This past Friday was by far the best day in the hospital. There were fewer doctors working that shift than there had been on previous days but they were still very nice and inviting. One of the doctors let Maddy and I use his stethoscope to try to listen to each other's breathing because we had never really done that before (we didn't hear much because we didn't actually know what we were doing). Another doctor let us watch closely as he stitched up a massive cut on a patient's hand; this was very bloody but also very cool. And then there was a surgeon who basically made my day when he taught me how to do stitches from start to finish - I didn't do anything, don't worry, I just watched. He started by showing me how to thread a needle that does not already come with the string on it, then showed me how to best inject the Lidocaine, and then did every stitch very slowly so that he could explain everything that he was doing. The wound was a cut about 2 inches long on the top of a patient's head but it was a pretty clean cut so the doctor was able to close the wound with only 4 stitches. I felt like a little kid on Christmas while I stood by his side and he explained every step. After this, I didn't think the day could get any better - I was very, very wrong.
A large man came in with his left hand wrapped in a bloody sheet but he was very calm as he waited for the nurses to tell him what room to sit in. I went to see a different patient and, when I came back, one of the doctors was setting up the suture kit while the man was laying on his back with his arm stretched out and his hand resting on a wooden plank sticking out from the side of the bed. I stood outside the door of the room because I hadn't met this doctor yet and I didn't know if she would let me watch her or not. Just like the other doctors, she invited me into the room so I could get a closer look. The man has sliced open his finger so deep that the tendon was exposed and blood filled the wound in fractions of a second. With the help of another doctor, I watched as she stitched the tendon first because it had too been cut a little bit. Just as she was getting ready to move on to suturing the layers of skin back together, the surgeon from the head wound came over and told me to follow him. We went to the small ICU of the hospital where an unconscious man was hooked up to a respirator. I was going to watch the surgeon perform a tracheotomy - he was going to make an incision in the neck down to the trachea (windpipe) and then insert a tube into the incision which would be attached to the respirator so that the patient could breathe. I watched the doctor put on the gown, mask, and gloves while a nurse prepared all the tools necessary for the procedure. Once everything was ready, he began with a small incision in the lower part of the front of the neck and cut all the way down to the trachea. He then made another hole in the trachea itself; when this happened, there were little specks of blood that shot out every time air escaped (I personally thought this was really cool). The tube went into the small hole and the respirator was attached to the other end of the tube. The entire procedure lasted maybe 15 minutes. After this, I felt like I had adrenaline rushing through my body because I couldn't believe I had been allowed to watch the procedure from the surgeon's side. The fact that I looked inside a man's neck is absolutely crazy, but in the best way. At that point, it was time for me to go so that I could make it to class on time but before I left some of the doctors suggested I come in for a night shift because that is when la guardia really gets busy. Tomorrow morning I'm going to ask my hospital supervisor if I can actually do that - I'm really hoping I can!
Yesterday, while still reliving the awesomeness of Friday, two girls from the program and I went to a cute little pueblo about 3 hours away called "La Cumbrecita". It was originally inhabited by German immigrants so all the buildings looked very germanic. The town itself was tiny but was filled with restaurants serving traditional foods like sausage and beer as well as several small hotels and gift shops. The highlight of this little town was the little waterfall that you could get to by hiking. Really it was more of a 20 minute walk along a narrow, rocky path and then a 5 minute climb because the path ended and there were just a bunch of large rocks in the way. Luckily the sky was overcast so it was cooler than usual and there was a slight wind, otherwise this hike would've been miserable. The waterfall itself was really pretty and I managed to get some good pictures (as you can see below). Afterwards we walked back through the town, did a little shopping, and got on a bus to head back home.
|The adorable mugs of hot chocolate.|
|A bridge over the river.|
|One of the many little restaurants - this one had live music.|
I am so sad that this first week has gone by so quickly but I am so excited to get back in the hospital tomorrow morning!
As they say here in Argentina, Chau Chau!