Volcanoes, Virgins and the Middle of the World

Trip Start Feb 09, 2008
Trip End Feb 27, 2008

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Hotel Florida

Flag of Ecuador  ,
Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Volcanoes, Virgins & the Middle of the Earth

 Hello from Ambato Ecuador!  I arrived safely in Quito late Saturday night, settled into the very comfortable Hilton Colon and discovered the news of a looming massive volcanic eruption south of Quito... WOW!  That would be a great welcome!  The volcano in question, Tungurahua, has been active for many years but has escalated so much in activity during the past week that residents nearby have been evacuated and the surrounding area is on alert for the possibility of "the big one" hitting.  Dr. Vasconez, the group leader who is originally from Ecuador has reassured the group that if Tungurahua blows the only effect it will have on us is that we may get some casualties to attend to at the hospital in Ambato, which is just 35 miles from the mountain.   This could be more of an adventure than I had anticipated! 

This amazing group consists of over 90 nurses, physicians, physical therapists, an audiologist from 5 different states.  Many of the volunteers have returned year after year to participate in the annual mission.  We all got acquainted over a beautiful tour of Quito on Sunday where we visited the "old city" with colonial buildings, churches, lots of holy virgins ( Debby this is your kind of town!), and the equator.  The science center at the equator demonstrates the effects of being equidistant from both poles.  It turns out that only on the equator can one balance an egg on the head of a nail, break open the pinched fingers of a person who is much stronger, see water run straight down the drain (toilets not included, they are built for a swirl), and feel the magnetism of each pole when attempting to walk in a straight line with your eyes closed.   My favorite equatorial quality--you automatically weigh 2 pounds less here!   Buen Provecho and pass the guacamole!

Today was our first day at the hospital called "Regional" here in Ambato. Serving mostly the poor in the area, the hospital is a bit run down but full of smiling staff who seem to be happy to greet us and are graciously sharing their space with us for the week.   We arrived at the clinic early in the morning where throngs of people were eagerly waiting in line for a chance to be evaluated.  Several in the team had arrived early to set up the clinic and organize all of the supplies we would need for the week so we could hit the ground running first thing. Shortly after we arrived I was adopted by one of the anesthesiologists, Larry from Key West , to do translating for preoperative interviews.   We saw a really broad variety of surgical problems -burns, cleft palate and lip, tumors, ventricular shunts needing revision, cerebral aneurysm, extra digits, and an unbelievable number of  "microtia", underdevelopment\deformity of the ear which seems to be epidemic in this area.   I think itīs an autosomal recessive trait probably and something I have never seen in 15 years of delivering babies in the U.S. 

Speaking of delivering babies, I took a break from the preop interviews to help take some supplies up to labor and delivery with a nurse Deana Ward  from Birmingham when  the nurse in charge pulled us in to check a laboring patient because she couldnīt find the intern... before I knew what had happened we were running this woman down the hall, I was in a gown-gloves-hat in a delivery room straight out of the 40īs, and Marta the charge nurse was yelling  at me to cut an episiotomy (no thanks!) .  Out came a pink baby boy, no problems with anything and just a small repair.   Everything went well and my name is now on a birth certificate in Ecuador! Thankfully, I didnīt have to chart. 

For the remainder of the week Iīll be working with Dr. Brian Gleason, and ob-gyn from Birmingham and the surgical team he brought.  He has come several years so has a great repoire with the staff and attending MDīs here and has several hysterectomies and bladder repairs lined up for now....Iīll be doing lots of translating , helping out with anesthesia, and maybe some occasional ob work as the delivery room is right outside of the operating room. 

Glad to be in Ecuador......Wish me luck and enjoy some photos!
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laughinglynda on

Right beside you...
What a great blog! It's like I am right there beside you...oh wait, I am!:-)Glad you could join in the fun! Don't I look terrific? Down 2.2! Who knew?

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