Second week… Success!

July 29, 2009 at 2:51 am Leave a comment

Wow we are about half way done here!!  Which makes me really sad L  I feel like we are all finally fitting in here and getting the hang of things.  This week was a really short working week because we had Monday off for the national holiday as the 30 year anniversary of the government revolution, and Friday was pretty much a half day because there was a procession here in Diriamba for San Sebastian, the town’s protective saint.  Every city (I think) has a protective saint, and one day each year they celebrate it with a festival and procession where they have a church service, raise the saint’s statue from the church, and carry it down the streets with a parade of dancers in crazy outfits, horses, and tons of people.  On Friday July 24, the 3 cities of Diriamba, Jinotepe and Dolores (which are all really close) each process to Jinotepe, where they meet for a huge party.  As the saints are carried through the streets, people walk with them, so the crowds get bigger and bigger.  There are horses dancing, boys in colorful caps with crazy hats topped with peacock feathers, sellers selling food, people walking with sashes as saints, the men carrying the saint statue on their shoulders, men and women dancing traditionally in traditional clothes with long flowing dresses.  But mostly tons of people!!  And then on the main highway from Diriamba to Jinotepe, the Pan American Highway, it looked like a massive Latin American tailgate!  People were all sitting under pop-up tents with piles of liquor and beer bottles everywhere and cooking food.  It was crazy!  Anyway, so Rita and I left early for lunch on Friday to see the procession, but then we went back to work afterwards because we didn’t want to miss the whole day.  But then no one was around and we didn’t have anything to do.  This actually was an incredible blessing because we started talking to the hospital receptionist Veronica, who is a super cute nice little lady.  She has been working there for 25 years and therefore knows everyone!  Key person to be friends with!  We sat at the entrance/exit of the hospital, so she would introduce us to everyone that passed.  We definitely met more people that afternoon than the whole past 2 weeks- doctors, nurses, helpers (ayudantes).  We also asked and received permission to watch a surgery in the OR next week.  We even got to hold a brand-new baby!  He was only minutes only but adorable!  The nurse cleaned him up, put clothes on him, and then let us hold him before bringing him to his mom.  So adorable!  I also asked Veronica bazillions of questions about the hospital, health care system in Nicaragua, and everything else I could think of.  She was so full of information.  Shocking bits include:  the average age to give birth in the hospital is 16! The normal number of children is up to 8!  There are 6 nuns that work at the hospital and also live there! There are no engineers, technicians, or mechanics at the hospital- just helpers/ ayudantes like Harold and Cheyo!

            Which brings me to our work this week.  Tuesday was an awful day but then Wednesday and Thursday more than made up for it as we were actually able to fix some things!  We planned on Tuesday to finish up with one of the fetal Doppler monitors that we had taken apart, cut and were resoldering a new connection.  Well it kept going back and forth between working (when it sounded beautiful with no noise!) and not working (in which there would be no noise).  It was working and then we taped the wires to protect them, and then it stoped and we haven’t got it working sense.  Sor Ligia also brought it a new Doppler that used to be the working one but then quit working.  We also tried to use the Carbon pieces that we bought last weekend in Jinotepe, but when we asked Harold who was the one who suggested them, he said that the ones we got were too small.  We also tried to figure out how the baby incubator worked since we reconnected the wire.  We used a multimeter to determine the voltage and current across 2 nodes that we saw to see if we could just add this lamp to the circuit.  Rita first measured 120 V but then after trying to measure voltage, it only measured 0.5 V.  After turning the multimeter to a different setting to see if the wire was open or short, it continuously said short which was wrong.  We then discovered that we blew a fuse in the multimeter trying to measure the 10 A current.  Now we have to go back that too!  Good thing we already had to go back.  Glad that we brought 2 multimeters.  So Tuesday we broke things rather than fixed them.  Oh except we did meet some friends!  When we were walking into the hospital Tuesday morning, we stopped to talk to a different receptionist was cross-stitching.  As we were standing there talking to her, these 2 other non-local looking guys in scrubs walk in.  We started talking in English J and found out that they are undergrad students from Canada working with about 15 others for a Canadian NGO.  These guys, Anthony and Brock, are shadowing a pediatrician in our hospital who speaks a bit of English, helping her catch babies, give shots and vitamins, and just learning.  I’m not going to lie- I’m a bit jealous when I heard that Anthony got to catch a baby when a patient had a C-section.  However, Wednesday was an awesome day!  Out Canadian friends came by to visit again with more people that we got to meet.  We also returned some of the working equipment that we had been storing in our room: 2 centrifuges, ear/eyes/throat lamps, and 1 Doppler (that we took apart but didn’t do anything to fix it).   We tried splicing together more Dopplers by mixing parts: body, speaker, transducer.  But then we gave it to Sor Ligia, the director, and she said she could not hear anything.  We then decided that all the transducers were the problems.  I cut and stripped 2 transducers in order to put them together as a good connection and a good head.  Rita also found a manual online for an infusion pump and figured out how to use it!  We then met up with the Canadians in Jinotepe for amazing Chinese food!  We also saw their “Base Camp”  where they live, it is soo luxurious… free internet, a garden, classes there, a guard, kitchen for cooking, and lots of other English speakers!  As nice as that might be every once in a while, I am so glad we are staying with a family in a homestay because we are getting the real Nicaragua- bucket showers, Spanish, and all!

            Thursday, we finished splicing the Doppler and it worked!!!  We also finished the instructions for the bedside monitor with color-coded plug-ins and everything.  We showed it to both Cheyo and Sor Ligia, and they both said it was good!!!  We are still stuck on the Defib and EKG machines.  We also asked Harold about the carbon for the centrifuge, and he said we are missing a metal plate.  Ugh!   Thursday night we stayed up and watched the Mexico- Costa Rica soccer game with my host girl.  It was great to talk to her!  I also found the scoop about the feud between Costa Rica and Nicaragua as she as rooting for Mexico over her Latin American country.  Friday morning, we finished translating and presented the Infusion Pump to Sor Ligia- complete with 3 sets of instructions including alarms.  But she didn’t want it yet.  Lots of people were cleaning out a closet near ours which was full of donated medical supplies.  Everything is donated!  Yet there are whole closets full of supplies and more equipment keeps popping up.  On Friday, Sor Ligia wheeled in another baby incubator, just to tell us that we needed to buy a new sensor.  There are many things that they show us just to get us to buy a certain part.  That got Rita and I frustrated because our purpose here was not necessarily to buy them what they want considering that is not a long-term solution.  Also, Rita and I were noticing how very few people will talk to us.  We try to say hi to the doctors and/or nurses, but they kept running away.  I don’t know if there is a cultural stigma between mechanics and doctors that prevents forming relationships.  Also, for the fact that all of the equipment and supplies are donated, they are very particular about their equipment.  Even if something is slightly off, they will not accept it and say it is broken.  When we return with equipment that is fixed, the people are not that excited and barely say thank you.  It is rather strange.  I’m thinking that it is a culture thing in that everyone just has their own jobs, and everyone does there job as expected.  People don’t say thank you very much at all.  So I guess that we are expected to fix the equipment and that is that.  But we were excited about our victories this week and the relationships that we are forming.  We hope this coming week to further those especially in order to figure out what to do for our secondary project. 

            We also formed some great relationships with the family this week.  We watched the end of the Mexico vs. Costa Rica soccer game with the daughter Eulisa    and got to talk to her a bunch.  We also are beginning to communicate better with the grandmother, and she taught me how to cook some things tonight.  I also started going to this gym across the street run by this tiny little lady in her house.  I asked to join, and then she started telling me what to do- 5 min warm-up on the bike in her kitchen, then 4 sets of 12 of all the weight exercises from squats to leg curls, leg extensions, lunges, to leg press where I was literally lying in the middle of her kitchen. She just kept taking me to more and more. She kept laughing too because I was so sweaty and bright red.  It was soo hard!  I was not expected it at all from the 5 ft Nicaraguan lady! It was fun though, and she is honestly endearing. 

            This weekend we traveled after the festival to Masaya and Granada on Saturday.  Masaya is a city with a huge, huge market full of tons of souvenir-type gifts, and because of that it was all white tourists there.  There were also kids walking around making things out of grass to sell and even these kids acting as missionaries who would come up and talk to you and then return to shove a Bible in your hand and  then return to ask for money for food.  It was very interesting.  Then Granada, which is now very touristy as many ex-pats from the US and Europe come to retire or vacation there.  It is a very old colonial town on the beach of Lake Managua, so it is beautiful! There are tons of huge churches!  We saw 2 weddings just walking around Saturday night.  It was so strange to see so many Gringos, hear English, and eat American food (we had the best burgers Saturday night).  I’m definitely going to have big time culture shock going back to Durham if this was a shock for me!  It definitely was still Nicaragua though as we had kids that came up to us in the middle of dinner begging for food, kids break dancing in the streets for money that were amazing, men juggling fire for money.  I think this would be a great place for next year to take Spanish classes as it is still Nicaragua so the students could learn Nicaraguan Spanish rather than Costa Rican and visit Nicaraguan hospitals, yet it is still more Americanized than our towns for culture customization.  Just a thought.  I loved Costa Rica but it is so different from here.  Nicaragua definitely has more culture I think.  That night we also stayed literally in a giant room with 10 bunk beds in the back of a restaurant on the main strip with an outhouse.  It was super cheap and fun but very hot and rather odd.  On Sunday, we kayaked through the 265 islands in the lake, which was beautiful and super fun!  We walked along the beach on the way there, which was nice but pretty dirty and deserted.  It was strange.  The kayaking was fun though, and we got a great deal.  Most of the people who own businesses in Granada can speak both English and Spanish as most are from Nicaragua, but lived in the states (typically Texas or California) for some time and then returned.  Interesting!

            This Monday was a kinda frustrating day at the hospital.  It was very slow day and pretty empty. We asked around for information about Casa Saria, a company that we are buying parts from, but no one was around for help.  At the end of the day, we called and the manager told us that he is sending out an engineer to get more information.  When I told him that we were engineers and knew what we needed, he did not accept that answer.  Pretty frustrating just because we don’t have unlimited funds or unlimited money, but we told him we were leaving soon and that we might not buy anything if it was too expensive.  He still wanted to send the engineer out, so we will see.  We also had to wait for Harold to return to ask about replacing the carbon in the centrifuge.  We made the pieces that we needed from aluminum foil according to Cheyo, but then when Harold came, he said you couldn’t use foil but needed real metal.  He then made the piece and properly installed the carbon.  When we tried it, it still didn’t work because the motor was been worn down so its curved.  Ugh so after 2 trips to Jinotepe to buy carbon, we couldn’t actually fix it.  We did ask Harold about his education, and he said that he studied electricity in school and just knows other stuff from his experience.  He knows what he is talking about, while I think Cheyo is more of a handyman.  Harold is currently on vacation until the end of the week, but he said that he normally works 8 to 3.  We are discovering that Nicaraguans don’t like to work and take a lot of vacation!  There is apparently a 20-day party here in Diriamba where there is no work and people come from all over- all cities in Nicaragua, US, Costa Rica, etc.  Crazy!  And each city has a festival like this but different dates so everyone can go to them all.  Our host family was telling us about this and that Nicaraguans like to party! 

            We also returned a centrifuge that was working but missing tubes.  We saw the other centrifuges that we returned last week just sitting on a table unused.  We also are still holding onto the infusion pump that we wrote instructions too because Sor Ligia doesn’t want it yet.  The hospital is rather strange.  The emergency respiratory clinic was closed today, and there were very few patients.  For example, there were only 2 children in the pediatric wing with broken arms.  Veronica said that the hospital was free and they didn’t refuse service to anyone, but our Canadian friends said that it is semi-private and that they have refused to treat some people.  I haven’t figure it out yet.  I honestly thought that there would be people lining the hallways, but it is instead hardly full.  There are many people waiting in the emergency department and the clinic across the street, so maybe those are the free parts and the others are not.  We also glued on a piece to fix a nebulizer today by cutting up a different connector.  Hopefully it will work tomorrow.  We are planning to walk around to each department and ask if they have any broken equipment or any needs or wants. We need some new projects because what we have left are at a standstill.  Anyway, we will see what this week brings.

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First week Happy August!

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