By Max Horsmans
Last week was the first week for me to work on my thesis in the hospital. I did quite a lot of preparations in Cape Town, but the ‘real’ work has to be done in George Hospital. The most interesting thing to do for me was the palliative ward round. There is a multidisciplinary group that gathers every Wednesday; the palliative team. The palliative team get referrals from the doctors and nurses on the wards throughout the whole hospital. There are two focus points when the palliative team has a conversation with the palliative patient. They focus on the pain of the patient and on the ‘wishes and opportunities’ of the patient to spend his or her last days. Palliative care has a stigma in South Africa because most people don’t like to talk about death. This can be quite difficult for the palliative team, but therefore it shows the importance of the team. However, palliative care in South Africa is arranged completely different compared to the Netherlands. There are often special ward or organisations for palliative patients in the Netherlands. But (for now) this is not possible in South Africa because of a lack of financial sources. I feel honoured to write my thesis about this subject because I feel I can really improve something over here!
It was a busy week for me with all the new information and the many hours I had to work on my thesis. But, obviously, I did a lot of fun things as well! I went hiking on the beautiful Groenweide Hiking Trail with a roommate, we invited Esmarie over for dinner as a little ‘thank you’ for the good care, we went for a run in the botanical garden, we went strawberry picking and we owned the biggest strawberry-farm in the southern hemisphere (it is situated in George!) in 50 minutes (which sounds quite long but was really fast). Besides this, me and the other CASO students in George went out for dinner with a couple of other interns from the UK. It was really nice to get to know them a little better and we had a nice evening! And last but not least; we went horseback riding in Wilderness National Park, which was truly amazing because we had a wonderful view.