Monday, May 21, 2007

El Salvador-Operation Walk and how I did Bikram yoga for 8 days

El Salvador was hot. and hard. and a really good thing all at the same time. i got the weather forcaste just one day and then i didn't look again. it was 92 degrees with 70% humidity. i've never sweated like that before in my life! the heat was the hardest part of the week. we fortunately had fans that helped a bit, but still, every day i couldn't wait to be back in the relative (i say relative b/c it mostly worked) AC of our hotel room. we did 63 joints in 3 and a half days in only 3 operating rooms. that's a heck of a lot! on an average day here a surgeon uses 2 rooms and does maybe 3-4 joints. in a day. we did 63!! we helped so many people, it was a blessing to see them all walk. one of the best stories was a woman who had only walked 6-8 feet for the past many years. after surgery, she walked the 100 feet to the bathroom. we sent her home with a walker and hopefully many more years of walking ahead of her. most of our patients were over 60 years old, but then that's normal. mostly women. again that's also normal. the all spoke only spanish. th efirst day my spanish felt really shakey, but by the final day i was thinking in spanish again. i had a blast, and i learned a whole boatload of new words- medical words that i am happy to have added to my vocabulary. i worked on the recovery side for the patients after surgery. everyone got a couple bags of blood to speed their recovery, a couple were pretty dehydrated. but for the most part we had no real medical problems with the recoveries. it went very smoothly. i realized what a huge thing we were doing down there while i was there. i mean, operating on that many people is a huge deal-it takes so much work, from the pre operation time to the going home time it takes a lot of medical people to make the operation happen. i was blessed to be on the end part where i got to see the outcome of the surgery and the gratefullness of the patients. it was very satisfying work, if hard. we were really running b/c 63 joints means a lot of patients to take care of. wednesday was the hardest day b/c that was the final operating day- the day we had the most number of ppl in our wards. but somehow they all got dressing changes, pain medications, and IV fluids. and somehow they all were happy the entire time.

still, eric has phrased it best for me. it was one of those things that while i was doing it, i wasn't exactly psyched the entire time. in fact it was so hard that sometimes i wanted to quit and leave. my feet hurt so much by the end of the day i was limping like the patients. my head hung on the verge of a dehydration head ache from the moment i woke till i went to bed. even with 4 liters of water a day. i just sweat that much. but now that i am back, comfortable again, i am very glad i did something like this. maybe in the moment i wasn't glad, or happy or even very energetic. but after the fact, i wouldn't have missed it for anything and plan on going with Operation Walk again next year. it was a complete success and the beginning of hopefully, many more missions like this for me. what i've always really wanted to do with my nursing career is set upa clinic in a third world country, preferably south america, and help the ppl in that kind of setting. my plan before getting married was to head on down somewhere and start that up. i wouldn't give up being married of course, but i am waiting to see how God directs both eric and me into a season of serving the third world population. i am pushing for Operation Walk to go to south america next year, and perhaps make some contacts for me personally while there. i believe we are in salt lake for a time yet though, i am not impatient yet.

these pictures are out of order and i can't make blogger turn my vertical pictures upright, so yo u'll have to turn your head instead. we did get 2 afternoons of relaxation- one at a local doctor's beach house and the last afternoon on a sort of tour bus. both were good, yet harda t the same time b/c of the vast differences in where we had just been and where we were standing- like at the beach or by a big affluent household.

i had to make up this IV pole. we ran out of almost everything down there- syringes, anti-nausea meds, iv poles, blood tubing, ace wraps, sheets, etc. so i took the opportunity to use this shelf and the patient's belonging bag to make a wedge to hang the bag in. it worked quite well!

we had one afternoon of rest time which we spent at a local doctor's beach house. it was shocking to walk into this world of beach, sand, an infinite pool, and an abundance of food having come straight from the hospital. lest you think doctors actually make that much more down there, this man actually works 3 weeks of every month in LA. that's he actually affords this house.

this was the last day passing out meds for all the patients to take home. this was a total organization head ache. the pills were in individual packets that had the english description on the back, or worse, the "medical word". so none of the spanish speaking patients would know what "vicodin" was. but worse than that, the actual pill packet said "hydrocodone". now how were they supposed to know that pill was what they were to take for strong pain? so i had to try do describe them. but hydrocodone is white, and so is apririn and tylenol, and they were all handed out to the patient in a little ziplock. so i ended up writing things on a piece of paper for them to take home, translating hydrocodone into vicodin and showing them the packet. i hope they take the right pills! another example- iron. also known was ferrous sulfate. in spanish this is "ferroso sulfato". but most ppl don't know that that means iron, even in the united states! so i ended up writing"the green pill, take it once a day with meals".

El Salvador's Crater Lake. the final day we had the afternoon off to "tour". there isn't a lot to tour in el salvador. but we made it to some mayan ruins and to this lovely lake. what a world of contrast- here lived the rich- the owners of phone companies, beer companies, senators and the like. and we had just come from serving the poor. it was a week of contrast.

at one point (when we had the most post-op patients) the beds were crammed in so tightly you couldn't walk between them. i had to get into bed with the patient to take her blood pressure. that box in the background is the wall for our make-shift bathroom. the real bathroom was some 100 feet away, and for someone with a newly replaced joint, that's a long way. it was taking us 15 minutes for a round trip to the bathroom with each patient. so we took a commode and built a bathroom in the ward- with a box, a taped up dust pan, and a sheet. we got pretty resourceful down there!

this was during visiting hours, the room got really packed with all the family members (if it wasn't hot already, it sure heated up then!)

the final day, walking a patient outside for some air. she can walk!

one of the three inpatient wards

the nurses (some from Utah some from LA) and one translator (on the right)

another shot of the patient ward, the patients were absolutely packed in there!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Pilsner, the not-so-lap-dog

Eric keeps trying to hold Pilsner in his lap; Pilsner isn't the biggest fan of the lap though. He's almost 7 months!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Desert Fun

The past couple of weekends have been spent in the desert climbing. we went to indian creek over the 21rst, met sam higby and friend marci, and had a grand time climbing. we eventually got rained out, you never know with that desert weather! at least this time we didn't have to dig our way out of our campsite. great campfires, s'mores, friends, and climbing. it was a great weekend. i think i worked a little that week :) and the next weekend my friend Tracy and i blasted down for a one day stint at the fischer towers, climbing a little corkscrew tower called Ancient Art. it was the most exposed climb i've ever done, but so much fun. tracy and i felt so proud of ourselves for doing that climb all on our own- just a girl team. it's so easy to go climb with 'the boys' and have them lead everything and basically take you climbing. but when you climb with another girl it's either you or her, and that's a fun decision! we blasted down sunday night and spent the night in the back of our subaru, climbed early the next morning and were back in salt lake city in time for tracy to take a final at 6 pm. it was such a wonderful weekend!!

it was back to work again this week, but, weather permitting, katie and i will be going down to grand junction, colorado this weekend to climb the colorado national monument via otto's route.

eric is through with school, hurray! we are waiting to hear back from a black diamond interview. man, i hate waiting! this is a huge decision, and you can't make head or tails of your next few months until you know about a job. i am more anxious than eric though, as i would love for him to have this job. we'll see....

i am going to buy a dog house for pilsner right now. he's getting pretty big. today i went to the pet store to buy more food for him and they were all out. or rather, they had recalled all the DRY dog food of my brand (natural choice puppy food). that's kinda scary when you realize your dog just ate an entire bag. but he isnt' dead (yet) so maybe he'll pull through this one.

el salvador is just a week and a half away!!!!

Tracy and I before our climb of Ancient Art 5.9, A0 Fischer Towers, Utah

Me leading the second pitch chimney on Ancient Art

Me across the narrow 'sidewalk', thinking about jumping up on that diving board- the classic "jump and hump" move on the climb- it was scary!

half way up the to the summit

me on the tiny summit!!

a daring one foot stance....

the entire climb- you can just see the tiny cork screw against the sky. we were up there!!!

Me leading Chocolate Corner, 5.9 Indian Creek, Utah. That's Coby belaying me, Sam bending over, and Marci in the foreground

Coby and I with the rain rolling in down the canyon

Sam, Eric, and Coby doing a little dance around camp

The one bathroom in the whole valley, and me, waiting patiently....