Friday, March 9, 2012

Medical Adventures in Mexico

I'm back from living the vida loca, much to my family's relief.  How can I sum up such an amazing adventure?? I'll start by saying it was one of the highlights of my life. If you're reading and wondering what the heck I'm talking about then I'll kindly refer you to the previous post...

In front of our beautiful hotel in El Fuerte, MX
My sister, brother, friend, niece and I

The trip was really three trips. Any one of them on their own would have been awesome but together they were the bomb!

1. Medical Clinic in Sinaloa, Mexico
2. Whale Trip in Baja
3. California with Mom

Between the touchiness of my laptop and the blogger upload feature my pictures are quite scattered so we are going to be a little ADD here and jump around in the travelogue..

After putting in a 13 hour day at the clinic we joined some others in our group to celebrate the festivities in the plaza.
Flying over rural Mexico
At the clinic in San Blas, MX: The local ladies whipped up some awesome meals for us during our stay. We h ad tortillas and eggs for breakfast, potato tacos for lunch and chicken mole for dinner and of course lots of salsa and fresh fruit.  Authentic, delicious and I'm happy to report, no sickness!
Dana Point Harbor with mom (CA)

 Celebrating Dave's birthday at the ChartHouse Restaurant. When the waiter described the day's special I told him he had me at macadamia nuts. I ordered macadamia nut encrusted mahi mahi that had been marinated in coconut milk and topped with mango salsa....mmm

 Baja, MX. I need to get down there, plant some palm trees, and build a little cabana on these undeveloped beaches!!  We weren't supposed to but we flew over the whale sanctuary and spotted 50 or so grey whales in the water below. We landed on a runway of seashells....ahhhh my kind of place.
 Curious baby whales accompanied by their mamas came over to play.
 Except for the barnacles they were rubbery smooth to the touch. I kissed one!
 Talk about rockin' the boat. These 50 footers would swim right under our raft. They could have flipped us if they were so inclined but no, they were very very gentle, peaceful, magnificent creatures.
Pilot and crew. We flew in this Cessna 4-seater plane from So. Cal all the way to Sinaloa, MX--home of the largest drug cartel in Mexico:)
 After a quick lesson in flying, I got to take control of the plane.  It only took me 10 stressful minutes to decide that flying wasn't for me.  
Dave and Shannon
This is what awaited us when we woke up after spending the night in the clinic--a long line of patients that had come from miles around.

Once admitted in the inside gates, patients were divided into areas according to what kind of doctor they needed to see. We had around 30 volunteers in our clinic: a couple of podiatrists and family medicine doctors, a pediatrician, dentist, cardiologist, general surgeon and even a chiropracter.

In scrubs and ready to get to work. We spent the first night in the clinic  in cots. Girls in one room boys in another. 2 bathrooms between us.
My sister and I were assigned to do triage, the front lines of the battle. Patients were admitted in a few at a time. We would fill out a card with their personal information, give them a number, take their vital signs, and send them to wait in the appropriate area.

When I wasn't translating or taking blood pressures I liked to sneak into the podiatry room to see my brother in action. Here he is giving my pre-med niece a lesson in steroid injections.

My brother was amazing with all his patients.  He made sure all the med students and volunteers had a great experience by letting them assist with a variety of procedures.  It is doctor Dave that really made our experience here truly phenomenal.

This little girl wanted to take a photo with me.  Her name is Ruby and when I had a break she told me all about herself.
 Scrubbing in for surgery.  I wanted to know if I could handle blood and guts. I was relieved to find out that I can--as long as the blood isn't mine.
 I helped my brother with a couple of bunion and hammertoe removals. He walked the med students through the procedure to help them get some experience in the operating room.  I even got to learn to do stitches--which is like crocheting only bloodier.
 These patients were given only local anesthesia for these surgeries. In the states you would be put under completely. I was amazed at the grit these ladies showed on the surgery table. After it all they were given a few expired pain meds from the pharmacy and sent home to recover.
Great experience and it won't be my last.   The closest I came to dying was driving my car in a UT blizzard to and from the airport.  Viva Mexico!


stephanie said...

WOW!!! what an awesome experience! so many cool things in such a short time. How wonderful that you got to do this

Sheree said...

What an amazing experience! So fun that you could share it with your family members and use your Spanish skills. I would love to do something like this someday.

Megz said...

It does seem like that should have been a month's vacation worth of fun rather than a few short days.
Sounds crazy awesome.
Hope you don't have any belated intestinal issues....

Sher said...

Do you remember how your birthday post was called "surprised by Laura"? Doing stitches? Taking blood pressure! Watching surgery? I really need to spend more time learning about the fascinating and talented Laura! I'm not too surprised about the beach things, but flying a plane? And I didn't know anyone really liked maji maji. Ewww. Ok. So I don't enjoy eating any kind of fish really. I'm glad you loved your trip.

Michelle said...

Wow! What an amazing opportunity. Those whales! Wow!

Diana said...

wowza. I won't lie---I'm a little jealous! And glad you got to do something you really wanted to do. BTW, aqua is your color.:)