Monday, March 28, 2011

Update from Navajo Nation

Well my well of emotions for which I felt the need to chronicle publicly has apparently dried up for awhile. Once you stop blogging, it is hard to restart.

Clinical rotations have been awesome and time consuming. I get the pleasure of paying to go to work every day and then additionally have the responsibility of coming home and studying at night. It is sort of sucked my additional resources to want to blog at all.

Since I last wrote I have spent 6 weeks in heart/vascular surgery, peds, hospice, family practice, internal med/women's hormone replacement, psych emergency, and now a regular emergency room. I am truly a different person than when I start this whole thing 1.5 years ago. I have gotten used to seeing and smelling the gross, can look at blood without blinking a eye, and see the true ugly and awesomeness of humanity.

My rotation in surgery was an exhausting 14 hour days of pure standing at attention in the OR. I rounded on patients at 5:45 am 7 days a week, many whom were in the ICU and hooked up to 10 different machines and fighting for their lives. We did open heart CABG, endovascular surgery, amputations of legs/feet, skin grafting, and the occasional open abdominal surgery. Very tough rotation mentally and physically.

My rotation in a psychiatric ER was amazing, I actually loved it. I spent 12 hours a day talking to psychotic, manic, drug and alcohol intoxicated patients who told me the stories of their lives...some real and some completely delusional. Lots of schizophrenia, lots of hallucinations and delusions, lots of people who screwed up their lives with drugs, drugs, and more drugs. Most of the patients were homeless, many were brought in involuntary by the police and were pissed off, and some were just scared and didn't understand why the voices in their head tell them to hurt people. I thrived.

I am currently living in the Navajo Nation capital of Fort Defiance, AZ (near Window Rock) working in the Indian Hospital's emergency room. It is an incredible learning experience both in the ER and in the culture of Navajo. I have become friends with some Navajo who work with me in the ER who have taken me to some amazing ruins and on some awesome hikes, to a traditional sweat lodge ceremony, and cooked me some delicious fry bread. It is a beautiful part of the state (about 5 hours NE of Phx) and one that I have never explored before. It is rural, I don't have internet or phone data plan and many of our patients live without indoor plumbing. I have spent as much time as possible outdoors exploring the amazing rocks and mesas all at 7K feet elevation.

Here are some pics all within a close distance to the hospital.

The famous "Window Rock" for which the town is named.

Canyon de Chelly - beautiful place where Navajo people live among old ruins of another era.

Traditional Navajo homestead who still lives in they canyon.
You can see their outhouse to the left.

Exploring the rocks behind the hospital. We found a "belly button".
Overlooking the hospital and housing below in distance.
Till next time I get the motivation. Next rotation is endocrinology at the Mayo Clinic back in Scottsdale. I am ready to get back to my normal world of internet, my couch, my husband and sea level breathing.

1 comment:

Deanna Stoppler said...

You sure are something else! I am so glad you shared and look forward to reading about you again in the future. My mom moved back to AZ so maybe when I am out visiting her we could meet up sometime. You could take me swimming in the canyons!