Alone and loving it!

I drag myself back to the hotel from the hospital with ideas of getting out into the city to explore. There is scarcely enough time to shower, brush my teeth and hit the bed. Still, I miss my very long runs. I did get one in yesterday; felt amazing. With my constant vomiting, my energy has been almost nonexistent but I forced myself to walk and then broke out into a run. This was a great tour of the harbor area in the wonderful heat of the night with watercraft and people everywhere. The smells of food cooking were nauseating but I am much better for having broken out of my running slump. Still, after dropping 5 pounds, I feel as if my feet were tied together.

Mornings begin early at the hospital with patients coming through the operating theatre constantly. I greet them with my host surgeon; them happy to have an American woman surgeon in attendance. The surgical preparation is done but I am enough of a “hands-on” person to check every lab and every note written on the charts. I love connecting with these wonderful people; seeing them and families post op too. Most families will stay with their loved ones until discharge.

My host surgeon does many cases in a day but having me has almost doubled his load. The residents vie to scrub with us while others listen to our operating room chatter. It’s taken me back  many years to training with my mind on every move. I can’t express what a wonder this becomes operating with a master surgeon while discussing research, papers and general happenings back home. The residents and junior attendings hold on to every one of our words; my heart glad.

I did spend some of Christmas Day alone with my thoughts and feelings; great to lie in bed and watch the telly. I haven’t seen much television in years but I didn’t have the energy to do much else. I made a point not to watch the news because I just can’t deal with the political scene. My focus has been on preparing for my upcoming classes; reading papers and reading about the upcoming cases for this week. I don’t want to think of what is happening back home.

Still, I have come to love working with the operating room staff here. We work with the same people daily; they have gotten to know my little quirks and needs. I admire their professionalism as there is a cup of tea and a fresh pair of scrubs waiting for me between cases. The nurses and technicians smile broadly when I say “thank-you, it is an honor to work with you” and bow after each case. For me, a sign of appreciation and gratitude.

Much gratitude on my part as I forget that I am so small these days. For years, I was the Amazon, tall and somewhat muscular. Today, I am still taller than most women here but far from being muscular; quite thin. I catch a glimpse of a photo of me with the staff and wonder who this old gray-haired woman is in the photo. The younger people loving having me try their foods and theories. I love teaching; this trip reinforcing what I love to do anyway.

There will be much to do when I get back to the States and ultimately to my Midwest home. I have set goals, changed most of what I plan to present to students. Having my host comment on my academic work is great. I dined with him and family but was only able to sample a few bits of wonderful dishes, my gut not leaving in peace. He understood my plight saying that some folks have difficulty with even hotel water and foods. As I have gotten older, my intolerances have increased. Still, I will adjust because I want to go to the food hawker market before I leave in a couple of days.

I sincerely believe I picked up something on the plane flying over and not here because this city is pristine clean, food is prepared in very clean surroundings; I have been vigilant about washing all fresh fruit. I have been able to enjoy a bit of gin but no wine or beer yet. With the long hours, I haven’t wanted to add alcohol to this mix. Well off for a bit of a nap and then a run alone in the light; no darkness here. I have much hope for the new year with new friends and new learning.


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