Sunday, January 29, 2012

All about nursing

[Warning: Long with nursing talk, whence the title]

I have only had a small window into what my nursing role will look like here on The Ranch.  Here’s a peak!

By helping a random kid:  We had an activity at the canchas (courts) of Buen Pastor last week, and when I arrived there was a little boy on the ground holding his knee and crying.  I tried to examine it, but I really didn’t know what to do (or what to say), and finally Heather (the current nurse) came over.  We ended up taking him to the Internal Clinic and getting a better look.  I think he was ok, just a rough hit, most likely horsing around with his friends.  But, it was good to see what to do in a situation like that.  Heather pretty much runs the show when there is no doctor around, as she is the only licensed medical professional (until I showed up!).  The other nurses are more like LPNs, or CNAs.  There is another girl, Rosa, who is in university for nursing, and will be a registered nurse.  Here in Honduras, to be a licensed, registered nurse you have to go through university.  Which actually is kind of cool.  Maybe Magnet Designation could be attainable here? Ha.

By working in the External Clinic:  Last week we also had morning training in our areas of work, so I was able to spend a little time in the External Clinic.  It’s a very different nursing role, something I knew to expect, but still a little surprising when I saw it first hand.  Again, Heather basically runs the show.  She opens the clinic, begins the flow of patients, and answers many, many questions.  It’s a lot more administrative than I was expecting, somehow.  There is another nursing student (I believe more LPN) who helps out and does ‘pre-clinic’ which consists of a small triage and vital signs.  Heather also takes turns doing this, depending on how many patients there are and for a change of pace.  Then, because there is only one doctor, the patients wait until their turn, which can be up to 5 hours.  It’s kind of sad to see them all waiting, but no one seems to complain, as this is their only way to get affordable and legit care.  Sometimes the doctor will need help with wound care, or prescribes nebulizer treatments or injections, etc which will be done by Heather, and soon by me!

And, by being the patient:  On Friday, we were supposed to have a full day of training, but unfortunately that didn’t happen for me.  As some of you may know, I have been a little sick for the last week, battling a sore throat that turned into fevers and aches.  Rings of the flu, huh??  Well, after a restless night and waking up my roommates and Heather (God Bless them!), I succumbed to actually seeing a doctor at the Internal Clinic.  Yes, yes, I know… I should have gone earlier, but it’s true that nurses sometimes make the worst patients.  The whole process was a little overwhelming, more because I had to try to do everything in Spanish when I had a fever and headache, and focusing in general was difficult.  The doctor examined me and said everything was fine, but was concerned about my fever of “unknown origin,” so she ordered a urinalysis.  Really?  Huh, I supposed that could make sense.  Um, I wasn’t convinced.  But, I did as I was told and then she said I had to take it to the external clinic where the lab was.  Seriously?  I have to take my pee all the way to there?  I mean, it’s a long walk in general, but when you are sick it’s like walking to the moon.  Thank the Lord, Kate (another volunteer who works in the surgery center next to the external clinic) needed to go down there and offered to take it for me so I could collapse back in my bed!  I went back later in the afternoon to get my results, and to my surprise, I have some sort of kidney/bladder/urinary tract infection.  I really feel like I have no symptoms to make this coincide with the results of the UA, but the doctor was concerned and ordered antibiotics.  I was happy about this because I just wanted some sort of antibiotics to kill whatever was causing me to be sick!  So, now I am on a daily dose of IV Ceftriaxone for 7 days.  Yup, I get to be poked every day somewhere new.  Now, when I got my first dose, I am not going to lie, I was a little nervous.  I mean, the first time I get an infection that requires IV antibiotics I am in another country?  Awesome.  So, I was watching Rosa (remember she is in school, but actually very, very good) like a hawk as she was preparing the med and looking for a vein (I was a little dehydrated), and then when she actually gave it to me.  I have to say she was pretty good, but it’s just a little nerve racking.  Alcohol wipes are like gold here, and are only used sparingly, so most of the time they use cotton balls soaked in alcohol or whatnot.  She also reused her glove, and then put it on inside out with the latex powder going everywhere.  And, I am not sure I have seen her wash her hands.  Ha, oh the joys of medicine in a different country.

Let me just say one more thing… all of this is for FREE!  I mean, 7 days of IV antibiotics in the US usually requires a hospital admission, which just makes things way more expensive.  But, a perk of being a volunteer here, your medical care is free.  Unless of course you need something more intense, then my international insurance would kick in.

I am feeling better today, thank God.  These antibiotics are doing their thing.  I am ready to move on and learn all about my job.  I am actually really looking forward to getting started next week with Heather, practicing my Spanish, and start helping people!  I mean, that’s why I am here, right?  Let’s get this party started!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Las Montanas

As many of you know, I am beach girl.  I love going to the beach.  I love the sand.  I love the sound of the crashing waves.  And, I love all of the memories that have included the beach throughout my life.

Because of this love for the beach, I haven’t really given many other things a chance.  Plus, I am not really an outside person in general, so going hiking in the mountains or camping or skiing would never really be something I would do and/or enjoy. 

But, since being in Honduras for well over a month now, I have an appreciation for the MOUNTAINS in this country.  They are amazing.  It’s not something I even thought about prior, so I was surprised when they were EVERYWHERE!  They surround the airport, we twisted and turned on the way to Copan Ruinas, I traveled up and down them for various excursions, they are all the way to the coast, they are literally on the coast and even on Roatan.  Now that I am at NPH, we are surrounded by them, as well.  Travelling to and from Tegus, I have seen some of the most picturesque views of the mountains.

There is definitely something majestic and magical about them.  They are a natural beauty.  I am always reminded of God’s beauty when I see the ocean/beach, but I have been bombarded by His amazing beauty from the mountains, as well.  It’s also a great reminder that God is everywhere, even in a country where it’s not always safe to walk outside, people struggle to find food or are dying of very treatable/preventable diseases.  He is here and is everywhere.  And, that is awesome. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Los Hogares

There are many different homes (hogares) here on The Ranch, divided by girls (Talita Kumi), boys (Buen Pastor) and babies (Casa Suyapa).  Each hogar (there are about 6 in Talita Kumi and Buen Pastor) has kids of the same age and/or maturity level.  These first two weeks we (the newbies) get to go with the current volunteers to their hogares, so that we can get a feel for them, so we then can make a decision on which one we want to be with for the year.  It’s been a fun experience so far.  The kids definitely make this place. : )

In both Buen Pastor and Talita Kumi there are hogares for special needs kids (and even a few adults).  NPH also has a home in Tegus, Casa Angeles, for the severely mentally and physically handicapped.  Other than gang affiliation, NPH really accepts all kids, no matter where they come from, whether they have been to school, or if they have a disease/disorder/handicap.  It’s a pretty phenomenal thing.

There is also Casa Eva. This is a home of abuelos (grandparents).  These older people are not necessarily related to any of the kids on The Ranch, but really had no other place to go.  Some are HIV positive, some are really sick, and some are just old and have no family.  There is actually a young woman who had a stroke, and her three kids (the youngest in the baby home) live on The Ranch.  It’s such an awesome thing to have for both the pequenos and the abuelos to have each other.  Yesterday we had some cafĂ© y pan (coffee and bread… such a Honduran thing) with them.  They love just chatting and laughing.  It was a great time.

Every other weekend we work, which means we are with our hogar for the day.  So, today, I have been with Hailey and her girls, Hermanas de Jesus, which are the really girly teenagers, who don’t like having new people around.  So, I was a little nervous about meeting them, but overall it has been good.  Most of them left me alone, but a few were really welcoming and helped me with my Spanish!

We have Mass this afternoon, and I am really looking forward to it.  All of us new voluntarios will also present ourselves in front of the almost FIVE hundred kids.  Ha, wish me luck!

Oraciones para ustedes! 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hold on tight, this life has begun!

Wow, how can I even begin to explain the craziness of this week?!  It has been full of emotions, new people, meetings, lots of walking (it seriously took us 3 days to walk the Ranch) and lots of information.  The six of us new volunteers have been getting along great, navigating through the nuances of integrating into the current volunteer group.  It’s always a challenge, but one that is embraced here on the Ranch.

After a few freak out moments with my dad (who is now home safe!), frantic Skype calls with mom, panic emails to friends, and yes a few tears, I am starting to feel like I actually will be able to do this.  Now, I am still not feeling wonderfully confident, but I am out of the initial “holy moly, this is going to be my life and I can’t do this” phase.  I am still very much worried about my Spanish, and just being able to adjust to life here.  The next few months are going to be the hardest, and hopefully things will then just make sense and feel right.

I don’t want to bore you all with the nitty gritty details.  It’s not really important.  Multiple people have said this (mom, dad, Volunteer Coordinator, NPH Honduras Director, etc): Remember why I decided on NPH.  For me, it’s the kids and to follow God’s call to help the poor of this world.  If I can focus on that, then the rest will fall into place.  Sometimes, easier said than done, but I am really going to try!

This week we also ventured into Tegus for the first time.  It’s definitely an experience!  The bus and van (taxi) ride alone were interesting.  The city is, well, a city.  Dirty, lots of people, homeless, the nicer parts and the parts we don’t walk down.  I was really cautious, but I wasn’t overly concerned or nervous.  It was a fun day with the older volunteers showing us the places to go (and not go) for food and other necessities.  We had lunch, did some shopping and then made the 45ish minute trip home.

Today, each of us newbies had a “Dia de Experencia” (Experience Day), where we either worked in the granja (farm), hortaliza (garden), tortilleria (tortilla factory) or la cocina (kitchen).  I had the pleasure of working in the granja.  I got to feed the chickens, rake some leaves, feed the bunnies, and collect some eggs.  It was a good experience to have because, 1) the pequenos work at each of these places, and it’s awesome to have some insight into their life and 2) I essentially helped prepare the food we will eventually eat on the Ranch!  We have one more day to do this next week, and I believe I will be in la conica!

Now for a few items that may interest you:
  • Taking a cold shower is best in the afternoon after a long hike.
  • Cutting a water bottle to capture a cockroach and tag-teaming the thing seems to work well.
  • I like beans, but eating them for breakfast is a little much.
  • The Ranch is huge… no, seriously.
  • Making tortillas is an art.
  • The power goes out frequently… it’s just the way it is.
  • I still really don’t like bugs.
  • I am getting used to the feeling of my clothes being dried outside.
  • The stars are STUNNING at night!
  • The kids are really cute.

A few pics: 
My bed... please excuse the disorganization.

The dorms... the other ladies' beds.

The other view.

And a few from when my Dad wandered:
Path on the way to the church

Jesus said: You all are my friends.

One view of the amazing mountains.

The church... outside. (I still actually haven't seen this in person, yet!)

View from the alter... it's like an amphitheater! :)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Fire Dancers and NPH

I have made it to NPH in Tegucigalpa!  So far, so good.

I will be living in the dorms (a room with bunk beds) with other new girls for the next month and then we will move into our regular room for the year.  We don't know much yet (barely know how to flush the toilet, as Michelle says), as our orientation officially kicks off tonight with a bonfire.

We will see what happens!  Please keep me in your prayers as I transition to this new life.  I will prayer for you!

Oh, and here is a video of the awesome fire dancers (one of them) that we saw on our last night at CocoView Resort.  (Sorry that it's sideways)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hola de Roatan!

A little taste of heaven, huh??

Yes, I am here.  I am with my Daddy.  And, things are good. :)

Last Saturday was another long day of traveling.  I had a very nice man, Jaun, drive me all the way from Copan Ruinas to La Ceiba (thanks mom and Paul!!) where I picked up the plane.  As I said before, I was nervous about all of my stuff being able to fit on the plane... and thank goodness for being early!  I had no problems at all.  
Yup, a puddle jumper.  18 seats!

I met with the lady from the resort, collected my bags and then headed to see my Dad!  I didn't realize the resort was on a little island off Roatan, so I had to take a two minute boat ride.  And, there, waiting for me was my DADDY!!  I was so excited to see him. :)  
Sorry for the blur!

Let me just say... I was in a bit of culture shock getting off the plane.  Roatan is like a completely different place.  I don't feel like I am in Honduras at all!  I am not the only white person, people speak English (even the people that work/live here prefer English) and the native Islanders (for all intents and purposes, black people) make for a more diverse crowd.  I was so excited when I first saw them at the airport, I seriously had the urge to run up to them and give them a hug.  Is that weird?!  I have asked a few of the people that work here at the resort to speak to me in Spanish, so I can at least practice.  It's still a little difficult, but I can only just keep trying, right?

While I have been here, I have gone diving...
Ha, great shot by my dad!  
My instructor told me to keep my hands together, and this is how I automatically did it. :)

Went to hang out with some dolphins and do a little snorkeling...
Pic courtesy of the Anthony's Key resort.

Played with the ADORABLE puppies...
They are all going to good homes.  
If I was going home after this, I would have figured out a way to take one with me!

Dad took some good shots on his dives...
Baby Sharpnose Puffer fish and a tube worm.

Lion Fish... beautiful, but an invasive fish that are causing issues to the surrounding life.

Orange Sea Horse!!! :)

I love this!  Dad doesn't know what it is. :)  A fish, obviously.

I have also relaxed and read and bronzed (or burned!) and ate... a lot.  Ha.  The food here at this resort is definitely catered toward the American tourist/divers... and I was not used to it.  I missed my tortillas and frijoles!  Luckily, at lunch they have been serving red beans and rice... so that has satisfied my fix.  Of course, in a very short time that is all I will be eating and then wish that I was back here with all of the other good food. :)

I am getting excited and little nervous for this weekend.  Dad and I will have a long day of travel starting early in the morning on Saturday, and then my time at NPH will begin!  I can't believe the time is so close.  I feel like I have been waiting and planning for this weekend for so long, it was always so far in the future!  But, it's here, so I have to get ready.  No matter what my worries and doubts and excitements are, I am about to face them head on.  God hasn't gotten me through this point alone, and He won't abandon me now.  His grace is truly amazing, even if I don't realize it every single day that I am in Honduras.  I seriously can't wait to see what He will reveal to me about myself, NPH and the world.  Bring it on, Lord, bring it on. :)

As is always the case, I am not sure when I will have internet again once I get to NPH.  I will update you all as soon as I can.  Love you all!  If you see my dad, tell him to give you a hug, because it will be from me!

Hugs, Kisses and Prayers!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Adios Copan Ruinas!!

Wow, I am leaving Copan tomorrow.  Four weeks ago I was totally freaking out about leaving my home, my family, my friends and everything else that I knew for a country that I had never been to.  Now, I am leaving a place that has become like home, again, leaving people and things that I have come to know.  It’s funny how that happens, huh?!  If you ever get a chance to go to Central America, be sure to put Copan Ruinas on your list of places to visit.  The people are friendly. The food is great.  The town is cute.  And, it’s close to Guatemala, so really, you could kill two birds with one stone.

Of course, if you want to learn Spanish, Escuela Guacamaya is a great place!

With any sort of travel comes it’s own stress, and this time is no different.  The weather has been less than perfect on the coast (and Roatan!) causing the ferry to be canceled consistently for the last few days.  All I want to do is see my Daddy and relax for a week!  So, on a whim I bought a plane ticket for the puddle jumper (literally takes 15 minutes to the island) so that I can guarantee I will get to the island to see my dad!  Perfect, right?  Well, what I didn’t think of is the weight limit for my bags.  Ugh, I thought I was going to be done with that for a year!  A little panic has ensued, where I have emailed one of my future co-volunteers, who is coming here to study, to see if she would consider taking one of my bags (rude, I know... remember, I was in panic mode, I have already apologized!), packing a box and shipping it to NPH (what if it gets stolen?), and the obligatory freaking out calls to my parents that don’t solve anything, just allows me to be me.

What have I decided?  Packing everything, knowing I will have to pay extra, and take my chances that there are no crazy hiccups.  I am also not opposed to begging.  So, here’s hoping all goes well!  And, by tomorrow afternoon, I will be getting a hug from my Dad (who will have a long list of hugs to give from people, I am sure) and laughing about the previous 24 hours!

Oh the joys of traveling with all of your belongings that you need for a year!

I am not sure when I will have access to Internet again, so I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

La Escuela de Espanol

So, before I came to Honduras, I knew I needed to go to language school.  Obviously, English is my first language.  But, I had taken many courses in middle school, high school and college, and as many of you know, Washington, DC is becoming a place where Spanish could easily be spoken more in a day than English, so I felt as though I had some good practice under my belt.

HA.  I laugh at myself from back then.  Those families at the hospital who said I knew a lot of Spanish were clearly being generous.  I seriously knew nothing, or at least it felt like nothing.  So, I was eager to move into my host family’s home and begin classes.

I am extremely blessed to have an amazing teacher, Gaby.  As I have said before, she is young, spunky and extremely knowledgeable in her native language.  She herself works with a medical organization from Colorado as an interpreter (and other things), so has become knowledgeable with many things in the medical/nursing world.  She is also a devout Christian.  Seriously, could she be any more perfect for me?

I really thought that I would pick up Spanish quick and be able to converse with the people here.  I have been here for almost a full four weeks, and I am sad to say it’s still a huge struggle.  I have learned a TON, and am able to hold conversations, but they are not at the quality I thought they would be after a month.

My host family is so amazing on many levels, but they really don’t talk to me.  I am thinking that maybe if I was able to talk to them more freely (without always feeling self conscious because they are going to get annoyed that I don’t understand them) I would have a little more confidence to hold conversations with others.  I know it’s not their fault; it’s my own fear, worry, and doubt that are inhibiting me from just doing it.  But, I really don’t want to look stupid.

As my mom and Gaby both have expressed… WHO CARES?  I will always find a reason NOT to speak, but that is not helping anyone.  It doesn’t help me learn, and it most definitely will not help those kids I am going to help.  Why would they want to be with me if I can’t speak with them, or at least try, and know that they may make fun of me.  Ha, kids will be kids.

I am sorry for the less than cheery post, but I did say I was going to be honest throughout this blogging adventure.  I do ask that you please pray for me.  Please pray for my ability to be open and embrace the language.  Pray that my mind will clear of the doubt and worry, and to remind myself of God’s amazing call in my life.

I am praying for you all.  LOVE YOU!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Feliz Ano Nuevo!!

I hope everyone had such a wonderful weekend!  I ended up hanging out with a few friends at different places, but mostly at ViaVia, a bar that had a live band and some dancing.  I had a good time.  I was dreading midnight, though, because just like Christmas, the fireworks are CRAZY!!!

Here is a video I took of some fireworks that a guy just strung together multiple different ones... it was nuts.  Sorry for the shake, but I was running away a lot of the time because I didn't want to die.  I think I may have lost some hearing.  And, yes, that is me screaming. :)


Many blessings to you all as you begin this new year.  I have a feeling 2012 is going to be great! :)