28 March 2006

that's why they call it a bedpan.

the vomit was green. dark green. and it smelled the like the worst bad breath you could ever have. like if you slept for three days solid and then woke up and went around smiling and laughing really close to people. (have you ever thought about sleeping beauty's breath? that guy had to kiss her, and she'd been sleeping for AWHILE! talk about morning breath! it'd be like decade breath!) anyway, it kept coming in little mouthfuls. just when it looked like it was over, there'd be more convulsing, more doubling over, and more mouthfuls of green goo.

she was a middle-aged woman, about 30 minutes out of surgery. the puker, i mean. she was a little nauseous. she was laying down on those little hospital beds on wheels, which is where i fit in: i was holding the pan she was puking in.

i finally got to work in the recovery part of surgery, and it was everything i hoped it would be. while i was holding the old puke pan, i was thinking how much the scene was exactly like what i'd hoped everything would be like. although the color of the vomit was completely optional. when she was ready to go back to her room, she said "gracias" and i stroked her hair and said "nada". it was pretty much perfect.

25 March 2006

google earth--put the world in perspective!

i have no idea if this will work, but it would be super awesome if it did. if you don't already have google earth, you definitely should regardless of this post. you should go to earth.google.com and download it. then, if you follow this link ( http://h1.ripway.com/jeremyhowe/quitoplaces.kmz.zip ) and download the file "quito places.kmz.zip", it will open in google earth and show you some of the places i've been and talked about here, such as the cathedral, the statue, the hospital where i work, and the apartment where i live.

if you're not already addicted to google earth like me and some of my friends, i don't blame you if this seems like an extremely laborious and not very worthwhile process. but if you are one of my friends for whom this is not new (chad, aaron--i'm looking at you), please let me know if the link and file download works.

and for the rest of you, addictions aren't so bad once you get used to them--download google earth and join the fun! the time-consuming, all-encompassing, super-fantastic, semi-overwhelming fun!

23 March 2006

rebuild! restore! reconsider!

unexplained absences like these are totally going to foil my plan to become a famous blogger with a large and powerful readership. unfortunately this update will likely be completely devoid of any salacious details or titillating tidbits that might otherwise have the whole of the internet at my doorstep.

this last week i flew home to the united states for an exit interview. exit interviews, for those of you who aren't familiar with the terminology, are what you do when you don't get into med school. if you the reader are finding this out for the first time and are like most of the people i've told already, your next question is probably "didn't get into which one?", to which the answer is all of them. if you the reader are at all like me you are probably similarly reeling with disbelief. (ok, i didn't really reel in disbelief or expect anyone else to do the same).

the interview was on monday, and i found out that my scores and grades and everything are all good and should not be changed, but that the person who interviewed me, while pleased with my interpersonal skills, was not convinced i really wanted to be a doctor. i can understand his confusion, because the mailing address for applications to university of nebraska medical center janitor positions is only different by like two numbers. anyone could potentially make the mistake.

so they encouraged me to apply again (they even told me i'd be a strong candidate (again)!) and agreed that my experience here would probably make my desire to be a physician more palpable, more real, more...documentable.

this setback seemed pretty frustrating at first, but at this point doesn't seem like a particularly big deal, and will probably end up being useful in a couple different ways down the line. we shall see.

anyway, i was back at work today and i watched brain surgery. brain surgery rules. it rules. should i be taking my camera to work with me? do you all want to see brain surgery pictures? if any of you who are about my age had similar time-passing habits around 3:30 on weekday afternoons around first through fourth grade (by which i mean watched teenage mutant ninja turtles the cartoon), you might have also wondered if brains really pulsate like that one bad guy who was just a brain controlling a robot (but had eyeballs and mouth inexplicably on the surface of the brain). and now i can tell you they really do pulsate like that. and it's really, really, REALLY cool.

by the way, let's all sing the praises of wiki one more time,
  • because this is too awesome.

  • i promise i'll get back to more regular updates...starting...now!

    14 March 2006

    la mano sangrienta

    they finally came! it's the pictures of the mangled hand! one last time, a warning: these pictures are pretty gory and if blood, broken bones, displaced pieces of skin, missing fingers, or the like scares you, don't follow these links.

  • here's the top of the hand before

  • here's the palm of the hand before

  • here's the x-ray before

  • here's the hand during surgery

  • here's the hand post amputation

  • here's the x-ray post

  • here's post-surgery--the fingers made it!

  • another post view
  • 12 March 2006

    sunday evening photo extravaganza!

    that's right--it's time for a bunch of pictures! i had a fantastic weekend and saw a whole bunch of great things. the first week here has been very stressful and difficult in many ways, but i didn't decide to do this to work on my tan, so i'm glad the learning opportunities have already started. and besides that, it's been lots of fun!

    quito is divided into new quito and old quito. new quito looks like an american city, and old quito looks like this, with plazas and colonial architecture. when i saw that statue in the distance i just HAD to go see it. so i did. by the way, did you know you can make the pictures bigger by clicking on them? you can.

    here's a shot from halfway or so up.

    here's me and the statue. i think we hit it off ok.

    this guy's name is marco. he saw me try to get that picture about 10 times before i got it right. he asked if i needed help, and i said we could take each other's picture. i think he thought that was weird, but eventually he agreed. that's the city in the background.

    here's the city. it's big! and isn't it pretty? it's tucked away in a valley. anyway, that's what i did saturday morning. saturday afternoon was church stuff time.

    awana translates to oansa in spanish. remember the balloon under the legs and the last kid has to run it back to the front? these kids are ok at it, but i totally would have won if they let me play. oh, i pleaded! i begged!

    if i didn't tell you the kids were awesome and i had a lot of fun with them, i think this picture would probably cover that fact. or the next one.

    take a minute to soak this picture up. first notice that i very nearly made it into the picture. next, notice that the camera is on the ground, and then notice the hot chocolate spilling out of the cup that my camera is about to soak up. now notice once again how cool all the kids are.

    this morning i went to mass at the cathedral you may have noticed sticking up in some of the other pictures. here's what it's like inside.

    here's the cathedral from up close. i don't know who thought the clocks were a good idea...i guess it was high tech at the time or something.

    ok, so that's it for the photo fun! i have about a million other pictures, but i'll spare you. until i get mangled hand photos, of course.

    11 March 2006

    in the OR

    here are some people i work with. they're all pretty nice, but unfortunately the two ladies with whom i spend most of my time, and whom i most enjoy, weren't there when i took the picture, so this is sorely lacking. it seems likely there will be more later.

    anyway, my first week of work is done. glorious! i'm finally getting the swing of things, which means more freedom (obviously) and less boredom. halfway through the week this internationally renowned pediatric orthopedic surgeon from the US arrived to work for three weeks, as he does once a year. it's been great talking with him and watching him work. he works a lot with cerebral palsy kids, and yesterday i observed while he shortened one leg to match the other leg, which involved removing the plate that had previously been placed in the boy's hip, cutting out a chunk of the femur, shortening the hamstring, and lengthening the quadricep. then there were botox injections to reduce the spasticity of those muscles as well as those in his hands, which are constantly held so tight that he's always bent at the wrist. the way botox puts old ladies' faces to sleep turns out to be invaluable in treating kids like this, because while the muscles are sort of paralyzed for several weeks, physical therapy can stretch the muscles, and with time normal usage can return. needless to say, i'm fascinated at every step and this is starting to look like an invaluable experience for me.

    the dude with the hand got it smashed in a machine at work. he ended up keeping his ring and pinky fingers--the rest was amputated. the next day the doc brought his camera and showed me tons of pictures he'd taken. i gave him my email address and asked him to send me them, but that hasn't happened yet. i'll keep pestering him, though, and maybe you all will get to see it! (don't worry, i'll just post links to the shots for those of you who don't want to be greeted with that kind of fun upon coming to this page).

    ok, this was a relatively dry entry, but that's just the way it is sometimes!

    07 March 2006

    i'm official!

    see? it's true! i started work this week, and i've really liked it so far. presently i work in the operating rooms prepping the instruments for surgeries and transporting patients from rooms to the surgery area. it's not as much dealing with patients as i was hoping for to start out with, but it's only starting out, and it's turned out to be all kinds of fun. i've met a whole bunch of nurses i like a lot who speak to me in spanish and who don't mind how long it takes me to prep a particular surgical procedure or how many times i make them repeat the english names of instruments in accents so thick i think it's a spanish word i've never heard before.

    (the next paragraph is pretty graphic. don't read it if you're squeamish or you want to live with the terrible sensation of having missed out on something really really cool. otherwise, read on because it's awesome!!!)

    as a bonus, i often sneak over to watch the surgeries. today a trauma patient came in with a hand so mangled it looked like someone with a congenital hand defect had tried to commit suicide by cutting his fingers and thumb free of his hand. with a hammer. no, wait--worse than that. look at your hand. see how if they're relaxed they all kind of curve one direction? most of this guy's hand did that. in the x-ray, one of his fingers pointed exactly the opposite direction of the rest, and one took a right angle turn at the first knuckle and his thumb seemed to be seriously considering sending a declaration of independence to the rest of the hand. and then there was his palm area. take a moment to appreciate how many bones there are between your wrists and your fingers. feel around there and notice them all--there's a lot! this guy probably has a lot more pieces of bone between there than you do. i say probably because on the x-ray it was all just a big white blur. you just couldn't make out anything. to give you a feel for the general state of this guy's hand, consider that the doctor had been tooling around in there, cutting, removing, suctioning, for probably 10 minutes before he declared "i found a tendon!" to the nurse. no one besides me laughed in the operating room, but am i the only person who thinks that's kind of funny? maybe you had to be there. and not be everyone else who was there besides me. hm. maybe the problem is me.

    sorry if that was too graphic. unfortunately i didn't even come close to adequately describing the scene that was that guy's hand.

    05 March 2006

    settling, etc.

    here's the sunset the first night i got into ecuador. i guess it's pretty alright, right?

    so far my time has been spent getting settled here and acclimated to the altitude (about 2 miles high) and the missionary culture and the being here. i'm pretty sure it's the altitude that's giving me these headaches, and everyone says that goes away in a couple days. so...hooray!

    on the acclimating to missionary culture tip, the first day i got here a missionary took me out to lunch. he was talking about his daughter growing up and that struggle for him. he told me he'd always liked country music, and now that she was getting older she was requesting certain music and how that was hard. he mentioned her asking for shania twain's new cd, and that that made him uncomfortable. let's cut to jeremy the music nerd's thoughts, shall we? "yeah, that'd be pretty hard for a country music purist to take--she's more generic pop than country, while still claiming some of country's aesthetics. but maybe it's more her image and lyrics. i'll ask why he's uncomfortable just to make sure." dan replies that he's not comfortable with some of the values she advocates in her music, so i nod my head enthusiastically and agree. gosh, that was close.

    anyway, tomorrow i will start working at the hospital. i'm pretty excited to check that out, and a little nervous, too. apparently next week is a busy week because some surgical specialist is there, so i'm guessing it'll be a little stressful right from the beginning. but i came here to learn and to serve, so i guess there's no point in waiting around for things, right?

    03 March 2006

    we have touchdown!

    this post is coming to you live from ecuador! unlike the falsified moon landing, though, i really am here, and hopefully very soon i will have not faked photos to prove it. hopefully those will also show a bit of the area i live in, and what the house/my room looks like. you'll see, all in good time.

    needless to say, i'm excited stupid to be here and would be napping now to make up for the nearly no sleep i got last night if i wasn't too excited to be here to sleep. this happiness for being here is just barely enough to make me feel better about having gotten into miami so late (after midnight) that i only had time to go to a hotel, go to bed, think about the guitar part on "big house" by audio adrenaline, imagine myself playing it (probably to a throng of adoring christian fans), realize i left my guitar on the plane, wake up in a start, call the airline which was obviously closed, go back to a fitful sleep before waking up at 5:15 to make more calls, get my guitar with enough time to board the plane but not enough time to locate and give patronage to an airport cinnabon (the second most important reason for visiting miami), and then arrive here, sans breakfast. what i'm trying to say is, i missed seeing shaq. but despite that huge setback so early in the trip, i'm still happy about my whereabouts. and my howabouts. you know. it's a good thing, being here.

    when i went to this page i was pretty pumped i had 7 comments. ok, so maybe most of them were some kind of internet craziness devilry, but the point still stands that it would be pretty cool if that actually happened. so post away! until next time...

    oh, by the way, i don't really think the moon landing was faked. just for the record. and i really am in ecuador. i'm totally not just hiding in miami, going to the clubs in search of shaq. or jlo. or snoop.

    02 March 2006

    lift off!!!

    so, it's officially time to leave the united states of awesome and try something new. thanks to everyone who wished me a hearty farewell. and i guess the non-hearty, limp ones were appreciated, too. in case you've already forgotten, tonight i fly from chicago (i got my visa just fine, by the way) to miami, where i'll spend the night (spotting shaq at all the hott clubs) before i fly out to ecuador in the morning.

    those of you who received my initial "come to my blog!" email are doubtless wondering where all the limitless wit and humor i seemed to have been so enamored of went. or you were wondering what exactly i thought was humorous in the first place. well...i don't know. sorry. but maybe in the future i'll be funny. come back soon to see!