Restorative post after meeting with Flavia

With this blog post, I hope to bring renewed energy to my mind. The first exam could not have gone better. I now am preparing for my epidemiology examination. In this spirit, I am blogging to rejuvenate.

Sometimes the universe dishes out gifts to you that keep you going and strengthen your focus. Could today have been such a day? At lunch time I went to the Cape Town Convention center where I had a the privilege of eating with one my mentors, Flavia. Flavia came from home to attend a physicians training conference and she invited me to come see her.

Initially, I doubted the possibility of us meeting, because a member of the security ushered me to the periphery of the conference, since I had no tag. He did, I must admit, allow me to watch from a distance that would allow Flavia to spot me as the conference doors swing open and she walked. And this is exactly how she found me. I did not need to call her, thankfully. What happened next was a fine example of social capital at work – she took to the lunch area and we ate, I as her guest.

Eating with her brought back certain memories. The first was of course the HIV Clinicians’ Society of Namibia. I joined her and her colleagues at the time as a volunteer to help the constitution and the website come and running. The second memory was of my late grandmother. When she was sick, I leveraged my link with Flavia to find out if we could find a doctor for her in the private health sector who could see her. There was no vacillation in Flavia’s help, she referred me to her colleague , who practices in the north of Namibia.

As is custom in Namibia, her colleague asked me what it was I was studying here. I explained to her to the best of my ability that I was going to simulate the HIV epidemic in South Africa using a mathematical model. Once I had established that, I then elaborated on what would be new to this simulation – the inclusion of MSM in  the model. To wrap up, I emphasized how the simulation would inform us on how different interventions may work together – synergize – to avert HIV infections in the population. No one dropped an eyelid at my mention of MSM. Did I have any reason to believe they would? I do not think either physician would treat the subject of male-male sex as a taboo. They are excellent doctors, that is why I expect they would understand how important my line of research is.

As I write this I rededicate myself to this research project and I wonder if there is any other more creative way to describe what I do. Were I to write an essay about this, what would I say? How would the essay differ depending on whether I wrote it for a public health audience or a lay audience. Perhaps I should think carefully about this and consider entering the essay competition of public health interventions, using PrEP as the intervention that has the potential to stop HIV transmission.

Our lunch truly was delectable. Spinach quiche and rucola as a salad. Their grilled butternut, zucca, rocket,rucolamozzarella, and roasted pomodori, was not bad, but the quiche was better. It so happens that I did not broach the subject of how my own health is and my suspicions that I may feat I have a mysterious gastric disease that have self-diagnosed myself with. Flavia was my doctor as a child and now as an adult she has seen me about once. Yet I wanted to keep the atmosphere almost collegiate and not have to ask her to wear he doctor’s white coat when speaking with me.

The lunch was great. I feel invigorated again.



About writinghealth

Wannabe Epidemiologist? Wannabe med anthro person? I guess. Christian, scientist (not Christian scientist), i mean like I studied molecular biology and I part of the RC Church. I also completed a Masters of Public Health, at the University of Cape Town, in Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
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