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Showing posts from July, 2012

Less is More

In this post, I'm testing the philosophy that less is more, simply because it is pretty hard to describe how amazing it is to hike around here, even when that means you have to wake up at some un-godly hour of the middle of the night and hike by the light of a headlamp.

Picture it.

It is 3 in the morning, you are clambering over volcanic rocks, breathless because the air is thin, farther up the mountain you can see the lights of a group that is further ahead. You are wearing three layers of pants (which makes high stepping up onto all these rocks a little more challenging), two pairs of socks, a shirt, a fleece, a jacket, gloves, a hat, etc, but you are still cold. You have to stop to breath, but you can't stop for too long because it is COLD (did I already mention that it is cold? Whooops!). You can see all kinds of constellations, shooting stars, and the weird refracted light off of the snow from the peak that looms closer and closer. If you succeed you will arrive at the s…

Surgeries and the Our Father

Over the last couple of weeks, I have had the great privilege of working with a team of volunteers and surgeons here in hospital Goyeneche. I was the RN in charge of the Pre-op area. Which meant that a team of nursing students and I got the patients from their beds in the hospital wards, placed their IVs, took baseline vitals, double checked for drug allergies and time NPO, and then sat with them while they waited to be cut open.

We also got to duck in and out of the operating rooms and see a lot of surgeries like septoplasties, laparoscopic gallbladder removal, hernia repairs and hysterectomies.

It was a huge honor to work with this team of proficient and compassionate people, and to work with the Peruvians from the hospital who were translating and helping us problem solve. It's pretty amazing how these things come together. By the end of the two weeks, we had the routine of patient in, patient on the table, patient in recovery, down to an art form. It was almost effortless, a…

Happy/Sad: How is your Quechua? and Haitian prayers

This week we have a huge team here in Arequipa doing a surgical outreach at hospital Goyeneche where I work. It's weird because I'm working with Americans and Canadians, but sometimes I feel most comfortable siting down and chatting with my Peruvian friends in Spanish. It's very exciting to be a part of this project and see people come in for surgeries that they wouldn't be able to afford unless these surgeons volunteered their time.

Here is some snazzy fun for those of you who are linguistically inclined. Can you match the Quechua word with it's English equivalent? There are tons of words in Quechua that start with the "ch" sound. See if you can mix and match them correctly.


1. Chancho                                                                         A. A volcano

2. Choclo                                                                            B. Work

3. Chichani                                                                         C. Chinese …

Home Visit in the Mountains

Two physical therapist and a nurse on a home visit, in a field.


Feli our Quechua translator, Tajel and Stephanie (PTs) and our patient. He was paralyzed at the age of 14 and is wheelchair bound. We evaluated him under a tin roof while it was raining. Then his aunt brought us hand made cheese and toasted corn.

The family farm, chakra (in Quechua)

The cute donkey

After our home visit we walked through Quinua Pampa a city up at 10,000 ft.

In which the Mountains take my breath away and the Ocean makes me cry

Hola mi gente,

I am pleased to announced that we all survived another night bus experience and the 24+ hour drive from the city of Ayacucho. We were there last week doing clinic stuff, learning songs in Quechua, taking cold showers, and making home visits.

Well, something happened to my heart on the way to Ayacucho (start the dramatic music).

There we were driving around the crazy hairsplitting turns in a small bus, six people, some sleeping others looking out the window. We reached the top of the mountains and there were miles and miles  of gently sloping hills and wind carved bluffs with the sky shining in the background. I have never seen such a bright sun as the one that shines on the mountains in Peru. The only thing that thrives in this high bright place are the llamas, and the people who herd them. When we were on the top of the mountain it began to rain, and then the rain turned to snow. Vicinte, our driver/superman, took the turns slowly, a few of us exchanged knowing glances.…