Friday, March 14, 2014

Week 10: Halfway There

     I have been in India for 10 weeks now. It seems like ages, but at the same time not very long.  I find myself much more at ease with the country and less of a tourist.  I know what it should cost me on public transportation to get around certain areas, what a hostel should cost, and how to haggle banana's down.  I know how to get to and use the New Delhi metro with my reloadable metro card.  The twins I live with have learned my name, call me "Alyssa didi" (didi is the term for big sister), and want to play daily.  I have a limited Hindi vocabulary, but it is much more than what I started with. The biggest smile broke across my face this week as an indescribable feeling of independence rushed through me: I was able to take a tuk-tuk to a popular stop, not find what I was looking for, walk around a while in a neighboring market until I found that shop, then get home...never once feeling lost, and all safely by myself.  I am now the old seasoned volunteer, helping the new ones out and explaining how things work.

     This week passed fairly quickly in a surgical placement at Ghai Hospital. I was able to see a cesarean section (my 4th one), the removal of 2 tumors from a woman's ankle, 2 laparoscopic cholecystectomies (my 2nd and 3rd ones), and check up on all of the hospital's patients.  Today, Caleb and I were able to talk with the doctor about health care and sanitary practices in India, which was interesting to learn about.  The doctors here don't use gloves unless they are touching a bad wound, coming in contact with blood, or performing surgery. In my surgery shadowing, I was happy to see sterile practices used for the equipment, but a few things still surprised me: the surgeon and his assistants were the only ones wearing scrubs ( just for the surgery, then they changed), the anesthetist commonly answered his cell phone during the procedure, if someone wasn't actively involved in the surgery they didnt need to have their hair covered or a mask on, and to enter the operating room you have to remove your shoes and put on flip-flops! Hand sanitizer is not something used at all by any of the staff.  When the hospital gets a tuberculosis patient, there is no separate ward for the patient or any special practices used to protect the physicians treating him/her.  India has government-run hospitals that treat the poor for free, but those hospitals do not always have properly-trained staff, and someone could be on the waiting list for 3 months just for an ultrasound. The hospital we were placed in is a private hospital that has 40 beds and charges prices typically paid by the middle class.  There are also larger private hospitals with even better physicians that are more costly and typically serve the upper class.

    There is much excitement among us volunteers, because Holi is this Monday! Holi is the Hindu festival of colors. It is held around the spring equinox to celebrate the victory of good over evil, and is a day to forgive any animosity in your relationships and make up and be happy. It is celebrated by a Holika bonfire the evening before, followed by the day of Holi where people throw colored powders and spray each other with colored water so that everyone is a giant rainbow mess.  If any of you have heard of or done a Color Run, this is where that comes from.  A few of us volunteers are going to a party being held in a farm house in New Delhi that is supposed to have many foreigners and expats in attendance.  There will be food, music, and of course color play.    

     I will post another entry after Holi to talk about all of the holiday shenanigans.

     And now....on to my last 10 weeks in India!

Much love,

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