I wish our country Kenya would have special teachers day in order to celebrate teachers, better still the international teachers day be made a public holiday as well. Several countries around the world celebrate teachers by having a special teachers day. Some of them that celebrate it in May are South Korea, Mexico and Malaysia. Teachers are unsung heroes.
Teachers play a very vital role in our lives. I remember how some would impart skills like good handwriting , hard work etc. My primary school teacher Mrs Mbogo taught us handwriting until i was in Standard 8. Imagine a 14 year old still practicing how to cross my Ts and Fs. She would patiently mark our writing books and give comments on how to improve.
I would like to remember some of my other teachers. I studied at Makerere University in Undergrad and Postgrad in Anaesthesia . I recall how in Post grad our lecturers were so very dedicated. We would have lunch together on Thursdays as a group-paid for my someone in the department. Our head of department Dr Tindimwebwa ( we used to call him Tindi) and his very good friend Dr Mijumbi were ALWAYS around ( always with capital and underlined for emphasis) . I used to fear them in undergrad but once i joined M Med anaesthesia they were not so scary any more once you understood them. If you called them stuck whether in ICU in the middle of the night or in an theatre stuck they would show up. In class they always came so prepared to listen to our presentations and would really challenge us. I remember at times after you are done with your presentation, Dr Mijumbi would also hook his laptop onto the projector and give a very comprehensive summary. He would watch us argue about certain things in class and would just watch the intellectual discussion . When we were stuck we would look at him and he would finally give us the answer - very calmly I might add. Tindi would be so prepared when coming to class. He even had a small old notebook in his coat which he would refer and look at it very closely and say." by the way, you haven't mentioned this.... " or say " what about this..." That notebook had everything- i wonder whether he still keeps it in his coat. It would only come out briefly to be referred to and get back to safety in his pocket. Its like he had an encyclopedia in his head. He could quote stuff from Millers- ( a very big anaesthesiology book ) and even tell you the version incase you are stuck. We used to say he had "Datas", because even data is not pleural enough.
Then there was John Mark and Ejoku. They made anaesthesia so cool. They never ever panicked even if the surgeon cut the biggest artery ever. They seemed so calm. They also loved cartoons and many times after work we would watch Tom and Jerry. They loved anaesthesia. Ejoku is quiet soul but so dedicated to his work- he made me want to do anaesthesia when i was in 4th year medical school. He was so meticulous and a very patient teacher. John Mark on the other hand was a loud and happy man. He has a very infectious personality and made anaesthesia so much more bearable for patients and me. He always had cool gospel music in his laptop which he would listen to. He made me love pain management and regional anaesthesia. We used to hunt for blocks with him. Mark knew where all the nerves are and could do blocks even the most difficult ones. He showed me how to do them by mapping them where they are, using a nerve stimulator as well as ultrasound. Come to think of it i should ask him about a block that still gives me some challenges. These 2 chaps are christian doctors and they most importantly modelled to me that being a christian - born again isn't boring and that God has called us to excellence in our service for him.
Gosh i have so much to say about many of my teachers, but there can't be enough space to say everything.
I was fortunate to go for an elective term in Canada- University of British Columbia. I have had many anaesthesiologist and other doctors who have been part of my training and helped shape who I am today. I'm forever grateful for the lessons they taught me, the values they imparted in me. Some of them it was very intensional. There is a lot of learning one gets just by watching them. If I had space I would write about all of them. They are all special in their own ways. My time in UBC and Makerere were special because of them.
In a special way i would like to remember one of my teachers- the Late Prof Brian Warriner. He was a humble man with so much experience in anaesthesia and pharmacology. I remember the first time I met him in Uganda. He had come for a medical mission with some surgeons. One of my classmates had called him to assist with a difficult intubation. He had a very cool expensive gadget called a glidescope that he used to help us see as we performed the difficult procedure. He eventually managed to get one for our department in a later trip.
So when we first met him, he was very happy to come to class. We told him that we have class in the mornings at 8 am and in the evenings at 4 pm. At that time we were doing history of anaesthesia. He was so passionate about the history. He would tell us about the first time he saw different gadgets that we use today and take for grated. He would get carried away with a story of when he was in school, how when the ECG first came out- how they use to book to use it. He had endless stories and made history of anaesthesia so much fun. During that week we absorbed so much information from him and he made a promise to come back to Uganda soon.
He kept his word and kept coming back. He is one of the most brilliant people i know and was humble about it- very well read in many subjects outside medicine. When i went for my electives, we would chat about various topics- and he was so well read- what we called Learned. He had many publications to his name but that didn't seem to make him arrogant.
In Vancouver he played a vital role. He was very well respected by his colleagues and loved. I remember one day he told me he would rather give the complex cases( which you can bill more highly and make more money) to his junior colleagues so that they can get good at them, also make more. He said he was content. He would even offered to do the case that don't seem so prestigious- he had nothing to prove to anyone.
In class there was a session in the afternoon called "the hot seat". The resident whom it was their turn would seat on a chair and be given a scenario of a difficult case and they would walk through it step by step and the anaesthesiologist would create a more complex scenario as they went along. It was an interesting powerful learning tool because it made one think and have find different solutions to tackle problems. When we were in the OR we would practice different hot seat scenarios and he was not tired of me asking me lets do more. He had so many scenarios- most of them were not fictional but experiences he had had. He would always end each one with a story. I loved his stories. One skill he imparted in me is critical thinking and planning. He also modeled humility and patience.
Prof also loved books. He said he had a huge reading list and somehow there were not enough hours in the day to read. So he told me he had started listening to audiobooks during his commute to work. He also introduced me to an ebook reader because we both loved books and could't carry them every we went. I still love audiobooks to this day. Levis and I still listen to them as we drive on long trips.
As students we had large appetites. We could consume lots of food. By the way i can't try that now- even the food looking at me i feel like i'm gaining weight. Anyhow, when he used to come to Uganda, He would take the whole department out for dinner on him. On one such occasion, after dinner he paid with this card but unfortunately the visa machine was not working. So he asked me to go with his card to the ATM with his pin to withdraw the money that was needed. I'm still humbled that he trusted me to do this for him.
When i was finishing my post grad, I didn't know that he had helped me find a job in Kenya. He had called ahead to the head of department in one of the big hospitals in Nairobi to ask for job for me. I was called by the then Head Dr Munga'yi for an interview. His referral helped me get the job.
We kept in touch over the years. This year he told me about his diagnosis with cancer. He told me the last time we emailed that he will definitely miss his family- his wife, children and his 2 grand children( whom he loves to bits). He passed on and will be greatly missed by many. May God grant comfort to his family and colleagues who loved him so much. May he rest in peace.