Life in the neurosurgical unit, especially as a surgeon-is utterly exhausting. I still don’t know how these surgeons are able to drag themselves out of bed every morning, only after a couple of hours of sleep and go back to doing surgeries again the next morning. I don’t doubt that the surgeons in the US work hard, but from what I’ve witnessed in the Nicaraguan hospitals, these brain surgeons are extremely hardworking and put their all into their job, staying overnight at the hospital and sacrificing so much of their own personal needs to cater to the needs of all the people waiting outside the hospital for the next available doctor. Particularly since this hospital we volunteered at was a public hospital, the entire atmosphere in comparison to the private, wealthy hospitals I’ve volunteered at in the States is notably different. Sure, the brain surgeons get a good pay relative to the rest of the population in Nicaragua, but they’re not making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, like the majority of neurosurgeons in the States. Either way, it’s enough to sustain themselves, but in an impoverished nation like Nicaragua where not all people are able to have access to private healthcare, I feel that the doctors do everything that they can to try to take care of as many patients as they possibly can.
These doctors are so selfless in the work that they are able to provide to the local community and their care for all of the patients and their families was just so memorable, and that’s something so simple that I aspire to be.
In continuation of Part 1, we spent the night in the ICU, taking care of the patients, bathing them, and assisting the nurses in other tasks throughout the night. Not even college life prepares you for the amount of exhaustion that we experienced during this trip. For the surgeons who do this for a living, my respect and admiration for them is endless.
After heading back to the hotel for a couple of hours for a quick nap, we headed back to the hospital the next morning, and we presented the doctors with all of the donations we brought with us from the US. A local dentist donated some dental supplies, so we went around to all the patient rooms handing out toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss. The gratitude in the patients’ eyes and their joy for something so small that we take for granted in our own daily routine left me quite astounded-for them to just be so happy and thankful over receiving a toothbrush was just a simple reminder to take a step back and for one moment, stop wishing we could have more than what we already had. Many of these individuals don’t have much, yet they can be so content with something as simple as a toothbrush. I think that says quite a lot about what we have to learn from them about all the exorbitant desires we have in our own life, doesn’t it?
The doctors and their immense gratitude for the donations we were able to provide for them is such a wonderful feeling.
I can’t even put into words all that these doctors, patients, nurses, family members, and fellow team members have taught me, and it’s only been two days in the hospital. Going into this experience, I already knew that I was not cut out for a surgical career, and I had already disregarded any type of career in the hospital in my future aspirations as well. Nonetheless, it’s always the people that make the difference. Even if being in the hospital is a melancholy environment, what these doctors are able to do for the patients in this hospital is so humanitarian and their hearts are just full of so much love and so much more significant than all the little situations that we encountered here and there. Within the first few days, I had lost my luggage, one of the team members got her phone stolen, another team member got all of the cash she carried with her from the US stolen as well, and there had even been some improper planning and miscommunication in regards to our arrival. Even while we had thought all of these conflicts were so major and would affect our trip, it didn’t take us long to realize that these are just objects and in the big scheme of things, not really important. Instead, what is important is that we had the privilege to work with such dedicated individuals and what they were able to give us and teach us was truly invaluable.
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your own subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.