Wednesday, July 6, 2011


             Things have been really busy here. Marianne and I have been working on our joint teaching project non-stop since Monday. Also we started our big aggregate and now we are waiting to conduct interviews before the next stage in the process.
              I went to the hospice again yesterday morning, but this time I went with Meg and Chelsea who have never been before. So I got to teach them how to do the dressing changes. It was very challenging because I had gotten into a system with Marianne and Maria that we just did it without even really thinking. They had never done this before, even in the U.S, so I had to teach them EVERYTHING! It was a little difficult at first because I would keep forgetting to say stuff or that a certain thing had to be used. We started off with Eusebia who just has the small ones on each leg, I showed them what to do on one of the legs and they did the other, with my guidance. We then had to tackle our biggest hurdle, Oswaldo, who has the very large wounds on his bottom. Even though it was a challenge, I really enjoyed teaching them what I knew.  It is such a great feeling to be able to share your knowledge with someone, especially an eager audience. I helped them to accomplish something today that they have never seen or done before and it was so great to see it all come together. This is why I became a nurse; I get to teach my patients EVERYDAY about their illness, medications and how to stay healthy. My love of teaching has also led me to set my goals high and eventually go to grad school so I can teach future nurses.
                 My confidence in Spanish is growing every day.  The missionary group from St. Patrick’s church in Chicago, only has a few people who can speak/understand Spanish so they have been relying on us a lot to translate and ask people questions. So yesterday, Father Pat (from St. Patrick’s) and two other women were giving Eucharist to the hospice patients. None of them could speak Spanish and Deisy doesn’t speak English so Deisy pulled me aside a couple times to translate for them. I was really nervous because I was thinking, “I can’t translate. This is going to be a disaster!”. I don’t know if it was adrenaline or something else but my brain kicked it into high gear and I was able to translate for them! My Spanish is not perfect by any means but I am able to speak enough that Deisy can understand the main points. After three hours of trying to speak and translate Spanish, I find myself getting flustered with English speaking! I never thought that would happen!
           The afternoon was spent in the hospital. It was slower and the staff didn’t seem to care too much that we were there. So for the first little bit we just stood around and watched. After about an hour, a surgical tech came and got us and brought us into the Trauma room. Here we then watched someone get stitches and someone get a subclavian catheter put in. The catheter was very neat because I have never seen that done before and it is a very dangerous procedure because you are essentially putting an IV into the heart.
This morning I started off at the hospital again but this time was placed in the nebulizing and injection room. I don’t believe they really have anything like this in the U.S. It is a room with about 8 lawn chairs and one bed. Patients come in and hand the medicine to the nurse, the nurse gets it ready and then injects it into the patient either through a shot or an IV. At this hospital, after they get a diagnosis from the doctor, the hospital doesn’t give them the medicine that they need to take. The people actually have to go outside the hospital to the Pharmacy, pick up the medication and then bring it back to the ER so a nurse can give it to them. How crazy is that?! The nurse and tech that I worked with today were super nice. At first she spoke really fast but she must have figured out that I had no idea what she was saying because she started to speak slower to me and using words that I could understand. She let me do a lot of IM injections, which is something I have never done in the U.S before. About halfway through my time there, I pulled out a handy little pocketbook of some key medical terms (Thanks, Jessica!). The nurse spotted it and her eyes grew big. I handed it to her and then we spent pretty much the rest of the time looking at the book. She would say the word in Spanish and then ask me to pronounce it in English if she couldn’t. It was a different position for me to be in because I am so used to being taught what the Spanish word is for something. This was actually one of the only people I have worked with that have been that interested in learning the English words.
                   This afternoon, Marianne and I presented our First Aid presentation to the women of Vaso de Leche. It was really rough at first, because Marianne and I had made a powerpoint in Spanish, and we had a rough time pronouncing a lot of the words. About half way through we asked if anyone had questions and the women were raising their hands left and right. This boosted our confidence and I really feel like we reached a lot of the women. Even though I was so stressed trying to put this entire thing together in two days, I felt so accomplished when it was all done. The women really enjoyed it and definitely took away some crucial tips like not to tip your head back when you have a nosebleed and to not wrap your child in lots of clothes and blankets if they have a fever. It was all very simple stuff, but will make a huge difference in these villages. Here are some pictures from the presentation!

Me talking and Marianne demonstrating

 Demonstrating how to stop a nose bleed.

 Marianne talking and me demonstrating the nosebleed again. (They really wanted to know about nosebleeds!)

                So tonight was a special kind of mass. We kept hearing that it was a “healing” mass and that the church was going to be packed wall to wall with people. The only other thing I knew was that mass was going to be about two and a half hours, which didn’t make me too happy because I was so tired from the pass couple of days. Of course, there was standing room only when mass started and the congregation was going crazy clapping and yelling “Viva Cristo” and “Alleluia!”. I honestly felt like I was on one of those church T.V shows. After the homily, the lights went out and Padre Jose told everyone to close their eyes and that the missionaries and the nurses could get up and pray over those who they felt needed prayers and healing. At first I thought, “what the heck am I supposed to do? I can’t heal people”. I don’t know what it was, possibly God, but I got up and started walking to people. I just started placing my hands on people’s shoulders and saying a silent prayer. As I was placing my hands on these shoulders I looked around the congregation. An overwhelming feeling came over me and I could feel everyone’s worry, stress and pain. I started to tear up with every thought of a single mother, sick grandparent, loss child, workaholic, or homeless person. In a matter of seconds I had tears streaming down my face. At first I thought that my crying was not allowed because I was supposed to be “healing” these people. I then realized that I am no different from them. I am human, I have stress, I have worry and I have pain. It doesn’t matter what culture you are a part of, everyone is human, we all experience these things and we all need healing. 

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