I am in the midst of writing travel stories about Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Here is a restaurant review where the food was good but the dude I was with...well, read all about it: Otto Pizzeria Las Vegas
It's 3:04 AM. That's the title of this post, yes it is. And the reason is, that's the truth.
Oh, 3:05 already. 3:04 is in the past. It's over.
I am at work, in Lincoln, Neb., where I am a nurse on the night shift. I have a travel nursing contract here for a little while. I shant say anything about my work because that would be (a) illegal and therefore (b) cause for immediate termination and revoking of my license. So let's just say, I'm taking a break for a snack of chocolate chip cookies whilst my beloved patients slumber. And to write this note.
A person can accomplish quite a bit working the night shift in a hospital, theoretically when his/her patients are fast asleep and resting reasonably confortably thanks to the wonders of pain-controlling analgesics. Sometimes, the quiet doesn't last. Like many things of beauty, the silence is fragile. Shh.
But back to my productivity. When a person is forced to sit, and contemplate life, through nighttime hours of silence, it brings out the best or the worst in that person. Some people wallow in boredom, numbed by the enveloping dearth and the lack of stimulation. Then others, their imaginations run wild listening to the chorus of what would otherwise not be heard, due to competition from the noise of daily life. Your dreams? Your aspirations? Your bucket-list goals? These are spoken with the language of Quiet Times, of isolation, of working the night shift. Dreams are not forgotten. People just can't hear them anymore, once they start working and the blather of Daily Life fills their brains.
So shh. Listen. Do you hear them? They are still there, trying to get your attention. Don't hold a grudge against them. They never left you. Pick up where you left off, like old friends.
I have a question about preserving antique furniture. I found an old dresser, and it is made of somewhat flimsy wood but the top is marble and it is really interesting. There is a manufacturer's stamp in one of the drawers that is dated 1871. The top is marble. Pretty cool.
The wood seems very dry, and the whole thing seems to be decomposing a little bit. I feel like if I put moisture back into the wood somehow, the dresser would hold itself together better.
How should I do this? I have heard recommendations of lemon oil and paste wax. But it seems to me that paste wax would just seal it, but not revitalize it in any way.
We created the clinic by typing ropes across the church's main (only) room, and then draping sheets. A few 2x4s were hammered into the ground for a little support. It worked pretty well.
A group of coffee farmers walked down their mountain to get various issues treated. Included in the group was this boy who showed up with skin that had become the greyish-beige color of oatmeal. He was super-sick with a respiratory infection, apparently some sort of pneumonia. We blasted him with repeated breathing treatments and gave him antibiotics, although if it is viral then he just has to wait it out. At least when we were done, he could breathe. We then gave them a ride back up the mountain to their adorable village of hobbit houses in the clouds, surrounded by coffee plants on the hills. I tried to take photos but through the haze of the clouds the pics were just a blur. But take my word for it, amazing.
This gentleman sat down in front of me and explained that after he comes in from working on his farm all day, he is "tired." He's 83. His blood pressure, pulse, and blood sugar were all better than mine. I told him there is nothing we could give him that God hasn't already been giving him his whole life. The man is EIGHTY THREE and he still runs his farm. Amazing. Meanwhile, I just ate a donut while typing this.
The church is next to a basketball court, which the church rents out to farmers to spread out their corn to dry. Lots of work.
When we washed out people's ears, one of us walked across the road to this woman's house, where she kept a kettle of water boiling over a fire. The water needs to be at least the temperature of your body, or it throws off your inner ear and you get dizzy and throw up. She was a vital team member with our clinic because of that water.
Cute kid. You can tell a lot about a place by the eyes of the little kids.
I went to Honduras on a medical mission. Honduras, like much of Central America, survives on the perpetual arrival of foreign missionaries, usually groups from churches who bring engineering or medical expertise to the underserved masses.
I believe very strongly that there is terrible poverty in America, and if we all spent one day each month doing something to help, our country would be a completely different place. I don't intend to overlook anyone's situation here. With that said, I enjoy working in other countries because I come away having learned more from the people than I feel I was able to teach anybody, so that's why I spend so much effort going to faraway places.
Enough poetic blah blah blah.
We have hundreds of photos of our Honduras trip. These are a selection from the first batch I saw.
So here I am, terrifying a young Honduran girl with my stethoscope. We set up a health clinic in a church, where saw hundreds of people with conditions like diabetes, hypertension, venous insufficiency, wounds, and a few wicked cases of pneumonia among coffee farmers who live up in the mountains and breathe in clouds all day.
Anyone who could get themselves to the clinic, by foot or by bicycle or by horse, could get a free checkup and a month's worth of whatever medicine they needed. Many "medical brigades" from numerous countries go to Central America, so it is feasible for a person to bounce from town to town visiting the different pop-up clinics and get the basic essentials of what they need--blood pressure meds, metformin, antibiotics, etc. They have no way of paying for any medicine. One month of pills would cost an unfathomable amount of money.
Conditions in the clinic were sparse but we made the best of it. Notice the IV fluids hanging from a rope stretched across the room.
Honduras is gorgeous, with mountains and green valleys everywhere. All that green means it also rains a lot, which takes a toll on the roads. After big downpours, holes in the pavement get washed out and turn into craters; so industrious locals then fill in the holes with dirt to make driving easier. They then stand on the holes they filled and wait for tips, theoretically from grateful drivers who appreciate having their tires saved.
We tipped that guy in the photo above.
It made him really happy.
In my opinion, the most important thing we did on this trip was not in the medical clinic itself. A few people from our group visited schools in rural areas and gave hundreds of fluoride treatments to kids.
This is a big deal. Preventing tooth decay for these people is a life-changing intervention. In rural Honduras, when a person gets a cavity the only option is to pull the rotted tooth. There are no fillings or root canals. At a certain point, some people just want all their teeth out so they can find a cheap set of dentures.
People lined up at our clinic to have their teeth pulled.
Our two dentists pulled 86 teeth that week. (...with anesthesia.)