Michelle's Perspective: 2013 Trip

Michelle is one of the students who traveled with us and participated in the work at the hospital. She kept her own blog during the trip and took great pictures. Here are excerpts and links to her posts.

Day One/Two: Departure from San Francisco and Arrival in Vietnam

We all arrived safe and sound in Can Tho, Vietnam (pronounced Can Tuh) after a wild 24 hours of traveling. Our flight from SFO to Taipei, Taiwan was a 14 hour roller coaster ride. A good portion of the ride was pretty bumpy, but luckily I was able to sleep through most of it. Upon arriving in Taipei, Taiwan, we all got to wander around the airport to enjoy some duty-free shopping, and then it was back on the plane, which unfortunately was delayed for two hours with everyone already boarded due to a computer that needed to be replaced. We finally arrived at Ho Chi Minh City, and after gathering the 32 boxes of supplies and the rest of our baggage, the group loaded up a bus and made the 4 hour trek to Can Tho.

Day Three: First Day of Work

I am so excited that we started screening our first group of patients today. I was in charge of taking images and videos of patients for the intake group today, and I loved seeing all of the patients. They had such great attitudes, and it was very humbling to see how people can be so happy, even though they were given so little.

Day Four: Exploring Vietnam

Due to the New Year holiday, no work was done in the hospital on January 1. Instead, we took some time to explore Vietnam more. Our first stop was to the Snake Market, which has come to include much more than snakes. The main part of the market is a fish and meat vendor area, which should not be visited by those who have a strong sense of smell or a weak stomach.

Day Five: Second Day of Screenings

Today we screened 44 people, and did it in about the same amount of time, despite only having two rooms rather than the 3 we had on the first day. My dad took the pictures and videos today, so I followed Sahra Sellers, a resident surgeon, and watched over her shoulder most of the time. We had a few special patients today whose pictures I will show below.

Day Six: First Day of Operations

I can now add being in an operating room onto my list of firsts I experienced this trip. When I first got into Dr. Lehnert's room, I felt a bit woosy, as they had to administer to drugs through a needle in the spine, and were cleaning everything with iodine, which got me a little light headed. Needles are not my thing. This experience re-affirmed the fact that I do not want to be a surgeon when I grow up!  

Day Seven: Last Day in Can Tho, Bus Ride to Saigon 

Today we went up to the hospital with the rest of the team to see the early morning surgeries, which turned out to be all of them because the IEP doctors work very fast, and finished 5 operations by noon. Before surgeries began, Jenni and I went up to the recovery rooms on the 5th floor to hand out pain medications and antibiotics to the patients we operated on last night and their family.

Day Eight: Exploring Saigon, Flying Home, Reflection

We decided to explore the main indoor market in Saigon, which was a few blocks from our hotel. The market was huge, hot, and very fun. We got a few gifts for  family while we were there, and explored some of the food market as well. After about and hour in the market, we headed back to the hotel to get a ride to the airport.