As the days go by, I am dreading my return home. Most volunteers stay for much longer than me- from anywhere between 2 to 8 months from what I have heard! My month feels like nothing compared to their journeys… but I am not upset about it. They say you should always leave a place during the best moments so you want more, with happy memories. That is exactly how I feel! But enough talk about leaving, I am only on week 3!
Today is Wednesday, and my past few days have consisted of leaving the beautiful town of Canoa and returning to Quito. This week in the hospital I have started a new rotation-pathology! I work in a research lab at school, and I enjoy it. They say that people who like research also tend to like pathology, so I was interested to see whether that would be true for me. I was given a very warm welcome by everyone in the pathology department, which made me feel a lot more comfortable. When I walked into the lab area, I saw a lot of familiar equipment we use in my university’s lab, which made me feel right at home! They quickly put me to work, teaching me what needed to be done and giving me tips on how they prefer things. Time flew by on my first day! Since then, I have also gotten to see a lot of… body parts. I saw some stuff that may make some people queasy- a dissected uterus, testicles, a prostate, fallopian tubes, warts, several fetuses of varying sizes, and a bunch of other stuff. It was interesting to watch and listen as the doctor did his initial diagnostic evaluations.
Besides all of the cool science stuff, all of the employees have been super nice to me. They have been telling me about Ecuadorian traditions like “carnival”, where people go in the streets and pretty much have a three-day long food fight, or “la noche vieja”, where men run through the streets dressed like women on New Year’s Eve. It is nice to talk to them as we work because it definitely helps my Spanish improve. Although pathology has been good to me, I do miss seeing and talking to patients. Dissecting their body parts just doesn’t cut it for me (pun intended).
There is a huge contrast between working in emergency medicine, where I had some very interesting patient encounters (one man stopped me and another volunteer and forced us to have a little prayer session with him- in the middle of the pharmacy!), to working in pathology, where you are only talking to other employees. This experience has taught me more about what I would prefer as a doctor; however, I would not be unhappy doing something like pathology. I just think I enjoy the doctor-patient relationship, and the ability to communicate and connect to the person I am helping. Nevertheless, pathologists do some great work and really know their stuff! Which area of the hospital should I go to next week?
Last night a few volunteers had a goodbye dinner at Café Mosaico-the same café I wrote about last week with the beautiful views of the city. We ate some food, had some laughs, and said goodbye to friends returning to Germany, England, and America. It was a wonderful evening!
I’ll check back in with you all on Friday. Hope you enjoyed hearing about my new experiences in pathology!
With love from Ecuador,