9 Jun

Today I was only at La Maternidad for 3 hours because the doctor wanted the rest of the day off. It surprised me that he could just leave when he wanted to, but I asked someone about it and they told me that it´s very common for doctors to just decide not to work. This is a huge reason there is a shortage of doctors in Ecuador. Today was way less crazy than yesterday–the room with 11 women in it yesterday only had 3 today. No one was scheduled for abortions, no one was far enough in labor to have their baby anytime soon, and there was only one cesarean section scheduled. Lucky for us, our doctor led us into the operating room and let us watch. Now, this was the first time I had ever seen surgery before. I had no idea what to expect other than what I had seen on television, and let me tell you, surgery in Quito is nothing like House. Sterility and confidentiality were lacking, and while I was told that their procedures were normal, it still seemed incredibly aggressive.

The residents were performing the cesarean section, allowing us and med students to watch. After the first incision, the doctor put her hands into the abdomen, and literally stretched the skin apart to create a bigger opening. Everything seemed fairly simple: cut, spread, pull the baby out, and sew her back up. Maybe I´m realizing that surgery really isn´t for me, but something about the way they did it seemed inhuman. As if there weren´t anything behind the cloth of the woman´s gown. As if she weren´t awake listening to what they said, and the noises their tools made as they cut into her flesh. It was all incredibly interesting, but I was mostly struck by the nurse who realized how scared the woman was to be so alone during all of this that she sat down next to her, held her hand, and talked to her throughout the procedure. I kind of laughed at myself for being shocked to see this kind of kindness, when initially I was surprised by their detachment. The procedure went well, the baby came out crying, and the sutures they gave the woman looked seamless. As quickly as it all started, it was over. And everyone (including the doctors) went back to sitting in the hallway, waiting for something to happen. This is when Dr. Marquez left, and dismissed us as well.

Jaime and I decided to use the extra time we had to check out old town Quito. I wish I could upload the photos, because they´re breathtaking, but this internet cafe won´t let me! We visited the first cathedral of Quito, and hiked up a hill that makes San Francico look like the midwest just to get to a gothic cathedral known for its view. I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we decided to climb up the stairs to get to the spire on top of the church. The “stairs” were strips of metal, maybe 2 inches wide, on the side of the tower, so you´re climbing up almost vertically. The first floor was okay, but the higher we got, the less sure I was that I could make it. It was so far down!! But, we made it to the top, took a windblown “we made it!” photo, and realized we had to make it all the way back down! 10 minutes later, we were back on solid ground, running to catch el troleybus so we would make it back to school in time. We were 20 minutes late, because the troleybus came off of the wires it runs on. Apparently this is typical, and the driver jumped out and reattached them as quickly as he could.

In class, we took a fieldtrip to the botanical gardens. It was beautiful! So many flowers, trees, plants, and climates in one place! The only thing that was a bit funny was that Jaime and I ran back to class, and the botanical gardens were right by the cathedrals…

Tomorrow, we´re going to a town called Baños. Apparently it´s super picturesque with waterfalls, jungle, and hot springs. Can´t wait!!

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