Bara Snapshots Vol 3: Friends & Final Edition

As I approach the end of my first month as a community service officer (COSMO), it’s time to close chapters and look forward. I used to hear ex-Bara interns talking about this place that had put them through so much with such fondness. I still think there’s an element of legitimate Stockholm Syndrome there but some wonderful friendships were formed that I am unlikely to forget:

This is the upbeat personal edition of Thank Yous or whatever. In remembering the terrible times, I got a better look at the lights that helped me find my way. You didn’t have to be there but you were. It’s also basically a photo gallery so even those who weren’t there can enjoy something. I might get a little emotional in this one. You’ve been forewarned.

Something happens in the corridors around the first few months of internship. You initially think you’re struggling alone, you glimpse support every now and then but you daren’t think it’s a regular occurrence. I call it speed therapy: the act of 3 or more interns furiously regaling frustrations or offering help, usually at the Big intersection of corridor. You can spot this phenomenon because the humans are often clutching heavy files/forms/blood samples and the occasional wheelchair. It was the first sign that we were becoming a team in the bigger sense of it. And the beginning of many unexpected friendships.

The life threatening two women trips for life changing curry in the evening (the boys were stuck in the ward) that ended in friendship and doek transactions. The same friend who, after crossing to the Promised Land that is 2nd year internship, came to find me when I was stuck with 10 discharges and proceededthsgmsat down to do them with me. The blood has tuts because some colleagues had never seen a butterfly illustrating our converging backgrounds and training exposure in the name of Teamwork.

The a drip shuffle: There’s a look on a colleagues face when multiple drip attempts have defeated them. How you know it’s a Drip Shuffle is that this human is usually joined by another colleague (or 2) whose help they’ve enlisted. If you are joining the shuffle, you head over with a box of increasingly small jelcos and you each take a literal stab at it. Jelcos are the part of the drip/IV that stays inside your skin while the lines and fluids deliver the good stuff. It’s not unusual to hear “does she need this drip?” midway, followed by a defeated “vancomycin” and a collective groan. My friends joined my drip shuffle and sometimes the drip shuffle introduced me to friends.

I made friends who introduced me to yoga, did an excellent job not laughing out loud throughout this exercise then bringing chocolates (multiple) to yoga on my birthday because “balance”. This friend also really enjoys your post-call psychosis (which she laughed at freely) and is one of the hardest working humans alive.

Something is very wrong with people’s ability to give directions at Bara. While some of the blame lies squarely on the sheer size of the place (It’s the largest hospital in the Southern Hemisphere and 3rd largest in the world depending on how recently you google this) but when everyone describes this pizza place as “just down the road” (read: 10km, including a stint on the highway and several turns away) you have to start questioning everything. This pizza place sparked another friendship that started on one of those Speed Therapy sessions or a late night corridor chat or 3. Next thing you know you’ve eaten lots of food, have attended a beginner’s photography class and are planning a holiday together (where you’ll put those skills to use). they were good directions after all.

Blood bank: a confusing mix of tedious frantic relief is a weird place. Because being there is the start of blood transfusion in one way or another and given the blood shortage in South Africa, it’s almost always a necessary life-saving measure. In short: one of your patients is sick. But because of the high demand of status of such a resource (blood) and the necessary though bureaucratic accompanying papaerwork this entails, you will wait. This allows for some time to catch your breathe, organise your life, eat (yup) or chat with colleagues you otherwise speed past in the corridors. There’s also no nap like a bloodbank nap in the middle of a busy because you’re doing something urgent while sitting (and the whirring hum of the machines can be oddly soothing). I’ve made some blood bank friends and memories but one girl who I complimented on her fabulous shirt and scarf game is now a literal fave whose basically a Pinterest board come to life, hostess with the dutch-oven (look it up) moistest, impeccable taste in gin (and everything really) and a reliable source of hearty laughter.

All of the Black Girl Magic friends who lend you crazy socks so you can participate in the photoshoot you planned but never got to execute because the call got lit somehow and you also have to leave after contracting a violent (and sudden) form of gastroenteritis from a little patient. Thanks friend-colleagues for being cool about having to unceremoniously drip me in the middle of the lit call and giving me metoclopramide (an anti-emetic) that was doomed to fail spectacularly. I’ve now attend concerts and traded hairspray (and vacation ideas) with some of these humans because of course. I’ve attended a luncheon for and by us that reaffirmed everything I believe about the beauty of black female friendship: a source of solace, safety, fortitude, beauty and inspiration.

Shout out to the foodies club aka team Robertson spice: what started as fancy food morphed into something beautiful and necessary and though we’d all met before I feel like we truly met around some fancy table or other (or perhaps in the fires of Obstetrics). Thank you For the fun, the food and the fab. Friends who insisted they be regular features on my #QuestForBeauty

To corridor girl-crushes turned ice cream dates that moved next door and become dinner dates. Friends who meticulously write with a ruler, sketch wounds in calligraphy pen and will one day hold tiny human organs with equal care. Fabulous (multiple) earrringed friends that magically offer up holiday accommodation for your last minute road trip to another province (this was somewhere around the 3rd petrol price hike so that mattered immensely). Friendly Close Personal Friends who tried to coach me through dating debacles: we formed a friendship entirely out of corridor, cafeteria and voice note catch ups banter (and that one Harry porter quiz invite that never rematerialised) and once volunteering to ouch a wheelchair uphill for me.

Actually, shout out to every human made who pushed a wheelchair uphill for me, I’ll probably work you into my will if I ever hit the big time. Whole humans you once fought with become humans you are very fond of despite the fact that you always hear “Everybody was kung-fu fighting” every time you see them (this is a shoe reference, trust me) and other assorted humans who made my time at that place not only bearable but quite special.

Marcia and Chiko: You get a special shout out because while you weren’t new friends, you got the Old Me through the fires of Becoming an Intern Adult and I couldn’t have asked for better steadfast people to be there when my life (and yours as well) was turning upside down. I’m so glad i found you in the seaside corridors (read: hills) all those years ago.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m going to miss that place (but in a rear-view mirror kind of way).

Editor’s note: the sudden rush of affection might be heightened by the fact that they were last people to actually pay me as of February 1st 2019. And I also had running water then but that’s another post entirely.

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