Wednesday, September 17, 2014


I've been having a great time at my current elective! Not only am I learning so much but I also get the opportunity to travel around and see things, which I love!

This past weekend a few of the other med students and myself headed to Yellowstone National Park! Despite the fact that it is pretty much freezing cold at night and there are bears here that would like nothing more than to turn me into a snack (I wouldn't be good for too much more than that) we decided that we were going to go backpacking and camp overnight at the park. 

I borrowed most of my gear from a guy I met just a few days ago- most of my own gear is still in Poland and I wasn't exactly planning on camping here. One great thing about small towns is everyone knows everyone and where they work and for the most part everyone is so nice. I got a pack and sleeping bag from him and then one of the receptionists at the clinic loaned me a tent. The only down side was that he only had a summer bag, which meant that I had to pack lots of extra clothes. 

We got to Yellowstone on Saturday morning and got our backcountry permits and picked out a nice 13.5 mile hiking trail near Shoshone Lake and Geyser Basin. Now I'm okay with marathons and all that good stuff, but walking 13.5 miles with a 40 pound pack on my back is not really okay with me. It ended up taking around 5 hours for us to get where we were going and it was mostly up hill. 

We stopped only once on the way because we lost the trail and it took about an hour to find and ended up requiring crossing one very precarious looking tree which acted as a bridge over a fairly deep stream.

By the time we got to our site near the lake I wasn't sure if I'd be able to make the trek back the next day. Taking that pack off was devine! 

We pitched our tents and then made dinner- freeze dried pasta with veggies not the most filling thing in the world, but it was warm at least. And then we headed to the lake which was a mere 30 second walk from our site. The sun was setting as we got there and the view was AMAZING. We sat there for the next few hours as the sun set and the light gave way to darkness and the stars. 

We had heard a rumor about seeing the aurora borealis also known as the Northern Lights, but as 11:00 p.m. came around and it became darker and colder we reluctantly trudged off to our tents ready for bed. We never did see the aurora, though we don't think that anyone did so we didn't feel so bad for skipping out early.

Ah...sleep. I didn't do very much of that. I was wearing 2 pairs of thick sox's and a pair of tights with a long sleeve shirt, a sweater, and my jacket, as well as a hat and a pair of gloves- and I was inside the sleeping bag pretty much freezing my behind off. It got down to 18 degrees that night. 

I woke up almost every two hours either cold or having to pee. 

There were a few problems with getting up to go to the bathroom: 
#1. I was too cold to get out of my sleeping bag, as little as it was helping it was still better than being without it.
#2. I kept hearing strange noises emitting from the woods surrounding me and I was 100% convinced at the time that grizzly bears were ravaging our campsite. 
#3. I didn't bring a flashlight and my friend was in another tent. 

Needless to say I spent most of the evening wide awake with bear spray in hand.
We woke up the next day and warmed by the sun felt much better. After a breakfast of oatmeal we marched back to Old Faithful where we had started. The hike that had taken 5 hours the day before only took 3.5 hours the second time- either because it was all down hill or we were so hungry, I'm not sure which. We were both dreaming of bison burgers the entirety of the hike, I even jokingly suggested that we go find one ourselves and march it to the butcher (though I would have done it had either been readily available). 

Once we reached Old Faithful I got to see the geyser erupt. Which for me while kind of touristy was the highlight of going to Yellowstone. It was way more built up than I expected and the mass amount of elderly tourists kind of caught me off guard, but it was really neat to see. 

After that we headed back "home" for a nice bath and some neosporin (which my very blistered feet and cut up hip- from the pack, really appreciated).

We never did get that bison burger though...

Friday, September 5, 2014

First Elective

I'm out west in my first elective now.

I am having so much fun being in the clinic!!! After the boredom and inattention in Poland I had forgotten that learning could be fun. I have seen almost all of the patients and done basic exams and histories with vitals on them, I've written up their notes, taken blood (4 times, I've only missed once, but the person who I missed took the doctor 3 tries and he only got it in his hand), reviewed x-rays, and practiced suturing. I'M LEARNING SO MUCH!

When the end of the day comes around I don't want to go home, I love seeing patients and talking to them. And even though it's a small walk in clinic I've had several interesting cases. Everyone is really nice here and so helpful, the doctor I'm with really knows his stuff too especially orthopedics because of the area and even though we haven't seen anything (yet) he's taken time to show us x-rays and talk about different types of breaks.

I have a bit of free time too to explore the area on weekends which is great. There are two other med students here with me from the US and we're planning on hiking this weekend and then I'm tagging along when they go backpacking and camping next week. I just need to find some gear- I have everything I need back in Poland!!!

I've also been using the time to get some exercise in. I'm normally a pretty avid runner, but since being sick last month and with final exams and moving I haven't had much time. Since being here I've ran almost every day. The first day was really rough because not only have I been getting over being sick and not running but the elevation is WAY higher than I'm used to. I had a saO2 of 94 when I got here, almost a week later my saO2 is 99- I'm not going to lie I'm pretty proud of that even if I don't really have any control over it. Most people here I've noticed hover around 95/96 because of the elevation.