Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day 3 in Mongolia (Recap) - The real stuff begins

Hello everyone :)

So today (23rd March) is my third day here in Mongolia and I am lovin it :) it feels like home now... been walking so much that I don't need a map anymore... plus it's no use having a map in this country since it seems to me most Mongolians haven't seen a map before. For the first two days whenever I asked a Mongolian about something on the map they would spend 10minutes just trying to find where we were at that time and would then just walk away minding their own business! And using taxi has been a funny experience... I have to take my stethoscope out every time to explain that I want to go to the hospital... most people get it but some taxi drivers just look perplexed having no idea what I am holding in my hands. I think I will ask somebody to write "hospital" in Mongolian language to make it easier for me tomorrow.

Today I signed my agreement/contract with the hospital detailing what i want to learn and how i will go about making sure i achieve my goals... also got a timetable from my supervisor indicating what i should/can do during the day... basically i am supposed to be working 4 days a week!! Free weekends and Tuesdays since they don't have many patients on Tuesdays :) Other days I will be spending 8hrs in hospital same as in NZ.

One of the interesting thing I have noticed about Mongolians is that they like to schedule things with utmost precision.. for example the hospital starts at 8.20am and the morning staff finish work at 4.20pm.. now in most countries things would start at either 8am or 8.30am but over here everything starts few minutes past or before the hr... like the lecture at university will start at 1.40pm rather than 1.30.

So anyways continuing with my day... people here are VERY friendly and helpful... and the doctors seem very keen to teach me... I think some of them also get a bit worried every time I am in the hospital wards as they fear I might have gotten lost or something so they call me every now and then to ask if I m doing ok and not feeling too tired :)

In terms of practical learning, today again I listened to (and tried to make sense of) a 4th year clinical teaching on neurology... alas it was in Mongolian language so i was just trying to interpret the gestures and faces of the teacher and the students. From what i have been told, the clinical class will be held every day for another month in the room the doctors and I sit and work! ... I think i shud start learning Mongolian or i will look too weird staring at students and the teacher and trying to make sense of things... Lol half way through the tutorial Dr Enzo who is one of the traditional chinese medicine doctor came to my rescue and took me with him to see some alternative medicine... it seems like he wants to convince me that traditional medicine is as good if not better than Allopathy. He showed me a patient who was being "cured" for gastric reflux with 10 acupuncture pins at different points in the body. The second patient we saw had asthma and was getting some kind of a suction massage on his back with oil and this suction cup thingy... after the patient was done I got to sit in his place and experience first hand Chinese traditional medicine [Photo attached] ... was quite relaxing actually :) i think i might get this done more often :p Third patient we saw got a milk bath because she was feeling too stressed out with life! Dr Enzo commented on how western people do the same thing in spas with roses and essence added to milk and charge hundreds of bucks while he does it for free of charge to help humanity and cure people!! In the middle of the discussion I received a phone call to go to the Emergency Department with Dr Ambara (my supervisor) and to review a possible admission for stroke... so ended up rushing there... the patient did not have stroke however as the clinical findings showed...

Dr Ambara later introduced me to Dr Gambat an Emergency/ICU/Anesthesiology doctor who speaks quite good English and took the time to show me around ED and ICU... we did a ward round and saw people with Tuberculosis, Chronic Renal Failure, MS, Pneumonia, Cardiac arrest etc... was very interesting to see how the Mongolians are trying to manage even without basic technology that we are so accustomed to in the western world.

On a different note... I met this young man again by the name 'Ayou' who is an arts student and draws paintings and portraits and sells them to tourists. He met me initially on day 1 and I had told him to meet me today and make a portrait of me... we took some photos and hopefully before I leave Mongolia he would have converted one of the photos into a painting/portrait of me in front of the Sukhbaatar square (the main town square located right in front of the parliament).

For those who have asked about food, so far I haven't tried
Mongolian food yet!! Just haven't had the time... I tried a Korean restaurant but the food wasn't as good as Kubik (ask me if u don't know what I am talking about) and also tried Taj Mahal, the Indian restaurant. The food was AWESOME... even in India you can't get this good Indian food!!! ... oh by the way there are 4 Indian restaurants in Ulaan Baatar!! who would have thought?!

Bayartai! (goodbye)

[Pic 1: Me getting a suction cup massage:) Pic 2: Lady getting a traditional milk bath for stress. Pic 3: Ayou the arts student who is going to draw my portrait. Pic 4: Photo of me in the Sukhbaatar Square with Mongolian Parliament and the statue of the great emperor Chinggis Khaan in the background - Ayou will make a portrait out of this]