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The month of May flew by! It started with an eventful move from Memphis to Kansas City like I mentioned in my last post, then a week trip to Colombia for a fabulous SVOSH trip, and ended with my first couple weeks of 4th year externship in a Children’s hospital. I’ve attached just a few photos of the SVOSH trip to Colombia, but they really don’t do the trip justice.
The trip was off to a bumpy start when a few students, over half the group, had their flights canceled out of Memphis. It was quickly resolved, and only required getting up a little bit earlier. Customs in Colombia was also a bit difficult, because the officers didn’t realize how much equipment we would all have and wanted to have a list of what was staying and leaving the country. After multiple explanations, lots of hand motioning to show what the equipment was used for and help from the local Lion’s Club, we were on our way to the hotel and our destination in Barranquila for the first 4 days. We were fortunate to have a hotel that would also serve as the location of the clinic. It also provided all of our food, and proved to be quite delicious. The Lions were very organized and helped with the patient histories as well as referrals to a local ophthalmologist group in Barranquila. We even had an ophthalmologist resident and nurses in the clinic to assist with surgical and pathology referrals! I feel like I saw more glaucoma referrals on this trip than previous years, but it may be because I have become much more familiar with using a direct and BIO, so I feel more comfortable recognizing glaucoma. We were able to give out much valued and needed medication, spectacles and sunglasses. Everyone was very appreciative of the attention and general concern for their ocular health and were thankful for any way we could help.
It was so rewarding to see patients that we could help easily with a new pair of glasses, or an eye drop, or a local referral. When it means the difference between seeing or not, any bit helps. When blindness or diminished sight was permanent, it also seemed like the people were appreciative to just have the condition of their eyes explained and thoroughly investigated. With the amount of astigmatism that some patients had, we were unable to give an accurate pair of glasses for everyone. I explained astigmatism countless times, and also gave out new frames with a written Rx and the name of an optical nearby, so patients could go and have their own glasses made. I hated not being able to give the exact glasses that were needed, but people appreciated knowing what was going on with their eyesight and the option to get glasses made with the frames they selected. In the four days of clinic, we saw over 1000 patients and handed out all of our sunglasses and 400+ prescription glasses as well. It was truly a successful trip and so rewarding. The weekend was spent in Cartagena at a resort and was a relaxing break before flying back to the States on Sunday. Cartagena is about an hour and a half from Barranquila, and we broke up the trip by diving in a mud volcano. It was absolutely ridiculous. In Cartagena, we ate delicious food, spent time on the rooftop pool and beach across the street, and explored the historical walled city.
It was an exhausting week, and I was glad to have Monday off before starting my new rotation on Tuesday. My tongue got twisted from speaking way too much Spanish, but it was still worth all the work to help a group of people that were truly appreciative.