.

Week 6 started in fine form. To paraphrase the words of R&B megastar and graduate of the DTMH 2014*, Rihanna, it was all about “worms, worms, worms, worms, worms, worms”

Yes we were taken on a wriggling, festering, writhing journey through the world of whipworms, roundworms, flukes and tapeworms, assisted by none other than James “I’m totally nailing this novelty emoji poo hat look” La Course.

He did well to tap into the never ending reservoir of medic competitiveness. Several quizzes established who had taken in the most worms (not literally). It all being a bit of fun it would have been ridiculous and petty if certain individuals had cheated to make others team score’s lower. Something an antipodean would do.

Clare and Barney emerged victorious as the winners of worm related quizzes - two tall, blue eyed, blonde haired, athletic worm savants. Diversity is alive and well in the DTMH.  Barney can add this triumph to his suspiciously accurate knowledge of Take That and Shayne Ward songs from the early 00’s. I have no idea how he is still single.

Onwards to a more sobering and informative session regarding one of the most widely publicised tropical health concerns of recent times- Ebola. It was inspiring to learn about our lecturer’s role and even more so hearing from our peers who had been to Sierra Leone. From a personal note it was refreshing to hear an honest evaluation about the work of different NGOs during the epidemic and realise the importance of questioning what you are doing in any sort of intervention.

With all this in mind it was somewhat fitting that at the end of the week we moved onto a highlight of the course thus far: the NGO forum. This was a chance for all the perpetual do-gooders, flush with bright eyed, bushy tailed enthusiasm from the course to be matched up with different NGOs from around the world. Maps were consulted. Networking was done. Email addresses swapped. Plans tentatively made.

If this wasn’t enough there was even a screening of “Fire in the Blood”. This excellent documentary looked at the shocking behaviour of the global pharmaceutical industry in putting lifesaving ARV treatment out of reach of the poorest people in need. It certainly lit a fire in the belly of the viewers and generated much discussion.

After what seemed like a long, long week it was time for a weekend of fun to put on hold any important things like life decisions, revision and sobriety.

Another group of intrepid Troplets headed back to Snowdonia to get their fill of the great Welsh outdoors. The imposing ridge of Crib Goch was scarpered along in merry fashion whilst the sun smiled on benevolently. Jen Naper brought the craic (as always), hearts were broken by Tim “Dark horse” Martin with his mournful moving musical majesty and shoulders relaxed to never before felt levels by the magic hands of Al “any excuse to touch you” Fatkin. A great way to get away from the worries of the world.

Another development in the intricate world of team DTMH 2016 was the arrival of a new renegade and completely unofficial blogger. This talented individual doesn’t even own a rule book he is so edgy, but if he did he would tear it up whilst smoking and looking around scornfully. Definitely more NWA than Vanilla Ice.

Something that we are all looking forward to (even if we don’t know it yet) is international night. I’m sure the evening will be blogged about in intricate detail at the time but needless to say instruments are being practised, dance moves perfected and artistic direction given frequently and incessantly.

So to my fellow trop medders, life might seem a bit grim right now. The weather is getting worse and exams are coming close. We have seen some of the effects of horrific epidemics combined with fragile health systems and devastating health inequalities. And sometimes it seems our interventions are not justifiable, no matter what our intentions may be.

But we have also seen some of the fantastic work that our colleagues have done in difficult circumstances, and met organisations who are actively trying to shape the future of health care throughout the world.

I still have hope, and my glass will always be half full.

So my friends, to finish I will leave you with a wee Haiku of Hope in the vain of a certain film many of us have seen recently.

All will be ok

Work hard, laugh harder, stay hungry,

Hope springs eternal. 

*completely fabricated. Please don’t sue me.