Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Am I getting closer to wearing dentures? Decrepitude rules, grrr!

February 23rd

Up at five o’clock, well before dawn. Off to Kigali on the half past six bus with all the early commuters sleeping and yawning their way to the capital. Beautiful valley mist all the way in; last night’s rains have cleared the air again and everything looks crisp and fresh. Cool, though, in Gitarama, and I’m glad I’m wearing my fleece.

I’m in the VSO office by eight o’clock; everyone’s just arriving and surprised to see me. Bosco’s going to run me to the dentist because he knows exactly where it is and apparently it isn’t an easy place to find first time. So I have an hour to spend in the office while I wait for him to take me. There’s some documents from Saturday’s Volunteer Committee meeting I need to go through, and I arrange with Charlotte to get them to me.

I rummage through the box of left-overs from recently departed volunteers, and discover some bottles of Permethrin anti-mosquito treatment for bed nets. On Saturday we had intended to make one bottle do both my net and Tom’s, but in the event it all got absorbed into Tom’s. So now I have two treatments for mine, and we’ll see if it does the trick.

At the dentist I have a minimum wait, and am seen by two people. One is a visiting Dutch specialist who like me is a volunteer. He practises in Holland but comes to Rwanda every year for a few weeks to help train local practitioners. He does the diagnosis and briefs Petronille, who will actually treat me. The good news is that my broken tooth has not become infected and it will be relatively easy to cover up and get rid of the jagged edges. The bad news is that he says there’s quite a badly infected tooth on the other side of my mouth which is actually leaking pus. It’s going to have to come out. He will have gone back to Holland by then, so I’ll be in Petronille’s tender hands….

I have to say that she seems to do a good job on sealing the broken tooth. I have to pay for my treatment, but all in all I’m lucky to have been seen so quickly. The surgery is modern, well lit, well equipped. There’s also quite a queue of people outside waiting their turn; I’m glad I made an appointment and didn’t just turn up on spec. If the latter, I’d probably have been there all day.

Bosco’s still waiting for me, and drops me back at the VSO office. I manage to get on the internet and do some business, and Bridget comes in from her placement in the east. She’s the nearest volunteer to Gahini, where I’ll be having my birthday bash. She says there’s ten of their group coming, which means I can go ahead and definitely book the Bishop’s Palace for people to stay in. Bridget is teaching at a TTC (College of Education) very much out in the wilds; very dry, and miles from anywhere.

I return to Gitarama laden down with more books to read from the VSO library, plus a lot of “dead mail” where letters have come for volunteers after they’ve left. I’ve brought letters sent for Karen, Marisa and a couple of others, and sent them emails asking if it’s OK to destroy these old letters – almost without exception these are old bank statements. (Every time you write a cheque here the bank posts you a statement, but the thing takes about a fortnight to arrive. So it’s inevitable that when people are closing down their accounts and settling up last minute business before departure, there’s going to be a flurry of bank letters arriving just after they’ve gone).

In the afternoon I’m supposed to be contacting schools to book visits for the rest of the week, but I discover the phone system’s down yet again.

So I occupy my time finishing making a summary of a wonderful book about African financial culture which Christi has lent us. It’s a riveting read; having been here quite a while now, I can find examples from my own experience to match most of the examples the book gives. It’s the kind of background reading that new volunteers ought to have before they arrive.

Tom’s also been in Kigali today but is very late coming back, so I feed myself and the guard and then settle down to read a book for the evening. Nobody’s put any money in the meter for the outside lights at the back of the flat, which means that the steps down are a death-trap after dark. Twice in the past week I’ve almost fallen down the steps while carrying plates full of food for the guards.

Time for an early night tonight, because I need to be in the office early and phoning schools at seven tomorrow morning!

Best thing about today – getting one tooth fixed.

Worst thing – facing an extraction in a week or so’s time.

1 comment:

Cynthia said...

Denture creams, like Poligrip and Fixodent have been associated with a variety of neurologic health problems and several lawsuits have been filed by people who claim to have been sickened by these products. It is expected that many more will be filed in the coming months. There is some good information on the health and legal implications involved with this issue at: http://www.denturecreamlawyer.com/