A weekend trip to national park with my host family proved fascinatingly beautiful. The clear blue sky along with the calm and soothing quiet provided the perfect relaxation atmosphere. I joined my host family in a game of frisbee but the extreme and sudden downpour of rain forced us to cut our play short, call it a day and head home. (Extreme and sudden variations in temperature are quite common here...)
When I woke up Monday morning, I prepared for my goodbyes during my final day at the hospital as the next morning I would be changing placements. Not surprisingly, I assisted in another two more cholecystectomys in the morning but knowing it was my last day made them a little more exciting and interesting than usual.
It was the final surgery of the day that I found truly amazing and interesting. On the operating table was a patient who had recently been in a terrible car accident and badly fractured his clavicle. The surgeon carefully made an incision in just the right spot and after careful maneuvering and realigning, inserted a surgical plate and screws to help reconnect and stabilize his collarbone.
While I was a little sad to have left the educating and compelling surgical department, my sadness was quickly overridden by the heartwarming welcome at my new placement, an orphanage.
Yes, this entry will be no more than a quick update, as I would like to make sure I am well rested for the coming week. As per usual, www.infomongolia.com will have the latest news in English today, under the TV News tab.
I have yet to inform you that there is a very interesting rule I discovered about Mongolia recently. Due to heavy traffic in UB, the capital, there is a law that depending on your license plate number, there is one day of the week that you cannot drive (well, you can, but you'll be fined if caught). So, for instance, there is a particular day related to the license plate ending with a 4 or a 7, and on this day, the cars with such a license plate cannot drive. I believe the only exception to this rule is Sunday. Cool, eh? I must say it caught me a bit off guard, but I am not surprised such a law was implemented in a traffic-heavy city like Ulaanbaatar.
Seeing as though it has been quite some time since I've last written, I think it's fair to say that this entry will be a little longer than the past few...
Waking up Saturday morning with crusty and painfully itchy conjunctivitis, my hopes for what was to come this week were not so high. I got a weird feeling that this week would not be one of my better ones. I thought I had seen it all in the operating room and that any operation to come would just be a slight variation of what I was already use to. I've of course seen about a hundred more cholecystectomys and I've come to the conclusion that at least half of this country is walking around without a gallbladder - maybe a slight exaggeration...
But with my supervisor being a general surgeon, I was surprised to have gotten the chance to scrub in on an abdominoplasty (you read right, a tummy tuck). Back at home, such a job would only be done by a plastic surgeon therefore I remain amazed by the plethora of surgeries my supervisor can perform. So right when I thought I'd seen it all, obviously, I was proven wrong.
I've seen a patient go into hypovolemic shock and the whole team efficiently rush and work together to give her a blood transfusion. I've seen a patient flatline in what was expected to be just another simple procedure.
From standing on my feet in one spot for hours on end in surgery, I've learned patience and fortitude. A personal accomplishment as well, due to long operations that wind up taking much longer than expected, I am proud to say that I have developed the bladder capacity of a blue whale (fun fact: a blue whale can hold 5.5 gallons of urine). But all joking aside, I feel that I am now able to better undertsand what some people must face, others must fight and how some, despite all odds, will end ...
I have officially finished one week of my placement in the surgery department at the Ulaanbaatar Railway Hospital and trying to sum up my experience thus far would be to discredit it in someway. I've observed a hysterectomy, countless cholecystectomies (both laparoscopic and open) and I even got to hold one of the gallbladders once it was removed and empty all the gallstones! It has only been two years since laparoscopic surgery was introduced to the Railway Hospital, so it is relatively new, but Dr Boldbaatar, my supervisor, is skilled and has mastered the practice.
The feeling I get when my supervisor says "time to prep for operation", best described as excitement and a rush of adrenaline, coupled with the sight of an organ finally exiting the body after hours of patience operating to free it of its attachments, leaves me in awe. In awe of the practice of surgery but mostly in awe of the amazement of the human body. I feel as though I am living in a dream. I cannot even begin to imagine what awaits me in the next few weeks.
It's certainly been a decent amount of time since I've written. And in following a similar direction, it's also been a while since I've been home: pretty much exactly one month. It's really mind-blowing to think that all that has happened so far has happened in this short time. I've had so many firsts here, and already experienced so many things that one truly has to live to fully comprehend. For example, and on a lighter note, when could you ever ride a camel in Canada? Typing this blog entry, I see looming in the background on my computer screen a picture of two camels that we encountered on the way to Terelj National Park. Yes, they are adorable. Seeing as I do not have Wifi at my host family, I cannot verify this fact as I write, but was told near the beginning of my stay here that the camels in Mongolia are unique because they have two humps, whereas other camels only have one. Speaking of firsts, I am happy to report that the water now seems to be fully functional (temperature-wise) at my host family. From the morning of May 15, when I was not able to shower with hot or warm water, it has been exactly three weeks since the water has fully warmed up. What a wonderful feeling to shower with hot water - and what a concept after so much time without - I am…what can I say…mutton happy :-) And though this was a huge surprise to first find out about the water, my Longely Planet guide confirmed that this sort of thing is not uncommon in Mongolia.
So, a quick review of two things for today's blog -
The bus and the ballet: this Saturday I went for the first time on the bus. Quite different from back home, there is a lady who comes around in order to collect the 400 tugrik fare, and gives a small paper ticket in return. The bus I was on ...
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