Lauren Kmieciak, León, Nicaragua, May 20, 2013

Clinic Day 1: Goyena

It was an early morning, and we had no idea how tiring the day would be! We woke up at 6:00 am quickly got ready and hurried down to breakfast, where again, they fed us well! The fresh fruit will never get old! At 7:00 am we hopped on the buses and headed to the village of Goyena. Goyena is located about 15 kilometers outside of León, but it took close to 45 minutes to get there because the roads were not paved. This was the first time VIDA had ever been in Goyena, so we were warned that it may be a slower site since the people are unaccustomed to veterinary medicine, and are weary of having surgery done on their animals not only because of lack of education but because of their strong cultural values too.

We unloaded our bus and set up our clinic in a small community center. The space was pretty small but we were able to use our space efficiently and everything fit perfectly. We set up intake, surgery preparation, surgery, and recovery areas. Then Diana, our veterinary assistant, assigned us each a partner and started giving us cases as they came in. Most animals that came in today were just an exam, meaning they get a complete physical exam and then they will get a dewormer and topical medication to help prevent fleas and ticks. I was partnered with Ellen, a soon-to-be second year at U of I too! We made a great team and we both learned so much today. We did several physicals, and quickly got accustomed to dogs that were underconditioned and infested with fleas and ticks. I quickly got used to removing ticks on our patients, but it felt good to know that we could provide them with a little relief from their internal and external parasites with the medication we administered before they were discharged.

We had the last surgery patient of the day. Ellen was the surgeon, and I was the anesthetist. I was pleasantly surprised with how much we were able to do, and as an assistant in surgery I felt that we were given a wonderful opportunity not only to observe but to assist, and actually perform parts of the surgery. Knowing this made me very excited for my first surgery patient! The day was much busier than I imagined, and part of that may have been due to the heat (the heat index was 110˚F). Our goals were to have a total of 14 exams and 14 additional surgeries for a total of 28 patients. We did reach 28 patients, but we only completed 6 surgeries total with the remaining 22 patients as physical exams.

Until I sat down on the bus I had no idea how exhausting the day was. We didn’t get back to our hotel until close to 6:00. I had no idea how refreshing a shower could feel. Once we were all cleaned up we decided to head out with Lester to another delicious restaurant which had beautiful outdoor seating and was such a nice relaxing retreat after our busy day. Once dinner was over we were off to bed because we had another clinic day ahead of us!