Ando con el tigre

Another week in the hospital down, 2 left to go. This week I was in the surgery area of the emergency department and it was fun although at times nerve-wracking. I think I’ve found the fastest paced area of the hospital. The surgery area sees most patients with urgent medical needs that come to the hospital as well as anyone who comes in complaining of abdominal pain. This did not stop the doctors from allowing me to be a part of helping out. I was often asked to follow with a patient to the examination room and observe or perhaps review the patient after the doctor did so. I was also present for many times in which doctors were stitching up wounds on patients, cutting the string or handing instruments to them when asked. When urgent patients arrived, I was often quickly called on to help lift a patient into a bed or push a stretcher to another area of the hospital.

In this department, patients were brought in quickly, diagnosed, and sent out or to another area of the hospital quickly. Doctors’ notes were shorter and messier than I had ever seen in order to get to the next patient sooner. After the shift change each morning (which usually meant an hour of transferring patient information to the next set of doctors), people had accumulated outside to be seen by the 3 new doctors, meaning a perpetual backup in the AM hours. Upon returning in from teaching English class in the afternoon, the doctors had caught up and it had grown much calmer. 

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I was lucky to meet a group of medical students from Spain this week in the surgery department. They made me one of their own even though I am far less advanced medically than they are and not as great at Spanish either. In the more tranquil afternoons, it was interesting talking to them about Nicaragua and their comparable experiences since arriving about 2 weeks after I did. Several of them even wanted to practice their English with me which was quite advanced, about as practiced as my Spanish is. On Friday, we kept hanging out after the shift got out and I grabbed a smoothie near the city’s central park with my new amigos.

After I went to help on the retreat last weekend with my host family, I thought I would be even more tired this week. However, I decided that it would benefit me to sleep in an extra hour in the morning. I showed up at 8 every day this week which is when most of the doctors started seeing patients anyways. This extra hour made all the difference and my energy level and Spanish ability was much more functional than the previous week.

The rest of my experience in Nicaragua is fighting to become routine. I say fighting because it hasn’t succeeded yet. Waking up, showering, brushing my teeth is routine here now. Even grabbing a bolsita de mango or a cosa del horno from a street vendor for breakfast has become fairly commonplace. But then I’ll nearly get splashed on my bike as someone throws water out of their house. Or perhaps a doctor come in with a watermelon and start serving me and the other doctors as we’re seeing patients. Or perhaps I’ll wake up to the gorgeous sunrise behind a horizon silhouetted with volcanoes as I did this weekend. And then I’ll remember that Nicaragua is not the norm in my life even though I could certainly live here. One of my English students asked me if I’m excited to go home in just a couple weeks now and I answered “No.” I miss a ton of people back home but I’m not ready to stop learning and experiencing the surprises that Nicaragua brings daily.

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