8/4/2016: Llapingachos

August 10, 2016

Spirit Cultural Exchange offers individuals the opportunity to help with a variety of volunteer projects in Ecuador while immersing themselves in the local culture. Volunteer projects are available throughout the year for a minimum of one week and are offered in many different fields. We hope you enjoy reading the blogs of our summer 2016 scholarship winner Mackenzie H!

Day 11:
I can't believe I'm already into the 2nd week of being here in Quito. Today was a little bit different in the clinic than the previous days. Instead of working in the laboratory taking blood all morning, I was there for about an hour before my supervising doctor was going to bring me upstairs to the hospitalization area. I had to wait for a little bit, but I was able to watch the doctor take out someone's stitches first. In the hospitalization area, this is where patients are seen for pre and post-operative care. It was much more modern than the clinic below with a locked door, tons and tons of charts, rooms for the patients, and more modern equipment such as electronic pulse oximeters, automatic blood pressure monitors, and so on. They have about 10 patient rooms. Some of the rooms are private and others are shared with multiple beds.

When I first arrived, one of the ladies was helping take care of a patient who was prepping for operation. The nurse was teaching me how to do different things. While she was preparing the hand IV, it started bleeding a lot and luckily I know a little bit of Spanish medical vocabulary because I was able to help get things for her that she needed. After the nurse showed me how to give medicines through the IV, we went back to the reception/nurses station and she told me all about the paperwork they have to do -- all of which is done with pen and paper. They don't use their computers for any of the patient information or records.

I also saw this woman creating amazing spray paint graffiti art. So very talented.

After listening and waiting to help some more, I talked with a woman who was waiting for her husband to get out of surgery. She is an English teacher here in Quito and really wanted to practice her English, so we talked for a little bit. My Human Anatomy and Physiology class came in handy when she was asking about different types of bones in the face. Huge shout out to both my Spanish Med Terms professor and my Human A. & P. professor! I guess I am learning in school! :)

When my longer day at work was over, I headed back to the house to eat some lunch, write in my journals, and relax for a little bit. After a little bit, I headed back to the school to meet another student here who is also from Minnesota. We chatted for a little bit and now are going to Baños together this weekend. I had a short interview about rules and regulations at the school (a little delayed because most was self explanatory), then I headed to salsa dancing. It was a good day and ended with a good dinner and a good night of trivia at a local restaurant.

Day 12:
Good day! Today was a great day of practice with drawing blood. I got to the clinic and worked in the lab all morning until things got really quiet. I was able to draw blood all morning too. What an experience it has been. For some of you who may be reading it, you may be thinking to yourselves... how is that fun? Well, being a nursing major and having to be learning this anyways, it helps to have practice. I feel as if this will definitely benefit me in finding veins for starting IVs in the future as well. Communicating in Spanish with the patients has been smooth going when we are chatting about normal day things, but when it comes to asking questions about things in the hospital, that's up to the nurses to answer.

The morning consisted of drawing blood, then I went up to the hospitalization area again for about an hour. There were new nurses there. They didn't really have anything for me to do because they were filling out paperwork. I was drawing on a scrap piece of paper when I noticed how their privacy system is VERY different than in the United States. (I may have also noticed this because I just filled out some paper work and done exams about my knowledge on patient privacy and care for school). While I was sketching on the scrap papers, I noticed that the patient's information and photo copies were on the backs of the paper. That was a little iffy. They also had a piece of paper with patients names, operations, and rooms laying out on the top counter for anyone to see. It was a little strange for me to see this.

After work, I headed home to eat some lunch and then after a couple of hours, back to the school I went. Today was a cooking lesson! We learned how to make a traditional Ecuadorian meal called Llapingachos. It consists of a fried egg with potato and cheese patties, sausage, a delicious peanut sauce, and avocado. It was deeeeelicious. The food was great and made me tired, so I headed home to write a little bit, FaceTimed back home, and fell asleep faster than I expected. (Also, I have been having really strange dreams and I'm not sure if it's due to the altitude, being in a new place, or what. Any ideas?)

Thanks for reading! Love from Ecuador,
Mackenzie