The weeks are going by fast here in Leon. I’m two posts behind due to busyness over last weekend and no Internet most of the week. So here’s what happened last week:
It was an educational week for me with more of the information and observation and less of the practice. On Monday, my English student nurses took me to Managua again for the second half of the hospital care conference that I had been to with them before. I learned about CPR and pain in patients. At one point, during an interactive part of the conference, the speakers passed into the crowd to have audience members answer their questions. My Spanish has been improving more and more but in that moment, as I sat on the very last seat in my row on the middle aisle, I forgot it all. I was panicking on the inside as the speaker walked towards me with the microphone and… stopped at the person immediately in front of me. I was saved from having to answer some medical question in Spanish in front of hundreds of people. When the conference came to a close, I was given an certificate for my participation. I’m official.
The rest of the week, I was moved to the Pediatrics area of the ER. The doctors were generally nice there but didn’t jump at opportunities to show me their examination techniques or let me help them. I usually ended up weighing patients, sticking thermometers in their armpits, and fetching things for the doctors. But with my notebook always at the ready, I took advantage of my time there by writing down many medications and techniques I saw used. Two real emergencies came into the pediatric area over the course of one hour on one day in the middle of the week. With one, a boy showed signs of head and neck trauma after falling off a bus. The other was a girl who had been convulsing for more than 30 minutes without responding. I helped in these cases by handing the doctors something when they asked for it and generally staying out of the way. There also happened to be another person from the US in the room observing at the time, a resident doctor from Duke, and she was able to help tell me what the doctors were doing for the patients and how it would be different in a hospital in the US. I found out that one of the major difference is that this hospital does not have a CT scanner. The closest one is an hour and a half away in Managua which is where they sent the boy with head trauma.
Two days this week I was also invited by a group of 6th year medical students and their teacher to go to a seminar in the medical school building adjacent to the hospital. I gladly went and, although 6th year medical students have far more knowledge of medicine than I do at this point, I was able to understand well and take notes on the topics of growth and development and seizures in pediatric patients.
English classes continue to go well. There had been several nurses who stopped coming completely due to the demands of their departments so the two classes per day were combined into one. This helps me out because it means I have an extra hour to help downstairs in emergency and don’t have to prepare for two different classes each day. I can’t understate how great these nurses are to me either. They continue to take turns bringing me a small snack every day and they’ve somehow worked out a deal to get me a free lunches from the hospital cafeteria. They always ask me how it’s going in the hospital and if I ever have any type of problem or question, I can come to them and they always work things out for me. They love to laugh and make fun of each other and me during English class and I’ve become comfortable enough to give it back just a little bit. I’ve tried to make English classes as interesting as I can for them, throwing in fun US cultural facts and dedicating every Friday to teaching nursing terms in English.
The days are long here. I still arrive at the hospital at 7am but don’t leave until between 3 and 4 when the doctors’ shift ends. In the evening I haven’t had any rest either while helping my host family prepare frantically for a retreat for the weekend. I’m also preoccupied with medical school applications, for which I’ve reached the second round and have begun writing essays in my free time. And the weather here is exhausting, the heat and dust nearly always bearing down on us. They tell me there’s a drought going on in Nicaragua making it an extra hot summer for us. I believe it. I keep finding strength though because I know my days here are limited and I want to be taking advantage of every moment.