Bleary Eyed

~Bleary Eyed

Friday, July 30, 2004
Last day at the clinic and last day with my group of exchange students. It´s like waking up from some bizarre dream. Was it just moments ago that I was taxing down the runway? How can it be that I have done so much, yet feel as if my vacation has just begun?  Last night was our farewell party. We gathered at the sauna once again and cooked sausages on the sauna rocks, lol.  Strange yes, but it´s finland.  Took lots of crazy photos, played drunken ping pong at the fornix, coaxed med students out of large cages, and a 3 km walk home listening to the boys sing finnish children´s songs in the rain.  Good times.  It was loud, chaotic, crowded, but fun.  Had to say good bye to the Matej last night too, my ping pong & volleyball partner, whose rather off color sense of humor always made us laugh (after a few groans)- no more nude saunas and lewd eyebrow wiggling with him gone, lol.  He is headed back to the Czech republic today on his uncle´s plane, and will be missed.
As for me, I feel like i have truly settled into a comfortable routine here at the clinic, only to find myself leaving.  I have enjoyed the company and the experiences.  20 min from now I will go through my last rounds on the kidney ward before I head out.  I think i have actually learned quite a bit from the transplants, surgeries, surgical rounds, internal medicine rounds, visits to hemo and peritoneal dialysis, and just sitting around the clinic chatting with the staff. I hate good byes, and i have so many of them to make.  Afternoon will be more walking around the centre and this evening one last club outing with the group. Usual menu of dancing, drinking, joking, laughing, and photos before we say good bye for good, or until next time...

Thursday, July 29, 2004
Another gray and rainy day in Helsinki and another nearly sleepless night.  I am still on my ´la cuacha´kick and have yet to get a decent night´s rest (i.e. more than 5 hrs).  Cant help it. there is just too much to do and not enough time to spend with a certain someone before we take our separate ways on saturday.  I just dont feel ready to leave or to be left just yet. Spent the last few days hanging out with the boys and sitting in the sauna where they like to sing, dance, and take strange nude photos of each other.  I think that at least for my sake, the sauna group should acquire at least one other female. It just gets strange with 85C temperatures, birch branches to hit yourself with, and buckets of water in a small enclosed space with 6 guys and 1 girl. 
Yesterday I learned how to make cinnamon rolls and in the evening organized a little impromptu salsa club outing downtown.  It was quite fun we danced for about 3 hrs to Latin beats.  The group is quite good and I got twirled around the dance floor til i got dizzy. We had quite the group there, must have had at least a dozen people.  Tons of photos and lots of laughs.  Matej ended up locked in the fire escape stairwell and called my phone about 6 times before I realized it was ringing, picked it up, and over the music try to figure out what he was trying to say.  All i heard was "help! i´m stuck at the stairs! let me out, let me out!"  Lol. It didnt help that there were about 3 or 4 stair cases and I really couldnt figure out how someone could get stuck in them...Anyways, we found him. he had been trapped there for about a half hour.  we laughed so hard we cried, poor Matej. 
Tonight: 7km city walk with the boys and tonight, our farewell party....location: the rooftop sauna of the gynecology/obstetrics hospital next to the fornix.  Cheers. Need to buy some cider...

Monday, July 26, 2004
Sleep - those little slices of death, how I loathe them.  ~Edgar Allen Poe 
Someone viewing my life these last 4 nights would most likely gather that this quirky little sentiment by Poe is the motto that I live by.  My mantra, if you will.  Monday morning at the clinic, fuzzy headed, slightly incoherent, but quite content at the products of my sleeplessness. 
Our little group decided that it was time to experience the Hki nightlife and we did.  Thursday-sunday we hit the centre and came home in the wee hours of the morning.  We saw strange and bizarre sites throughout our evenings. Dance halls of marble and columns with 80s music playing and an atmosphere reminiscent of our jr. high school dances, drunken finns and lots of broken glassware, we sang karaoke at the fornix, watched the sunrise as we walked to friend´s flat in senate square at 4 am, greeted the early morning traffic at 6am as we took our hour long walk down the middle of the road on the tram tracks from the centre to the fornix, and irritated a stout barmaid who banged glasses and stomped around us in an effort to chase us out of her soon closing pub.  As a group, we have never laughed more or bonded more. it´s as if the realization that this week would most likely be the last week we would be a group has suddenly hit us all between the eyes.  For when and where else could our group consisting of 2 slovaks, 2 frenchies, 4 spaniards, a malaysian, a filipino, a canadian, an austrian, 4 finns, a russian, and an english girl ever get together again for a game of ping pong or a trip to the movies?  We have 5 days left together and I am sure they will be good ones.   

Friday, July 23, 2004
Well, my time here is coming to a close. Yesterday was probably one of my overall best days here. SPent the day in the dialysis unit where I found that internists are generally more pleasant to work with than surgeons.  they actually did their rounds in english for my benefit, taught me a few things, and allowed me to interact a bit more with the patient cases we had.  I also spent the afternoon sitting with some of the dialysis patients during their 4 hr sessions at the unit.  I think i much prefer this patient contact rather than the more mechanically oriented surgical work that I have been involved with the last few weeks.  I appreciate seeing a patients face and talking to them rather than retracting their liver and only seeing a small section of their abdomen. 
I skipped my regular afternoon nap on the lawn on the Esplanade (they have a free jazz concert there every afternoon) and went to the outdoor swimming pool instead.  We played an invigorating game of volleyball. Juho and me vs. Juso and Teija. We won!  Nice to see that even finns can trash talk on the vball court. :) I havent had such an enjoyable game of volleyball. we laughed til our sides split and then headed to a playground to play on the see saws and swings :) it really feels like my summer holidays have begun.  Afterwards bunch of us met up at a place called The Club for a few rounds of drinks and some dancing.  More laughing and more silly photos.  Back home by 2 and making more plans for the weekend. sauna and dancing on friday, cooking and museums on saturday, going to a church cut into a rock on sunday, and i have organized a potluck for sunday evening. 

Monday, July 19, 2004
What a weekend. Finally had a gorgeous sunny weekend here in Finland. Spent a lot of it sitting outside in parks eating sweet sweet finnish strawberries and drinking cider and long drinks. Spent most of friday wandering around an island with an open air museum. took some pictures of little lapland cottages, ducks, and squirrels.
Saturday I went up to Tampere for the day. Tried a blood sausage, went on a boat ride to another little island for more strawberries and a long drink, and had a lovely nap on the way back to Helsinki. We spent the evening at the Fornix once again and sang Karaoke using an internet program we downloaded and a projector screen. We sang for about 3 hrs while drinking or gin tonics and screwdrivers. Had a blast,
and have some incriminating video clips (with sound!) as well as a few choice photos to show for the night. At about 2 am we headed out to a local bar for a bit more fun...conversation topics ranged from boy scouts to abortion issues to pornography to fraternity/sorority parties. at about 330am paula and i headed back to home sweet home...30 min walk through the forest in daylight since the sun had already started rising by then. Sunday was another lazy day hanging around with the boys. So, overall we had lovely weather, lots to drink, not much sleep, and lots of fun :) may more weekends such as this come before I take my leave of reindeerlan

Friday, July 16, 2004
site for the day:
it really is good fun. its in commemoration of my dear exchange students and their lovely spiderman dancing nights. ;)

Thursday, July 15, 2004
Ok, 4 liver resections down and only 4 more to go. LOL. Got to do some cool stuff ´today. that val kilmer look alike surgeon is the man to work with i think. scrubbed in once again, but this time i got it right! yay! helped that the OR nurse was a really kind and patient guy and explained everything clearly to me and that the scrub nurse was a really nice lady too. So I got to cauterize, suck, AND retract today. whoo hoo. lol. who would have thought that burning human flesh could bring so much excitement. afterwards we sliced up the right lobe of the liver. it was basically all tumor with big blocks of mozarella like stuff embedded inside. ew. wont be eating liver any time soon...or cheese for that matter. necrosis is just gross.
last night we went to a med school party...guess they are the same everywhere..100 or so students milling around eating and drinking. Had an ok time, but no sleep last night. Today i think i am taking off work early to go to a photography cafe and then playing some volleyball on the beach with some of the other students. then back at the hospital for a kidney transplant at 8pm tonight.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004
what´s so different (strange) about finland? Here are my first 10 observations

1. The Doors. You rarely find one that you can open with just one hand, they all require two hands except for doors for flats where there is no handle or knob outside and just a key whole.

2. Locks. All the doors lock in the opposite direction you would expect. you turn the lock away from the place where the bolt goes through. Perhaps this is why a certain finnish someone who lived in america had so much trouble opening doors.

3. sinks in toilets. all the toilets here have little sinks in them, even the stalls in the public bathrooms in department stores. oh and they have little shower hoses too, for those of us who are washers and not wipers.

4. all people seem to eat here are variations of rye bread, yogurt, and new potatoes.

5. you see people with blonde roots and dark hair rather than vice versa.

6. Every place I go place American pop music from the bars and clubs to the operating room. i saw a liver resection today and heard eminem, maroon 5, and britney spears playing in the background.

7. Salmiaki candy and Rubarb Pie

8. the sun that never fully sets. no matter what time of day it is, sky basically stays light. It is strange to walk home at 4 in the morning and have it look like 4 in the afternoon.

9. Everyone has a summer cottage by a lake that they go to whenever they get a chance. All they do there is eat sausages, sit in the sauna, swim in the freezing lake, and sleep.

10. Asians like me make finnish babies cry just by being in the same room :)

Thursday, July 08, 2004
Ho hum. I think I have become infatuated with a certain someone with twinkly blue eyes and a crazy grin. :ÖP

Still here at the clinic. Actually got to do something this morning however. I got to 1) hold on to various internal organs to clear the way for the surgeons 2) use the little aspirator suction thing and suck out blood. WHOO HOO, right? HEHE who could screw that up? ME. I was just holding back some of his small intestines and a bit of skin, fat, and muscle. When the surgeon said ok, I thought she was talking to me and I let go. Afterall, would they have given me something critical to do? lol. yep. THey all let out a loud yelp and grabbed the liver before it fell back into place with the rest of the mess. :( oh well. not surgeon material i guess, lol. one learns. oh speaking of learning. I will never for the life of me get down the whole scrubbing in sequence. every place is slightly different and i never quite know what to do when. always mess up somewhere and feel like a complete fool. what a day what a day. I think it must be the lack of sleep. I got to bed last night at about 3 am. *groan* we went to this place..hmm..what was it called...the literal translation from finnish means well room (well as in the place you get water from). Such a strange night. It began with a crazy 2 hrs waiting for everyone to get to the fornix (har har to all of you who know anatomy, it is where the OB residents stay when they are waiting for their patients to deliver). The 2 french guys insisted on bringing me to their living room where they proceeded to set up a projector and screen to show me the "happy tree friends" animations. so we watched 7 episodes of bloody, violent, and disgusting cartoons where friendly little forest creatures are maimed, chopped, flattened, and decapitated. Then we all headed out to this well place in the city centre. I guess it was THE place to go on a wednesday night if you were under 30. We waited over an hour to get in only to find a dance floor packed with finns bopping around to top 20 american pop and R&B. LOL. Our boys certainly were quite entertaining on the dance floor. i have lots of pictures to prove it..just wait and see...
anyways, must run along now. i think i hear volleyball, swimming, and a sauna calling. just 1.5 hrs to go!!

Sunday, July 04, 2004 what does turning 23 feel like? I am not sure, but how many 23rd birthdays do you spend at a hospital by a 15th century castle assisting surgeons retrieve a 17 yr old boy´s liver and kidneys to fly back to Helsinki. I have to say that it was one of the most unique, if disturbing, days I have ever had. The operation was access, and our glum little team returned back to helsinki at 2 am the next morning. The last few seconds of the 3rd of July I spent watching this poor boys heart beat its last few beats and die in a flurry of vibrillation.

Today we went to a different castle on an island just a few minutes by boat from Helsinki. By we, I mean the 10 or so exchange students here from various parts of the world (austria, czech republic, france, canada, spain, england, taiwan, and whatever country i belong to) along with our correpsonding finnish medical students assigned to babysit us. we had a lovely picnic by the coast up until it rained, and we instead went on a 2 hr quest trying to find the underground tunnels beneath the fortress. more pictures to come later...anyways happy 4th of july to you american folks...
Books: Fiction

Anil's Ghost
Michael Ondaatje

The Alchemist
By Paulo Coelho

Books: Non-Fiction

Oasis of Dreams
By Grace Feuerverger

Betrayal of Trust
By Laurie Garrett

Pathologies of Power
By Paul Farmer

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