Two years ago…

August 20, 2014 § 1 Comment

…we celebrated our first national holiday in Budapest! It was our third day living here and everything we did felt like an adventure. We made sure to see all of the events that happened that day: the air and water show, the food festival, Hungarian dancing and fireworks. It was an amazing induction into Hungarian culture and the beauty of Budapest. I documented nearly every second of that day in my blog post: Saint Stephen’s Day – Celebrating the Foundation of the Hungarian State. Worth a visit to relive those moments. Last year we were in Budapest, but instead of joining the crowds, we got take-out from a nearby restaurant and watched the fireworks from our kitchen island with some glasses of champagne.

Had we moved here this year, we would not have had anywhere near the same experience. The weather is poor, gloomy and wet. Miklós told me that they won’t do the fireworks if the weather is bad. Several years ago, there was a thunderstorm and people still flooded the bridges and streets encircling the Danube to watch the fireworks show. He said that a tree branch fell somewhere and ended up killing two people, and since then, they have decided to only carry out the show if the weather is good.

It’s my day off from work and I feel like my skull is shrinking. My sleeping pattern is so poor with this work schedule and I’m definitely feeling the consequences. My plan for today was to start off by going to the gym and then study the rest of the day, since the quiz for our Exercise Physiology class is due early Thursday morning. I haven’t been enjoying the class as much as I thought I would. The lectures aren’t very stimulating and my interest in the topic can only fuel my motivation so much. After talking a little bit to Skjalg, I decided to drop the class and instead give myself a break from studying until school starts up again in a couple of weeks. If I feel the urge to study, I can always watch a Dr. Najeeb video. Otherwise, I’d rather fill my time with some leisure reading. My brother Christian recommend a book called Not Entirely a Benign Procedure and I am really interested in it. He said it is a book of diary entries of a medical student during her four years of medical school in the US and that the author is very talented and witty. Skjalg told me that I have to finish one of the other 15 books I’m “reading” before I start a new one, but I’m going to sneak this one in anyway…

Work on Monday was terrible. We were there for 9 hours and all we did was make four beds and register three patients, so a total of 40 minutes of work. When we were in Neurology, they were good about letting us go if there wasn’t anything to do (though, it felt like there was more to do when we were there). The head nurse of the Gastroenterology department is oddly strict. We had a rush of patients between 9 and 11, and after that, there was nothing to do. There were four patients in the department, three nurses, three nurse interns and the three of us, and still, she said we weren’t allowed to leave until four. So, for the last three hours, we stood there, watching the nurses sit on their phones or quiz each other on dosages of medications. For one hour, I counted the paper butterflies on the walls according to their color scheme. We couldn’t help but get angry about it. It’s not that we were lazy and wanted to go home, just that we wanted to do something. Cleaning, organizing, any mundane task possible! As the hours ticked on without a task, I got frustrated at the thought of seconds of my life slipping away for no reason. I’m generally good at finding a reason to make any situation “worth it” but this was ridiculous.

We’d decided that, on Tuesday morning, we would talk to the head nurse of the hospital, the one organizing our practice. Another day like Monday would have driven us insane. (We wanted to do anything – anything! – other than just stand there. We’d change every bed in the hospital if we could.) I was alone when she emerged from her office that morning and approached me to say hello. When she asked how things were going I explained, in my best easy-to-understand English, “Yesterday, it was very slow. We only changed 4 beds and registered 3 patients. It was not very nice to only stand there.” She nodded in understanding, smiled and told me that we should probably take a half-day. She seems to care a lot about our experience here and has been really good about planning things for us to see and do, at least during the first two weeks.

After she left, the boys showed up and we headed towards the department. The head nurse of Gastroenterology, endearingly referred to as Big Red by us, raced up behind us, pressing on our heels and goading us to walk faster in Hungarian. At the entrance of the department, the head nurse of the hospital was waiting. The conversation that ensued was one that I really, really wish I had been able to understand. I picked up some words, but Miklós had to fill in the rest once we were alone and settled. Big Red had been told by the head nurse of the hospital that there was no point to keep us standing around, doing nothing, for hours on end and that we should be sent home if there is absolutely nothing for us to do. She was then criticized for something that didn’t have anything to do with us: there was only one patient staying in the department, only two schedule to come in for the entire day and she had three nurses working. Miklós said that she was told that the nurses shouldn’t be “in Hawaii” – a term for lounging around in Hungarian – and that she had to send someone home (which she never did).

After their little talk, Big Red ignored us for the rest of the day. She complained to the other nurses for a while and then disappeared to the back. We, of course, care about making a good impression and are doing our best to be respectful, but it had just reached a point where we needed to stand up for ourselves. Jun and I, as English students, are paying $350 for this practice. If there is nothing for us to do in one department, we will gladly go to another or honestly anywhere where we can do/learn something. But if they are just going to have us stand around and doing nothing for hours, well, then they are also making us pay with our time in addition to our money. Big Red is honestly the only person who has made that an issue and for what reason, we’ll probably never know.

The shift on Tuesday ended up being a little better. Some doctors stopped by for lactose intolerance testing and we were allowed by one of the nurses to complete the test. For the test, they are asked to swallow a solution containing lactose and then the hydrogen content of their breath is measured every 30 minutes for 3 hours. People who are intolerant of lactose (like me!) lack the enzyme that breaks down the sugar in the intestine. As a result, the lactose continues until it reaches the gut flora (bacteria) which do have the enzyme. When they break it down, they produce hydrogen and sometimes methane, which appear in the subjects breath. For people who are not lactose intolerant, we would expect their breath values to be 0, whereas those who are, can have really any value other than 0. So, every thirty minutes, we had them breathe into a plastic bag attached to a large syringe. When the bag was inflated, we opened the syringe, filled it with the air from the bag, and then closed it again. We then attached the syringe to a H2 reader, injected the air into it and waited for the result. The results were interesting: one patient had 0, 5, 0, 9, 0, 5, 0, whereas the other had 0, 0, 0, 0, 11, 38, 54.

A more advanced version of the one we used. Credit: USF Health's website.

A more advanced version of the one we used. Credit: USF Health’s website.

At 11:00, the department entry was empty again and there were only two patients checked-in. The three of us and the three nurse interns sat in the waiting area, watching the nurses sit in the nursing station on their phones and chatting. Big Red had been marching back and forth in the hall on the phone, loudly remarking various things to the nurses. Miklós told me earlier that she some of the things she says are pretty rude. One of her phone calls was more intense and I asked Miklós to translate it. He said that she had been informed that they would be closing the department since there were only two patients and that the patients would be moved up to hematology until Thursday. She didn’t want to close the department, so she was calling around trying to find another patient to put in the department so that they wouldn’t have to close. With so little to do that they are being told to close the department and you’d think she’d let us go, right? Nope. She told us we couldn’t leave until 1:00 – exactly a half-shift. I’m sure there are more logical reasons for keeping the department open – i.e. making sure the nurses get paid – but when it came to keeping us, especially after her conversation with the head nurse, I just didn’t understand. At 12:45, she told us to go and change and then didn’t return our goodbyes when we left. I have such fond memories of the first two weeks that it is unfortunate that it may end on a more sour note. There are still three days, but two of those leave Jun and I without a translator! Tomorrow we’re planning on asking the head nurse of the hospital if there is another department we can visit. We’ll see how that goes…

On a lighter note, I tried overnight chia oats for the first time! Oats, chia seeds, banana protein powder, coconut flakes, light coconut milk and some splenda overnight in the fridge and then topped with some berries in the morning. Will be a quick and refreshing treat to have in the mornings once school starts.

ChiaOats2 ChiaOats1


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