Tuesday, January 8, 2008

First Days in Vellore

The CMC medical school campus is like a jungle oasis in the middle of a crazy rickshaw-filled city, so living here is very nice. Our accommidations are different, I learned we are lucky to have "squat" toilets, as opposed to hole in the ground, but there is a bucket and pitcher whose use I have not yet identified. I have learned you can shower with the equivalent of a faucet which is barely turned on, just beyond dripping.

Our room is on the fourth floor, so our view is pure tropical jungle plants, and our noises include supposedly "aggressive" monkeys, and the 4am music playing from the temple across the street. Apparently it is a holiday month, and that is part of how they celebrate. Good thing medical school taught me the beauty of ear plugs. I initially began using them as a way to keep myself from chatting too much with my studying neighbors at Starbucks, but this new use tops that, except for the fact that I overslept this morning, which meant 1. I missed breakfast and coffee, and 2. I had to sprint to the bus- which was actually a great bonding experience, as 4 Indian students were sprinting right along side me!

I worked in the Labor and Delivery ward all day today, which was definitely a learning experience! I saw 2 forceps deliveries, one resultant facial palsy (which thankfully resolved rather quickly, according to the neonatologist), a woman with severe hirsutism, to the point that she was truly a bearded lady, but after 9 yrs of infertility she had finally conceived. I learned that not all suture comes pre-attached to the needle, and that no one seems to mind when the doctor calls for cat gut. Just about every basic medical supply can be used for multiple purposes (ie. gloves are tourniquets), and the basic paperwork/lab tests/delivery notes are pretty much the same everywhere.

The biggest difference was the total lack of pain medications, epidurals, or spinals. All births are "natural", and the level of screaming does not seem that different than our typical labor and delivery sounds, except all 20 women are in one long room, a true "ward", separated only by the occasional cloth curtain. I realized all interns have similar experiences, sometimes praised, often scolded, always crazy busy, with no time to eat or drink, much less sit down. I actually went out and bought new shoes after work today because I only sat down once all day, and I was wearing flat sandals. Yes, I did say sandals, everyone wears open toed shoes, regardless of water breaking and other wonders of childbirth, and no, they don't have shoe covers.

I am sure I will continue to learn about similarities and differences between medicine here and at home, and I look forward to all the amazing learning experiences ahead of me!

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