El Hospital

Confession:  During the first 5 weeks of the program in Puerto, I was having doubts about the whole medical thing.  I would go to the clinics for 4 hours in the morning, and sit there and listen to “consultas” about basic sicknesses like the flu or the cold, diabetes, hypertension, and other things that I am not really too interested in.  In all honesty, I was counting down the minutes until clinic was over, I was out of Spanish class, and I was at the beach taking a surf lesson.  Meanwhile, the other students would come to class and say things like, “Wow!  I learned so much in the clinic today.  It was great.  I got to hear all about diabetes, and learn about the sicknesses in the tropical community of Puerto Escondido.”  Then I would unenthusiastically add, “No había nada.  Fue un pocito aburrido para mi,” conveying my lack of amusement with los Centros de Salud.  I really wanted to be interested in what I was doing, but the truth was that I was not nearly as excited as my fellow students.  How were they so excited?  Why wasn’t I?  This actually made me nervous, because I started questioning whether or not I should still be pre-med… then the next question was, “If not pre-med, then what?”

Luckily my doubts were settled towards the end of my program.  At the beginning of my 6th week in Puerto Escondido, I got assigned to the local hospital, La Parota.  When talking to the hospital’s director, I expressed my interest in becoming a surgeon (well, I’d never actually seen a surgery… but blood, stitches, and fixing people always sounded cool).  After our conversation, he took me to get a uniform to enter the quirófano, aka surgery room.  When I walked in, the anesthesiologist, surgeons, and nurses introduced themselves.  ”Vamos a operar.  Una cesaria,”  said the anesthesiologist.  Cesarian?  Whoa.  Seeing the shocked look on my face, he asked, “You’ve seen surgeries before, right?  A lot of blood.”  ”Umm…nope.”  After I said no, I interpreted his facial expression to mean something along the lines of: “¡Mierda!  This girl’s going to pass out, we’re trying to deliver a baby, not good.”  Then they added that if I felt bad, I should leave.  Yikes.

I moved to the back of the room, where I could see everything that was going on.

“Knife, skin, whoa knife on skin, stomach, cut, that scar won’t look good in a bikini, blood, oh my goodness this is real life, fat, more blood, some muscle, more blood, blood, I’m adopting, blood, hair?  Hair in the…stomach?  Baby’s head!  Neck, whoa whole baby, it’s kind of purple? Crying baby, good that means it’s alive, purple baby must be normal, more blood, umbilical cord, more blood, blood, giant weird looking thing, oh so that’s a placenta, more blood, more crying, mom smiles, more blood, this is cool, I just watched that, I’m smiling, I can’t stop smiling, I must look funny because I can’t stop smiling, good thing I have a cubreboca over my mouth to cover this obnoxious grin that I cannot get rid of, medicine is cool.”

My mind was racing a mile a minute, and I was in awe after the short operation.  I never once felt uncomfortable or scared seeing the blood and surgical tools, and I was relieved that I was finally genuinely interested in what I was watching.  After spending my 6th week in Puerto in the hospital, I asked to spend my 7th and 8th there as well.  Luckily the director agreed to my proposal, and I was able to see a variety of operations dealing with problems related to hernias, prostate tumors, bone fractures, appendicitis, etc.  I was intrigued by all of the surgeries I got to watch, and I am less panicky about my future since I know that I still have an interest in becoming a surgeon.

The following are several pictures from my time at the hospital.  Some of them are graphic, so if you’re not good with blood and all that good stuff…well you should overcome your fear starting now because it’s pretty cool.

Meds and liquids and other things that I haven’t actually learned about in school, so I don’t know what they are yet.


Super inflamed appendix.  They suspected a tumor, so they sent it to get biopsied once removed.

Appendix (and other stuff?) once removed.

Listening to the baby’s heartbeat with some sort of very retro-style device. I’m unsure of its technical name.

You’re looking at a future surgeon (hopefully).

2 thoughts on “El Hospital”

  1. This is your best post yet! I’m so proud of you and proud to call you my best friend. I cant wait for you to cut me open!

  2. Ali, you had me on the edge of my seat with this post and it struck me that it went from a “low” to a definite “high”.

    I loved the way you described your observations during the surgical procedure and the
    delivering of the baby. I almost laughed out loud. But when you came to the part about
    the smile that you couldn’t contain that was the powerful part.

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