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Published: April 8th 2017
Conference starts at 8:30 after breakfast. I slept poorly with some mild anxiety of unclear origin, probably somewhat related to the struggles of the surgery. I don't like not being my best, the best, and it's hard to be hindered by the environment. I need to get over myself already.
So many interesting cases are presented. Gun shots, polio, infections, delayed presentations of congenital abnormalities. We see a case of hydatid disease- pretty much cystic tapeworm
Infestation of the body, often fatal and extremely difficult to treat. Think: cysts full of tapeworm eggs that burst and clog up important organs. Takes a lot to gross me out, but... yuck. I find out there are three foot and ankle specialists in the entirety of Iraq. I meet one from Baghdad who hopes to come shadow me at Stanford and we exchange information.
I also run into the general surgeon with polio that I had seen Thursday night in clinic. He wants to come to Stanford for his surgery. I tell him it will be very expensive - he says he can afford it. We exchange info as well.
Lunch is held... on
Saddam Hussein's old house boat. Yup. Unreal. I sit on Saddam Hussein's bed. We travel through the secret door to the hidden passageway to the safe chambers. There are 12 bedrooms. We then take a boat tour down the river. The river has many sunken ships, casualties of war, and lots of garbage. The day is perfect for the boat ride and we spend it on the front deck. We see Saddam's old palace and even his bedroom. We see some rich houses, somewhere near the $5 million price I'm told. I find out the lot across from Ali's house is going for $1.2 million. It's equivalent to a lot in Detroit, off of a terribly kept road and filled with trash. Where is this $ coming from?
Ali talks to me more about being an Orthopaedic surgeon in Basrah. Iraq has a public and private system. Most surgeons work in both. Ali works in the public system from 8am- 2pm and the private from 4pm-8pm. They receive salary as well as payment for the surgeries, much less in public system. Ultimately, he's much happier where he is now: When Saddam was alive, his monthly salary was
After the boat ride we wrap up the conference. I lead the last session and we have good discussion and share difficult cases. We wrap around 9pm and head back to the same restaurant for dinner. Before we leave, 4 police cars arrive and 10-12 Iraq soldiers in camo and machine guns pour out and surround a few obviously important people and they all run in the building en mass. The whole thing goes down in about 20 seconds. A bit of a reality check that things here probably aren't always safe as they appear. It turns out the guest was the Minister of City Planning.
After dinner we stop by a sweets shop, and despite my best efforts, I try one and end up having three or four. So damn good. Baklava-esc with phyllo soaked in honey and pistachios, crunchy and sugary and simply amazing. Sleep comes easy tonight.
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