A Day In The Life Of Our Team:
Today I thought I would take some time to write about our day-to-day life here in Nagamangala.
We sleep on a tiny twin mattress that is rather firm. The best part about this situation is that the plastic the mattress came in when it was first purchased is still on. Which means at night you can hear your every move as the plastic crinkles beneath you. We each have one sheet to sleep on and a small blanket to cover us up at night. The nights here are pretty warm so thankfully we do not need much else. My sheet seems to try to run away from me at night and I wake up each morning sleeping on only the plastic covering.
Our showers are most interesting! The "shower" is a large bucket in the bathroom that we fill with water and then dump over ourselves. We are fortunate enough to have hot water which takes about twenty minutes to heat up. The trick is to fill it up with the right combination of hot and cold water, a trick which I am proud to say I have now been able to master. At first I was a little skeptical to take my bucket shower but it is surprisingly refreshing, especially after a long day running around the hospital. Sometimes if you are particularly lucky you will flip on the light in the bathroom and find a lizard scurrying across the wall.
Our team has started a walking club. Each morning, at about 5am, they take an hour long walk around the town. Typically there are about five to ten people that join the group. The walking club concludes each walk by stopping at a “coffee shop” (a tiny shop that serves cold coffee with piping hot milk). This has become a wonderful treat for the group.
Breakfast starts at 6am and the team usually starts to trickle in sometime between 6 and 7. Our day at the hospital starts promptly at 7am when the first three patients are brought to the Operating Room for surgery.
Each member of the team plays a different role on this mission. Some team members spend the day coordinating the patients and move them from the different wards as needed. Some non-medical volunteers work behind the scenes in the OR assisting the medical team. We have an amazing team of doctors, anesthesiologists, nurses, and an orthodontist who spend their days in the operating room treating patients. We also have a team of nurses in the PACU who tend to the patients after they have come out of surgery. Our pediatricians take turns working in the operating room or tending to the patients who have already had surgery. We even have a Medical Records Keeper, Photo Journalist (me), and our very own Recreation Therapist (who spends her days entertaining the kids). All in all I am very impressed with our team and the amount of dedication we all have to this mission.
It has been very interesting learning how to interact with the people here. First, I have noticed that when they are telling you "yes" they tend to shake their head in such a way that it looks like they are saying "no". Which made communicating a little confusing on our first day here. Back home people often greet you by asking, “How are you?” but I have noticed people here tend to ask you if you have eaten. All day long I am stopped as I walk through the hospital – “Have you had breakfast?”, “How was lunch?”, “Did you like your dinner?”, “What did you eat?”. The children here have a particular way that they like to shake your hand: You touch your index and pinky finger to theirs, twist your hand in a clock ways motion, touch thumbs, shake hands and then say “Friendship” at the same time. Walking through the hospital I usually have five to ten “Friendship Handshake” requests.
Each night our team gathers at our hotel for “Happy Hour” at around 6pm. This is our time to sit down with each other and take turns recapturing the day’s events or share stories from our lives back home. The beer and wine are a particularly special treat at the end of a long workday. Sounds of our laughter echo throughout the courtyard.
Often around seven-thirty Happy Hour ends, some team members decide to go back to the hospital for dinner while others choose to head to bed. Either way we have early nights here with most people in bed asleep by 9pm.