Adventures in Navigating the Rwandan Health Care System


In true Enoch fashion it has taken me only three short weeks to sustain some type of injury (although please keep in mind that I am not the first person from my group to visit the doctors in Kigali- there is a boy here now that came two days ago- so that must count for something). The summary of my injury is this: there is an obscene amount rain in Rwanda that leads to a constant coating of mud on all the roads and hills by my house. As a consequence of a small mishap with said mud and a patch of concrete I have managed to injure my left wrist (yes this is the same wrist and same spot as my injury last year). When I noticed that my wrist was rather swollen and disfigured I called my friend Michele to come have a look just to make sure I wasn’t being a major baby. We decided I should probably call my PCMO in Kigali, and after hearing the description he wanted me to come into Kigali right away. A Peace Corps driver and Moop, my program manager, drove with me and dropped me off at the Peace Corps office in Kigali. My doctors decided we should head on over to the hospital so off we went- it was quite the adventure! Both doctors came with me and I was very fortunate that Dr. Elite used to work at this particular hospital for two years and it never hurts to have connections! 🙂

They took a few sets of x-rays and decided the ulna bone was dislocated. One of the initial suggestions was to reset the arm but they insisted I be under general anesthesia. As you can imagine this suggestion was not too well received. After the x-rays we waited a few hours for a hand surgeon to come look at the films to give his opinion. My doctors informed me that should the arm need to be reset it would be done at the main Peace Corps medical facility in South Africa and not here in Rwanda. While I sat and waited for a couple of hours I observed some rather interesting facets of the Rwandan health care system that I will elaborate on some other time (although keep in mind my doctor said it is the best system in East Africa and perhaps one of the best in all of Africa). When the surgeon arrived he had a whole other theory about my arm and decided there was no dislocation but there was a fracture. This theory was heavily debated and as of now we are not exactly sure what is going on. This doctor was very nice, although when he found out that I am 22 and not married he told me I better hurry up. By this point it was almost midnight, I was exhausted, had not had any access to pain medication, and was less than thrilled with his comments. My wonderful doctors stepped in to defend me and reassured the kind surgeon that 22 was in fact young and I had plenty of time left to find a husband. So, after all this, they decided to stabilize my arm with a cast (the bottom portion is plaster and the top is bandages so that there is room to keep swelling without cutting off circulation). My doctor is a tad suspicious of the local diagnosis, and while he supports the theory that there is fracture in my hand, he believes that the ulna is also dislocated and may need to be reset in South Africa. They have sent all of my information to doctors in both Washington and South Africa and we will hopefully hear back from them on Monday. For now I am living in the infirmary in Kigali and the doctors are taking very good care of me. I am a little sad because the group is taking a trip to the National Museum tomorrow that I will miss, but I am sure that I will see it at some point during my time here. All of my wonderful friends back at training are sending me lovely text messages and doing a superb job of keeping me positive and happy! Nate, the other member of my group who is injured, and I are going to dinner tonight at a restaurant that has internet so I am hoping to post this blog and maybe some more pictures in a couple of hours! I haven’t had too much time to process all of this, but here are some thoughts so far:



• My cast stabilizes my left wrist and thumb and I have discovered that movements like buttoning jeans and putting my hair up are really easier with two thumbs

• I have only one outfit with me that is now starting to smell questionable

• I am missing fun things back home with my group and I missed a language progress test on Saturday that I will now need to make up somehow

• Strong pain medication should not be taken on an empty stomach



• I took a shower (kind of) and spent thirty minutes washing my feet. Are they now sparkling clean? No. But at least they are no longer brown.

• I am sleeping in a very comfortable bed

• I can use actual toilets- a wonderful break from latrines!

• Tonight I will get to eat in a real restaurant in Kigali- pretty exciting!

• My doctors are awesome and really fun to talk with which is good because I am spending lots of time with them!


Pleased do not be worried, my Peace Corps doctors are fabulous and taking very good care of me. If you happen to speak with either of my parents please do your best to reassure them that they do not need to purchase a ticket to Rwanda- I am really fine and doing very well! 🙂


4 responses »

  1. Suzi,
    Sorry to hear that your wrist decided to pull an “Enoch” and break/dislocate. At least BJ isn’t there to punch and re-injure it again.

    As far as the smell of the clothes, do you want scented bug spray. “Eternity,” by Deep Woods Off, now with 98% deet. As far as marriage and your age, just tell them your older sister, just turned 30 and is single.

    Please do not injure yourself again just to get a night out on the town.

    Thank you for all the updates, I wasn’t sure how often we would get to hear from you, so the blog is awesome.

    Take care and mend well.

  2. Suz! This is great. I laughed a little when you said your outfit was smelling questionable.
    Im sad about your wrist. But really, not surprised in the least. Your poor wrists! and arms in general! I hope it does start to feel better soon.
    I suppose since you are so far behind in the game you should hurry up and marry someone you meet in Kigali. 🙂 Thanks for writing, keep it up! I miss you already!

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