I wanted to start off my last blog with the a picture of where I spent the last ten weeks. You see, my house is located just below the big auditorium tent, which can be seen anywhere in the city. It was kind of a cool experience to be able to tell people that I live under it and I was always able to find my way home when I was lost.
For my last week in clinical rotations and my last week in Mexico I went to ISSSTE Hospital. This hospital, unlike Hospital Civil, is private and only available for government workers. Here, I spent time in both the surgery and labor ward.
As you can see, this hospital is very similar to the upper-hand hospitals in the US. Also, because of the limited number of patients, the halls weren't clustered and the general environment was much more relaxed and calm. In Hospital Civil there were patients everywhere and all the medical staff was around everywhere to help as many patients as possible.
Here is another example of the benefits of this hospital compared to the public facilities where the majority of the population are forced to go. In ISSSTE Hospital they have enough funding to afford top-of-the-line technology, which allows patients to receive faster and better care. This is a picture of a ureteric stent procedure which used videos and tools to place a stent without cutting the patient open.
On Friday, the day before I left Mexico, my roommate and I decided to go to the Arts and Culture Museum located in Santo Domingo, the cathedral in the center of the city.
Here are some of the things we saw in the museum. The museum had everything from traditional sculptures from Monte Alban to modern art from famous local painters. These two pieces were some of my favorites.
Later that Friday the entire group met to take pictures in our lab coats. These are the future doctors of America and I am confident they will all be great doctors because of what we learned throughout this program. I am in the middle in the front row.
Here is a picture of all the men in the program with our medical director, Doctora Magali. She taught us about the common diseases in Mexico and the health system that they live in. She was a great asset to our learning experience and helped shape us in the better medical providers for the future.
As grown up as we all look in our lab coats, we had to take a goofy picture so the kids inside of us could be satisfied. Again, these are the future doctors of America haha. You can see some of the guys holding up our guys logo for the trip, three fingers down for and "M" and two fingers up for a "V". For those that haven't followed my blog, this sign stands for, "Man Van", which was a saying we used when the guys of the trip were together.
For our last evening we rented out a small fancy restaurant to enjoy one last evening with the entire group. It was a great evening of thanks and appreciation for all we were given and experienced in the last 11 weeks.
Here is a picture of my host family right before we left for the airport. They treated me like family and made the experience that much better for me. I can never thank them enough for their warmth and hospitality.
This is a birds-eye view from my plane of Monte Alban, which we visited our first week in Oaxaca and can be seen in my second blog post. It amazes me how small these ruins look now compared to how big they are when you are standing right next to them.
Here is another picture from our airplane. I thought it was cool because it shows two of the tallest peaks in Mexico and the two peaks are contrasted. The closest one seems to have a shadow covering it, making it have a dark peak. The peak that is far off in the distance is the opposite, with snow covering the top of the mountain.
I wanted to include some pictures of my wonderful family because I couldn't have had the courage or open mind to experience all that I did in Mexico without their love and support. I am so happy to be reunited with all of them after being away for almost three months. I love you all and thank you so much for all that you give me.
Here is a picture of my wonderful girlfriend and I. She surprised me with a delicious ice cream cake made especially for me. Being away for 11 weeks never is easy but with a lot of support and understanding we made it through the time with no difficulties. She has been a huge support in my quest to become a doctor and it is her and my family that give me the strength to set my goals high and pursue them. Thank you to all those who have kept me in your hearts and minds while I was gone on this adventure. In my life, I carry with me all your love and support and you all help shape who I am. I hope you all enjoyed reading my blog as much as I enjoyed making it for you. Thanks again,
Last week in paradise. What should you do?..........GO TO THE BEACH!!!!
This was our mentality since our papers were now finished, but first we had learn about domestic violence. We started off the week going to the beach, but returning in the evening to hear a lecture on domestic violence in Mexico. We did the same thing on Tuesday but also spent time preparing for our presentation to high school students which we were set to give the next day. Here is a picture of us arriving at the high school early wednesday morning.
Because it is difficult to talk about domestic violence with students who have probably seen it within their own families, we focused on the primary source of domestic violence, inequality. We had each group of tables create a poster for men and a poster for women with all the characteristic about each gender on them. Once finished, we explained the similarities between the posters and how we could have switched the men and women titles and the characteristics would have still held true. This activity was meant to challenge the uneven gender roles that persist in Mexican culture and hopefully eliminate some gender stereotypes.
Thursday was Thanksgiving, and although they do not celebrate this holiday in Mexico, our group chose to host our own thanksgiving feast and invite everyone involved in the program. The feast was a potluck and my house was in charge of making the green bean casserole. Here is a picture of me preparing the green beans.
Here is a picture of the table full of food. It was sort of an ironic thanksgiving in that we couldn't find any turkey to cook, but then saw a turkey roaming the streets near our house the next day. It was still amazing though because we had chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing, deviled eggs, gravy, rolls, and everything else related to this hungry holiday.
Here is everyone enjoying their food. The best part of the entire meal was all the wonderful desserts that people made. Of course, no one leaves room for dessert on Thanksgiving so we were stuck in these seats for a while till we were ready for round two.
Here are some more show-off pictures of the beaches we were at throughout the week. We went to the beach everyday the last week in Puerto Escondido. I don't know how we got anything done here as these beaches were right within our reach.
Here is a picture of some of us relaxing in the shade before we embark on another great day at the beach. It was nice to relax in these chairs with a coconut and a straw when you got tired of the sun. Yup, coconut on the beach....be jealous haha.
One evening we all got henna tattoos. For those of you that haven't heard about these, they are TEMPORARY (don't worry) and only last for about two week. For some reason a game started to see who could get the most ridiculous tattoos out of the group. I first went with a crab clinging to my nipple.
Next, I got the superman logo on my back because my shoulders were fried and it looked like I had a red cape on. Unfortunately, the red color of my sunburn isn't very visible in this picture. Some of the other tattoos that people got were winnie the pooh, unicorns, dalmations, and my friend paul even got dolphins on his lower back, a position commonly used with women. It was a lot of fun at the moment but when I look at these tattoos now I am thankful that they will be gone in a week or so haha.
The next day we went for a walk to the corner of the beach near our house. At this corner there were several tide pools, caves, and tunnels that we wanted to see for ourselves.
The reputation of this corner was not underplayed and there were caves and tunnels everywhere. Here is a picture of us in one of the coves that only sees water at night. Also, I know the speedo is becoming a little too much, but I figure I should rock it while I still can and while I am in a country where it is socially acceptable to wear one haha.
This is our little mermaid pose for all you Disney fans out there haha.
For our last day in Puerto Escondido we chose to spend the entire day at the beach with the whole group. Here is a picture of most of us playing in the water. I am on the far right just joining the group.
This is one of those pictures that most of you will look at and say, "show-off" but I am okay with it because this is one of those pictures that I will someday show to my grandkids and use it as an example that they can do anything haha. Okay okay, that last part is a little unreal but it could happen haha. Plus, it is a very cool picture.
We returned to our home for food and each took part in swinging at a piñata. We didn't want to travel to Mexico for 11 weeks and forget to buy a piñata. As you can see, this is a picture of my backswing, meaning a missed my first time. Don't worry, I didn't strike out. I hit the piñata on both my second and third tries.
We returned to the beach as the sun was setting and the girls in the program started a photo shoot. My friend Jonji and I decided to jump in and take some pictures as well. These are our sexy model looks haha. As you can see, our looks were to much to handle and the girls soon fled the scene.
These are the men of the program. It is hard to see but we are actually holding up a "M" with our top hand and a "V" with our bottom hand. No, this is not a gang sign. It actually stands for MAN VAN, which is a statement we made up on the trip. You see, every time we got in the van to go on a brigade or to give a presentation we took the opportunity to have a van full of men. Then, when the girls walked by to get in the van we would all yell MAN VAN and shut the door. It may sound mean, but some very valuable and memorable things were shared on these man trips haha.
Here is a picture as the sun sets and all of us standing there saying goodbye to Puerto Escondido. What a great trip at the beach it has been and I hope to return someday to further share my experience with my family. My experience here was truly amazing and something I will remember forever. Only one week left and I am coming home!!!!!! Please comment and thanks for reading.
This week was very busy and involved a lot of school work. When we weren't off on a brigade or in class learning, we were in a cafe working on our group and personal essays, but we did find time early in the morning to escape on this water adventure. Here is a picture of us leaving the bay to go dolphin and turtle watching.
The tour guide promised us we would see at least 20 dolphins and he wasn't kidding. Dolphins surrounded us from all directions. Here we are trying to touch them they got so close.
Here is a better picture of how close we were to touching them. They were literally a foot away from us and they seemed to love the attention. Some dolphins were jumping four feet in the air. It was like we were at see world or something.
Hard to believe right? Because it is so hard to display the experience through picture, here is a video that helps clarify what I am saying. It is a little shaky at times but it shows how many dolphins were around us. Noticing that there was snorkeling gear on the boat, we began to stick our heads underwater as the boat was moving in order to see all the dolphins underwater, which was a much higher amount than what we were seeing above the water.
After dunking our heads in the water, my friend Jonji asked the tour guide if we could swim with the dolphins. What's funny is that the question was kind of vague in that it didn't specify when. Therefore, when the tour guide said yes, four of us jumped in the water immediately. Unfortunately for us, when the tour guide said yes he was referring to a later time because at that time there were jelly fish everywhere. This picture is of us frantically climbing back on the boat after being stung a few times haha. The stings only burned for a few minutes and it wasn't that bad. The tour guide just laughed at us. He said that there were a lot of jelly fish right now because the water was cold, but we all thought he was kidding because the water was 85 degrees haha.
We also saw several turtles on the trip. Here are two turtles that are "hugging" haha. Our tour guide said that turtles can "hug" for as long as two days. He also said that the female turtle was around 65 years old. We made sure not to disturb the two very much.
Later we found another turtle and the tour guide jumped in and brought the turtle on the boat. It almost looks fake but we all made sure to take plenty of pictures.
Next, the tour guide placed the turtle back in the water an we each took turns holding on as the turtle took us for a ride. We had to be careful though because the tour guide said the turtle could break our fingers with its bite. The boat trip was really cool and it was fun swimming with some of the most friendly creatures of the sea.
Like I mentioned earlier, the majority of the week was spent on brigades and working on our papers. This weeks topic was tropical diseases. We spent Monday and Tuesday learning all about the different vectors, mosquitos and chinches, that transmit tropical diseases like Malaria, Dengue, and Chagas. On Wednesday we went to a nearby town called Chula, where these diseases were a big threat.
We spent the first day with an entomologist learning about the mosquito that transmits Malaria. The mosquito is called Anopheles and they grow in lagoons and places with still water like above.
After catching some Anopheles larva, he showed us where adult mosquitoes go during the day to rest. Wells and other cool places are very common.
The next day we met early to receive a demonstration on the fumigation process these entomologists use. The entomologist work very closely with the local clinics in order to prevent an outbreak of tropical diseases.
These men are like the modern day ghostbusters haha. When a person is infected with one of these diseases, the tema of entomologists must fumigate that house and the ten houses that surround it.
After the demonstration we went to a few local houses to see where the mosquito thats transmits Dengue is found. This mosquito, called Aedis Aegypti, is found instill water tanks and containers. This mosquito will even grow in plants that are growing in your house.
After spending the entire week learning about these tropical diseases, it was our turn to present this information to the women in the community. Here, we performed a skit using the audience to act out how Dengue is transmitted. I played the guitar to set the mood of the scene haha.
Here are a couple more people in my group performing a scene about how Malaria is transmitted. My friend Ngabo makes a really convincing mosquito haha. The presentation was really fun and the audience really appreciated our help. It was a big challenge for us because none of the women in this community could read or write and very limited on their vocabulary. Therefore, we had to create a presentation that was very visual and also simple so that they could put our teachings into practice.
This part of my blog is just to gloat a little bit haha. It is my understanding that the weather has now turned cold and winter is well on its way. Here, it is at least 80 degrees everyday and the beaches are gorgeous. This is the beach that is only a block away from where we are staying.
You also find little surprises at this beach. Here is a puffer fish, but we also saw several bat rays leap out of the water like dolphins. I wish I could have caught it on film. We would be body surfing and a bat ray would jump out of the water and flap its wings only ten feet away from us.
This isn't on of my videos but this is what we would commonly see!!!
Here is a picture of the beautiful homes that line the beach. There are also bars and restaurants everywhere. It is a lot of fun. That ends another great week in paradise. Please comment and stay tuned for the blog on my last week in Puerto Escondido later this week.
Sorry for the delay, we are now in Puerto Escondido and the internet access is very slow, making it really difficult to upload all of these pictures. Anyway, here is a picture of our 9 hour trip in a charter but through the mountains in order to get to the coast. This is a picture in the morning when we were all really excited. After 9 hours we were all wiped and motion sick haha.
The 9 hour trip was worth it because here is where we stopped and will be staying for the next three weeks. Paradise right??? There is a huge common room on the third floor with hammocks and a ping pong table, and a pool with lawn chairs and grass hut cabanas. I don't know how we are going to get any work done here haha. Oh and I also forgot to mention that the beach is a block and a half away. :)
The next day, after we arrived, we went to one of the popular beaches called Playa Carrazalillo. Being away from the beach for so long, I forgot how much I enjoyed it. You can see me in my bright shorts charging the wave, which is one of my favorite things to do. The wave always won the battle, but crashing and burning into the water was half the fun.
Later that day they gave us free surfing lessons. I spent most of the time helping others, because I have gone surfing several times, but then I caught some good rides at the end. Puerto Escondido is world know for its surfing and it will even be hosting an international surf competition in two weeks.
We had a great day at the beach and stayed all the way till sundown. The first picture is one of the entire group as the sun sets behind us. The second picture is right before we left. The sunset was amazing!
We are very fortunate to have a group that enjoys exercising so we would meet everyday and organize group exercising sessions. This session was on the beach and this picture was taking ten minutes after the workout, when everyone was excited to be done and go eat haha.
Here is another one of our group workouts, but this one is located in our common room on the third floor. I'm in the second row of people on the right. You can see me in my bandana haha. These workout were organized by my friend Jonji and myself and they are a lot more fun and entertaining when everyone participates.
During the each week we focus on one health topic. We spend monday and tuesday learning everything about that topic and then go on field trips, called brigades, to experience what we have been learning in the community. This first week was all about Family Planning. We learned about all the different types of contraceptives and other parts of family planning. Here we are at a midwife's house. She told us how she became a midwife after she delivered her first child all by herself. She also told us that, back in the day, boys would cost more te deliver because they were considered more valuable in society. Don't worry, this trend is pretty much extinct now.
The next day we went to another traditional midwife's house. She taught us the process of having a baby at her house. First, they receive a limpia to relieve them of all evil spirits and thoughts. Next, they give them a tea that is supposed to speed the birthing process along. We were given the unfortunate opportunity to try this tea. It was horrible!!! It tasted like someone soaked shoes in hot water. My theory was that it sped up the birthing process because it would make them gag, which caused them to tighten their stomach and squeeze the baby out haha.
On Friday, after spending the entire week learning and preparing, we went to a middle school and gave a contraception talk to all the classrooms. Here is a picture if my group outside of the middle school.
Here we are giving our presentation. The kids were aged 13-16 and they were all actually very mature and involved with the presentation. These kind of talks are important in these communities because young pregnancies are very very common and it was a big majority of what we all saw in our clinical observations. I talked about injections, which is a very common choice of contraception in Mexico because women don't want to worry about taking a pill everyday.
On Sunday we went to a local lake to see some of the coastal birds that are indigenous to the area. The lake was beautiful with vegetation and coconut trees surrounding most of its edges. Also, this lake is one of two lakes in the world that has a bacteria in it allowing it to glow at night under the moonlight. Unfortunately, we were there in the morning but maybe we'll return another night to witness this first hand.
Here are some of the birds we saw while on the boat. I didn't note what they were called but they were very big and looked like small pterodactyls when they flew.
Although the birds were very cool, the best part about this lake was that it was only separated from the ocean by a chunk of sand. Transitioning from a lake, where people water ski and wake board often, to a beach where you can surf anytime was the coolest thing ever. It was an extreme water sportsman's paradise. That concludes my first week in Puerto. The trip is rapidly coming to a close. Stay tuned as there is more to come and, as always, please comment.
Ok so maybe my mom isn't turning 35. That would mean she had me when she was 13!!!! Lets just say she is turning a very "nifty" age. At this age she will be really "thrifty". She will also have a good excuse to act a little "shifty" haha. I kid but this is a huge milestone in life and I am so proud of my mom and all she has done for me and my family. I love my mom with all my heart and I am sorry I can't be there to celebrate this special day with her. As I said in my birthday blog for my sister, what makes this gift special is when everyone that reads it tells my mom happy birthday. That way, every time she receives birthday wishes, a little piece of me will go with it.
I had to put a couple pictures of our family being goofy because this is the best part of you and our family. You taught me how important family is and you have given me more support than I can ever ask for. These are true moments of the special relationship that we have and these moments are what give me strength to accomplish anything in life.
Here is another great example of the good times we have together. For those of you that haven't heard this story, my little sister pushed the camera timer and then ran to join the rest of us. She sat down so fast, trying to beat the flash of the camera, that bumped my face with her head. I then jerked back and bumped my brother Justin's face and the chain reaction continued down the line. But this story is very symbolic of what you have accomplished in life. You see, when Ryan (the first child) was born, you taught him to be a kind, loving, and hard working person who takes pride in what he does and always puts his family first. Then when Justin and I were born, you and Ryan passed along these teachings to us. Finally, when nicole was born, we all passed on these characteristics to her and look where it has gotten us!!!!! We now try to pass these characteristic onto other people in our lives and the new relationships that we are starting, further dispersing the chain reaction.
Here is an older picture of my First Holy Communion. I had that slicked-back greaser hair from 1st grade all the way till the beginning of high school. I also went through a stage where I wouldn't wear jeans. Instead, I wore sweatpants everywhere. Regardless of all my ridiculous quirks, my mom let me be me and supported me continuously. I remember getting off the school bus at the end of the day in elementary school and seeing my mom standing there with rollerblades on. There is nothing like the comfort of returning home after a long day, but it isn't home without my family there. It's like they say, "home is where the heart is." As corny as that statement is, it is very true. Seeing my mom when I got off the bus is more my home than my own apartment in Davis, because my heart is with my family and there is no home without you there.
This is a random picture of the two of us one morning, but I love this picture because it reminds me of all those lazy saturday and sunday mornings where we would relax in our pajamas, catch up in life, and snuggle as we watched tv. Mornings are some of the best times to really talk because the burdens of the day haven't clouded your mind yet.
Here we are in Kauai being goofy once again. Our family vacations are some of the best times of my life. The reward of not only experiencing something new, but also spending time with the people you love is enough to last a lifetime. I will never forget the countless amazing hikes, camping trips, tahoe getaways, and other vacations that we spent together. I look forward to the future vacations that we will have together and all the memories that we will create.
This was our normal attire haha, no I'm just kidding. This was a dress-up day at school. One of the coolest things I got to experience in life was having my mom work at my high school. It's funny because there are so many tv shows and movies displaying this type of situation as embarrassing or a horrible experience, but it was the complete opposite for me. I would walk by my mom's window everyday and say hi or chat for a bit. I loved those days when I would receive a text during break saying, "come see me" from my mom. Then I would go see her and she would have a nice lunch for us. A couple of times she would even hear girls gossiping (don't worry, it was always good gossip) about me and my brothers and then she would tell us when she got home haha. It's like I said before, when your mom is around it is like bringing a piece of home with you and I felt more comfortable at school with my mom their.
There have been a lot of silly pictures but this one is more serious. This is a picture of my mom and I one christmas. She works so hard every year to make sure we can have a wonderful holiday. Every year, christmas is the best day of the year, not just because we all get presents, but also because of the tradition of waking up in the morning, jumping in mom and dad's bed, and spending the day with my family.
Here is a picture of the two of us at my cousins wedding. My mom has always been really good at picking out nice clothes for me to wear to special occasions. In fact, she still, to this day, picks out all the men's outfits in the family when we are going to a formal event haha. We are like her life-sized Ken dolls.
Here is a picture of our last christmas. My mom got me a stethoscope and a Scrubs DVD, everything I need to be a doctor haha. She wanted me to listen to her heart, which is in a very inconvenient location; hence, the uncomfortable face. But in all seriousness, my goal of becoming a doctor is not an easy task but I, as well as my brothers and little sister, set high goals because of my mom and dad. They pushed us as kids to strive for excellence and learn from our failures. When we failed, they were there to help pick us up and motivate us towards another goal.
Here is picture of us a couple months back at my graduation from UC Davis. Mom, I couldn't have got here without your love and support. You have dedicated your life to providing the best possible life for Ryan, Justin, Nicole , and myself. You have done so much for me and you deserve everything you desire in return. I know I am away now and there will be other times in my life where I will be far away, but always know that eventually I will come home. I love you so much and I miss you. I can't wait to see you in 23 more days when I return back to the states. Have a great birthday and know I will be there in spirit.
Happy Birthday Mom. I love you,
This week was Dia de los Muertos, a holiday in Mexico that is more popular than christmas. This holiday celebrates those that have passed away and is entirely ran with traditions. We did our best to integrate ourselves into that tradition in order to fully experience this wonderful holiday.
The first tradition we got involved in was making an altar. We were the only US team to enter in this competition. Although we are all very creative and innovative, we had to learn all about the traditions of the area, which were very strict. For example, the arches of the altar must be made with sugar cane stalks.
All of us guys were in charge of the altar's general structure. We went to the mercado to buy the cane stalks, some rope, and the wooden boxes pictured above. We used these boxes to make the seven layers of the altar.
This was our taxi that helped us transport all of our materials. I always enjoy these experiences because one of my horrible stereotypes of Mexico is the image of people riding around in the back of trucks. Although, it is unfortunate that we can't legally do this in the US because it is very cost effective and exciting haha.
Here we are starting the structure of our altar. Tradition gave us the blueprints of which we were left to recreate.
The region our altar was representing was high in the mountains and know for its greenery and orange flowers. We decided to wrap the cane stalks with the flowers, which were meticulously sewn together, and use banana leaves as our table clothe. One thing we forgot to account for was the weight of the flowers. The canes began to slouch and fall, so we had to anchor them to the roof.
Here is the final product of the altar. We also chose a local celebrity of the area to represent our altar. Her name is Maria Sabina and she was best well known for her use of mushrooms as a medical treatment. She also met with famouse froups and people like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and even Walt Disney. Also each layer has a significance and must have certain materials on it. For example, one layer was just food and drinks of the area.
Here were the other altars we were competing against. The first two were very traditional altars of other areas. The third altar is very innovative and cool, but lacked any tradition. The last altar was by far the best, but it went against some of the strict traditional aspects of the area. Basically, the picture I am painting is our altar was perfect haha. Unfortunately, there must have been something we were missing cause we didn't even place. We were pretty shocked but still very proud of the work we did.
The second tradition we got involved in was the creation of these sand sculptures called tapetes. We used thick sand to help create our sculpture and then fine colored sand to add in the detail.
Here is a picture of our finished tapete with our banner hanging above it. It is a picture of Maria Sabina, half living and half dead, with a crown of mushrooms on her head. She is also surrounded by the mountains where she is from.
Here are some more professional tapetes. As you can see, these are much bigger and require days of work. We finished ours in less than six hours.
Here is the traditional attire for the festivities. Many people paint there faces to look like skulls and dress in elegant dresses or suits.
We decided to join in on the face painting tradition. We all got together and helped paint each other's faces so that we could further participate in the festivities. The funny thing is, that was probably the time I fit in most in mexico. It hid half of my whiteness haha.
Here is a picture of me and my roommates. I am very proud to say that I did my face paint all by myself. Even though I did sit in front of a mirror for about an hour working on it, the result did end up looking pretty manly haha.
Once in skeleton form, we joined a small community parade called a comparsa. These little parades where going on everywhere. They involved a marching band that would play music and you would march around downtown drinking mezcal and dancing. Here is a short video of a time when we met with another comparsa and did a little dance.
Here we are in character, half living and half dead haha.
Here is another video of us with the comparsa. In this video we are in the center of the city and hundreds of tourists and locals have gathered around to watch us all make fools of ourselves. You can also see the majority of the faces that are painted in our group.
The next day, after clinic, we went to another cemetery where hundreds of families gather to honor their dead relatives. They told us that people will travel from all over the world to visit their dead relatives on this day.
Each family covers the graves of their loved ones with as much flowers as possible and some get really creative like in this one.Outside of the cemetery was a huge fair and a band so everyone could enjoy the festivities. That concludes my amazing experience with Dia de los Muertos and we are now headed to Puerto Escondido to learn about tropical diseases and enjoy a little bit of paradise. Please comment and thanks for reading.
Today my little sister turns 6.....okay fine, she actually turns 12, but just so we're clear I am not happy about it haha. So since I can't spend this special day with her and my family, I thought I would spread the word so that everyone knows it's her birthday. That way when all of you tell her happy birthday, a little bit of it comes from me. Since I have been in college and moved out of my house, I have had a different picture of my sister and I as my desktop picture each year. Here are some of the many pictures that I would see every time I opened my computer.
Although this isn't a picture of my sister and me, and it wasn't one of my desktop backgrounds, I wanted to add this picture to show how my sister, Nicole, has grown in life. I will never forget the day she was born. It was crazy hair day at school. My hair was green and Justin's hair was blue. We just finished band practice, when we rushed to the hospital to see our new baby sister.
Here is a picture of Nicole and I at Lake Pinecrest, a place we visit annually with family.
Here is my sister and I in front of the Christmas tree. The best part about having a little sister is the excuse to act like your 10 years old on the holidays :).
This is a picture in Long Beach at my diving Conference Championships. I was forced to participate in a team event and grow my mustache, or gross peach fuzz, out but it didn't stop her from hanging around me.
Here is a picture of us in Tahoe. Nicole wanted to go sledding, but all us old farts wanted to just relax at the hotel. She convinced me to rally everyone together and we went outside and had an unforgettable time. She is always keeping us young.
Here we are at my college graduation. Probably the longest ceremony every done and there wasn't even a famous speaker, but she stuck it out for me and screamed as I got my diploma.
This summer was a very special time for my sister and I. Both my parents had to work and I was home studying for the MCATs all summer. That meant Nicole and I had most of the summer to ourselves. We had a wonderful time and bonded a lot. We went to the beach, went roller bladding, ate junk food and even recorded a 3 song album with me on guitar and her on recorder haha. Here we are at the American Idol Concert. She could have brought any one of her friends and she chose me instead.
Here we are at the airport right before I left for my trip to Mexico, where I am now. This is currently my desktop background. I love you little sister and I can't wait to come home and see you and the rest of the family. Have a wonderful birthday.
On Tuesday Last week we went to a local botanic garden to learn about the traditional plants and their purpose in traditional medicine. We saw plants that were used for muscle pain and anti-inflammatory purposes. Here is a picture of a plant called Poleo, which is used to cure hangovers and to relieve stomach pain.
Here are the vines of the Guamuchil tree (shown is brown in the picture). These vines are used to settle someone's stomach or help with digestive issues.
Here is what real corn looks like. The corn cob was only about as big as my thumb. It just goes to show you how much genetic altering we have done to this plant to make it what it is today. Also, it made me question all the images of indians giving pilgrims big cobs of corn for thanksgiving haha.
In the past, the bark of this tree was placed in a hot bath with the patient to help lower the patient's temperature and it also was used to eliminate scars.
This tree is called the Tree of the Birth of Marriage because, traditionally, newlywed couples would have to close their eyes and cut off a brach of this spiny tree. Then, based on how many spines were present on that tree, that would be how many issues in their marriage they would have to overcome.
The coolest part about this garden was the irrigation system. The simplest part to this system was these huge wells that had channels attached to them so the plants could always have water.
The next part to this system was the way they gathered the rainfall water. Notice the continuous protrusions of stone from the roof of the building and the open rock beds or bricks at the base. When it rained, the water would flow off the roof and be minimally filtered by these beds at the base. Then, little channels under the ground would distribute the water to wherever it was needed.
I thought this was a cool picture because it looks as if several octopus are trying to grab us as we walk by. Also notice one of the many water channels on the ground where the water can travel.
Here is the well anticipated forest of cactus that I knew everyone was waiting for. I love this picture because it looks like the entrance to the wizard's palace in the wi
Here is the clinic where I spent 3 days last week. Unfortunately, the doctor wasn't feeling good and wouldn't let us shadow him. So instead, we were stuck doing helping the nurses take blood pressures and heart rates for three days. We also watched a dentist appointment and a psychology counseling but, overall, I was disappointed with my experience there.
Here is a picture of me and my partner, Carolina, with the two nurses that we helped. Something I have noticed and been unable to figure out is the nurses never smile. I don't know if it is just coincidence or if it is a cultural sign of inferiority or what.
After clinic on friday we had a tamale barbecue. We didn't do any barbecuing but everyone's host families came and brought all different types of tamales. My host mom is in the white and her granddaughter is next to her. It was a nice way to say thank you to everyone and to meet more families that our friends are staying with.
Here is a picture of part of my host family. They have all been very nice and our host mom worries about us as if we were her own children. Also, out of all the tamales that were there, my host mom's were the best and I am not saying that just cause I live with her. She was the only one to run out of tamales. I had four of her salsa verde tamales. They were delicious.
Friday evening we heard of a costume contest going on in one of the local clubs so we all threw together cheap costumes and made it our own halloween night. I went for a cheap pirate costume because I bought a Mexican Classical guitar and I was trying not to go too far over my budget for that week.
Here is a bigger group picture with some more costumes. My good friend, John, bought a fluffy pumpkin costume haha. He didn't win the contest, but his roommate, Ngabo, was a Luchador and won. I personally think he won because he was wearing skin tight tights and he stuffed his crotch haha.
For our last week, we were busy participating in the festivities of Dia De Los Muertos. It was a very busy week and stay tuned for a full post just on this holiday. I should be done with it sometime at the end of this week. Thanks again and please comment.
Sorry for the long delay, last week was our midterms week. Yes, I know what you are thinking, they actually do work on this trip haha!!! But if you were thinking that, then you are very wrong. First, we assist in saving lives weekly. Yes, some might call us heroes haha. Also, we attend class in the mornings and it is not easy competing academically against a bunch of people who want to be doctors!!! But no worries, we all survived the week and made sure we were well rewarded this weekend. Since we spent most of our time writing long research papers, this weeks blog is primarily going to focus on my clinical experience.
I spent the last two weeks working at the major public hospital in Oaxaca called Hospital Civil. I started off the week working in the OBGYN department. Before you say EWWWW, this was probably my favorite shift because I got to help with the post-labor baby work, which only involved cute babies. Here is a picture of the Labor Ward where a couple of tubbos are looking to shed some weight.
Here is where I spent most of my time in OBGYN. Once here, we gave each baby eyedrops to fight off any bacteria, and a vitamin K shot to help clot their blood, specifically the blood in the umbilical cord. After that we would run through a check list that told us how far along the baby was gestationally. For example, if the baby had several crease lines on the bottom of his or her foot, that would mean they have been developing longer. Smooth feet means the baby was less developed, which is what we saw in premature babies.
Here is one of the baby girls I assisted with. You can see they just finished putting her foot print on her birth certificate.
My next shift was in the Surgery department. Here are my friends hanging out in the on-call room until we are called for surgery. A typical day in surgery meant arriving at seven for class, then following the doctor bed to bed as we went through rounds, and finishing the day with a few surgeries. The classes were cool because they were powerpoint presentations of the surgeries we were going to be doing that day. It helped fill us students in with the process, and put everyone else on the same page. Rounds were exactly like you would see on a medical tv show, like Scrubs. We would go bed to bed, short presentation of the patient's case would be said, and then the doctor would ask everyone questions. After rounds we would go to surgery, but I'll explain more about that later.
Here I am practicing Laparoscopic surgery with there simulator. It was like playing a video game. The objective in the simulator was to put beads on a string. It was really hard but after 10 or so tries I was really getting the hang of it.
Here is a picture of my partners and I with one of the surgeons. He was great at explaining everything he did, and even would pause at moments so we could take pictures.
Here is another one of the doctors we worked with and two of his residents. This was a gallbladder removal and, as you can see, the surgery room is very similar to that in the United States.
This was probably the most interesting surgery I have seen because of my dad's hand accident. Lets just say my day was very lucky. This man got his hand caught in a machine, which took off his pinky and left the rest of his hand severely damaged. Several days after his accident we had to go in and remove the finger next to his pinky because it wasn't receiving blood. I debated showing a picture of the fingers because they they were taken off so cleanly that they looked like a halloween prank, but I decided to not take the risk. Also, just to note, in Mexico they wouldn't have reattached my dads finger. They only reserve that option for young kids.
My last day in surgery I saw a man who broke the top of his femur. You can see where the bone broke in the drawing on the side of the X-ray. This surgery was crazy because they literally had to use a drill gun to drill holes in the bone and screw the rod in place. The surgeons were more like carpenters than doctors haha.
My next shift was scheduled to be in the Pediatric department but, unfortunately, the doctor didn't want students following him around. I was disappointed because that was the shift I was most looking forward to, but it was probably for the best because it doesn't sound like the doctor was very nice. So instead, I was in the Oncology department. The majority of what I saw here was the removal of tumors but here is a CT scan of a person with kidney cancer. On the left side of the picture, right next to the vertebrae, is a normal circular kidney. On the other side is an abnormal, tumor-filled kidney. Unfortunately for this woman, we weren't able to remove this kidney because she reacted badly to the anasthesia, went into cardiac arrest, and had to be resuscitated. Thankfully, she survived but they were unable to continue the surgery.
On tuesday, last week, we went to a restaurant where we were going to learn to make traditional Mexican food. We were split into 4 groups and each group was given recipes of different things to make. Here are all the ingredients that my group was given.
Here is my group hard at work. We were assigned to make Arroz con Chepil, Ensaladas de Acelgas Almojo de Ajo, Pozole de Pollo Rojo, Tejocote en Dulce, and Agua de Jiotilla.
Here is a picture of the other groups in the restaurant. My favorite part about the whole thing was wandering around to other tables and eating other group's ingredients haha.
Here was the majority of the final product. Looks good, right? Except, I really didn't enjoy any of it. I think it is called traditional for a reason, meaning they no longer prefer to eat this food in the present. The safest thing on that plate was the tamale, which was practically just corn and no meat. I'm so culturally diverse haha.
Today we went back to the orphanage to play with the kids. It was a lot of fun and really rewarding. This time, because they knew who we were, they all ran and gave us hugs as we walked in. Here is a picture of my roommate Duke and some of the kids playing Pogs. I remember collecting those as a kid.
Here is a picture of everyone starting to settle down after a game of capture the flag. It was Pirates vs. Ninjas and each team won twice.
All the little girls loved to play with everyone's hair. I think they were going for the Whoopi Goldberg look haha. It was another great two weeks and we have two left till we go to Puerto Escondido. I'm really excited. Enjoy the post and please comment. It lets me know that people are reading this haha.
I was finally able to download this video. It is how they make these wooden mixers. Its pretty cool so I thought I would share it with everyone even though it is a little late. Enjoy