Today was a great day at work! This week we have a surgery team here from Indiana, and today was the triage day. We left for work at 6:45 and I just got back home. That may seam like a long day, but actually we got done earlier today than we have the previous 2 triage days I've worked on.
Wayne (former team coordinator who is now the executive director) gave me a lot of responsibility today and spent the day teaching me what the team coordinator does on triage day. My role is to do the scheduling for surgery. After the patients see the doctor, get their labs done, and sign their concent form they came to my desk and I figured out when they could have surgery. Wayne walked me through the first ones then really let me take it and run with it. He stayed at the desk for awhile, so I could ask him random questions, but then after awhile he left to work on other things and I got to do it on my own.
We had random translators around the room that I could call over when I needed to explain things to the patient. If I just had to tell them a date and time I could do that on my own, but some of the patients had to be given medicine and more specific pre-op directions, so it was handy having the translators around. Two of the translators were Geronimo (a local pastor) and Sonja (who volunteers at the clinic in the medical bodega) who were both there to translate K'iche' (Mayan language) to Spanish. Even though neither of them speak any English I could speak enough Spanish to explain to them what the patients needed to know and they could go into more detailed explanation. I feel like these past few weeks I have gotten really close to a lot of our Guatemala staff even though there is a huge language barrier. I am obviously closer to the Guatemalan staff who speak English because we can talk more, but I'm always amazed by how great conversations made up of broken Spanish plus a game of charades plus some made up sign language and lots of laughter can be.
This is going to be an extremely hectic week, but surgery week is always one of my favorites. I get to watch random surgeries and also see all the patients that are getting great medical care. We have 3 students in our school getting surgery and also Archy's brother and Jose's niece. It's a different feeling having a personal relationship with the patients having surgery. They are putting so much trust into our organization and the doctors on the team. It amazes me every time.
On a side note here are a few things I did last week that I don't want to forget (remember that I'm using this blog as a personal journal also).
- Went to the San Antonio clinic for the first time. Cheryl goes down to San Antonio every Thursday and I had been wanting to go with her one week. I realized it was my last opportunity to go (since she is leaving the same time I am), so I went Thursday. The staff bus picked us up in Pana then we wrapped around the lake and drove to another village about 2 1/2 hours away. I have been heading about how horrible the drive was from everyone, but it really wasn't that bad. However, I do think the fact that Cheryl brought her 2 cute little pups helped. They both sat in my lap the entire time and were extra cute that day. When we got to the clinic I started helping with patient triage. I organized a lot of the patient folders and found the correct ones when the patients came in. A lot of the patients in San Antonio have problems knowing their correct names, so they are given numbers. They would bring in their card with their number on it then I would find their folders. I also helped take their height and weight.
After awhile it slowed down, so I did some work on my computer. My Claro internet stick wasn't working, so I ended up editing the video I'm working on to show people back home about Guatemala. Every once in awhile some of the staff would walk in and look at the video and the pictures with me. I would explain why I was making it and they loved looking at all the pictures. They would ask me the silliest questions about them and then we would laugh so hard at my trying to answer them in Spanish. Again such a great time getting to know the staff.
Also on the way back to Pana we stopped at a spot on the road where when you put the car in neutral it would roll backwards even though it clearly looks like you are pointing downhill. Seriously... google it (I actually just did... Wikipedia calls it a "gravity hill"). This is what Wikipedia says about it: A gravity or magnetic hill is a place where a slight downhill slope appears to be an uphill slope due the layout of the surrounding land, creating the optical illusion that water flows uphill or a car left out of gear will roll uphill, among others. Many of these sites have no specific name and are instead often simply referred to as 'Gravity Hill' or 'Magnetic Hill'. (It's on Wikipedia... it must be true).
- On Friday I went to Guatemala City with Cheryl and Jim. Jim was going to the airport to fly back to Texas for a couple of weeks before meeting Cheryl in Honduras when they move at the end of the month. I decided to tag along because Cheryl said that we could go to Walmart. Also I am just always up for trips and exploring new things, so I was really excited at the thought of exploring the city more. Victor (a bombero in Camanchaj who drove us to San Antonio the day before) drove one of our company cars and after we dropped off Jim at the airport we headed to Walmart. It really looked exactly like a Walmart in the States. Even though I am going home in a couple of weeks I stalked up on toiletrie items that I knew would I would just buy in the States and have to carry down in August. I also bought a few kitchen items we needed and a DVD player. There is never anything on TV here (mainly because most of the channels are in Spanish), so I got a DVD player that you can plug a USB drive into. You can buy black market DVD's here for really cheap in the market and also Dave (another volunteer in town) can download movies for free onto your hard drive. It will be much appreciated next year when I'm working a lot from Pana (I do better with background noise all the time).
After Walmart we went to Pricemart which actually looks and sells the exact same things as Sams. It reminded me of shopping at the Refuge. If only I had Ian and Tyler there with me to help me shop.
- Saturday Cheryl (I'm really going to miss her when she's gone!) and I took a boat across the river to Santiago Atitlan because I had a gift I wanted to get for someone that I've only ever seen in that village. The lake was the calmest I've ever seen it in the morning. We only stayed there for about an hour, but it was worth the trip because it was so beautiful yesterday. When we got back to Pana we stopped at The Patio to eat lunch then went to Pana Super. I feel like I have become really close to her lately and I am going to really miss her when she's gone.
- David and Barbara are heading back to the States tomorrow morning. They will be in Maine until next November then return to Pana. I am going to miss having them upstairs. It's always so much fun being able to just run upstairs and see what they are up to (which usually includes them acting out plays or singing to their parrot).