Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Some things are the same in any culture.

Just like back home, the people you work with can make or break your day. Monday was such a great day at the hospital with a really great group of nurses. Tuesday, not so much. One nurse, Ania, worked both days and thank God she was there because the rest of the group of nurses must have graduated from the Bitch School of Nursing. They bossed people around, seemed rougher with the patients, and were mean to each other. It really changed the atmosphere of the unit.

My German patient was still there and was very happy to see me, especially since right when I walked in a senile old woman had been trying to talk to him in German from across the room and was screaming "Hail Hitler!" and laughing! He asked, "Can you please explain to me what is going on here?" I shared that the older lady was a little bit crazy and just having some fun. Awkward!

I ended up leaving an hour early. The nurses had drawn straws to see who would get to go home early, the catch being that the nurse had to change the diaper and clean the shit off the bedridden patient. Ania "won" and since I was following her around, I helped her clean up the old man. She said that we both deserved to leave and that she didn't want to leave me with the mean ladies. Fair enough!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Back in the business

In order to complete the first year of classes I am required to participate in a 4-week nursing training internship at the hospital of my choice. I have already started accumulating hours by working in the Cardiac Surgery unit of the school's hospital. While there is a little bit of drama in the English Division about me working there--all the other students were told to go somewhere else, and I have a feeling it's because they don't speak (or try to speak) Polish--I must admit I am loving it. Thanks to Piotr and his family, I am very comfortable around the Polish language. Even if I don't understand everything someone says, I'm pretty good with context. Last night, I really got to put my Polish to the test.

Last night, an hour before my shift ended, we received a post-op patient, a German tourist who spoke English but not a word of Polish. The nurses, none of whom speak English nor German, were delighted that I was there and could get the patient situated. He was a nice older man but a little confused about everything going on around him. While I attended to other patients, the nurses summoned me repeatedly to help interpret. "She is going to take some blood now and connect your fluids." "Would you like to eat some dinner?" It also worked the other way though too: "Pan nie wie gdzie jest jego komuraka." (Sir does not know where is his cell phone.)

Yesterday, I also successfully drew blood for the first time all by myself. Actually, I successfully did it 5 times. I have had such a mental block when it comes to drawing blood and sticking people with needles and I was so relieved to see that I could actually do it. Most of the things I am doing in the hospital are such little things, but it feels so good to be back in a medical setting. School is great and all, but learning in a classroom can only take you so far. I feel like, despite the language barrier, I have learned so much in the few hours I've worked.

Today I have Polish class and another 4 hour shift.
Off I go!

Monday, May 10, 2010

They do things a bit different here.

I'll start with the bigger news because it's just too cool. I did well enough on the last (and all the previous) anatomy exam that my average for the year was 80.7%. I am exceptionally happy with my performance in the class and how I improved on each exam especially when I step back and remember that this is a medical school course. But that's not even the best part: for students who achieve an average of over 80% on all exams there is no final exam! Ok, we do have a formality of an oral exam, but after talking to the professor this sounds like it will merely be a conversation about anatomy over tea.

I'm sorry that I am tooting my own horn here, but I am excited at how the year has gone. And it is almost gone. Last weekend we had our last exam in histology before the final at the end of June. As it turns out, this is my only final exam and I have over a month to prepare for it. I haven't done as well as I'd like to in histology, but I feel like this is my chance to make up for that.

Since I am effectively done with classes for the year, Piotr and I get to focus on the apartment again. Well, he'll get to focus more after his work project is semi-wrapped up this week. Sunday, we spent half the day working on the kitchen and general cleaning/clearing of the rest of the place. Our kitchen has never looked so good! We still have a bit more to do such as installing a tile back-splash behind and to the side of the sink, putting up some matching shelves, installing a hood/vent for the stove, and so on. Regardless of how much more we have to do, it feels wonderful to have a silverware drawer!

As you can see in the photos, we get wonderful morning light in the kitchen, even if the sun is starting to rise closer and closer to 4am. We still have an ugly sticker-covered refrigerator, but it works so we'll keep it. Before we can do much else in this room, a much needed trip to the hardware store is in order. Oh, one more note about the kitchen cabinets: don't be fooled by how they look now, we had to do some serious work to get those in. The cabinet under the sink is covering a series of unmovable water & waste water pipes and had to have pieces cut to accommodate said pipes. Then building/installing the cabinet around the pipes was probably more than a two man job, but we managed. I love my kitchen!

On another subject, I have wanted to mention this on here but, as you may have noticed, have not been posting frequently. Medical school tends to get in the way of that sometimes. We have experienced a fair share of holidays in the past month or so here in Poland and let me tell you, Poland takes its holidays seriously. On labor day, for example, it is illegal to have any employees working for you. Every big shop in town is closed and the only shops that *might* be open are the little corner mom-and-pop shops and they have to be run exclusively by mom & pop. We found out the hard way that there are no food stores open on Easter or the Monday after. We have adapted to the European way of life where you shop daily for your meals, so closing a shop for a day or two can really throw things off!

That is all for now, though I will be trying to write more now that I have the time!