Began this blog my fourth year of medical school. Have been traveling for work and play ever since!

Middle East » Iraq » South » Basra April 5th 2017

So, as is inevitable, I got back to the daily grind and didn't finish up the journal. But I am doing so now. It will be less fresh but I'm committed to seeing it through. Wednesday was our last day. And it started with operating on Ali, our host. He had a tibia fracture 8 months ago after he was hit by a motorcycle and it was fixed in Lebanon because that was the nearest country that had the materials to fix it in a modern fashion. He was having difficulty moving his ankle properly and after examining him I realized that one of the screws that holds the internal rod inside his tibia had impaled and pinned one of his tendons to his bone. So we decided to remove this screw and check out the ... read more

Middle East » Iraq » South » Basra April 4th 2017

Tuesday Yeah, went to bed earlier just to wake up at 1:30 am this time. But I feel less wrecked than yesterday. I did a mini hotel work out and now I’m drinking my instant coffee and having some quiet time while overlooking the pool. I haven’t ever seen anyone in this beautiful pool… I’d like to see a Burkini. After breakfast, I head to the medical school and give a lecture to the students. Women are seated on the right, men on the left. They interact with me if I ask direct questions but mainly it’s just like a U.S. medical school lecture: some paying attention, some nodding with various points, some nodding off, some disinterested. I try to focus on a few keys points rather than hammering them with too much information. Rick leaves ... read more

Middle East » Iraq » South » Basra April 3rd 2017

Ugh. Every night I’ve been waking up at 3am with severe trouble falling back asleep. I had plans to go to the gym but I just have to sleep more. Ali picks me up at 8:30am after I down incredible amounts of instant coffee and we pick Scot Hoffinger up from the medical school where he is giving a lecture. There are large hanging signs in the building featuring the graduating medical students in different movie or TV scenes (Soprano’s, Suicide Squad, etc). It’s awesome! Great to see the students having fun. Iraqi medical training is a combined program of medical and undergraduate education for 6 years – much like Australia and European programs. I am excited to give my talk the next day. As I have been informed, there is only one female Orthopaedic surgeon ... read more

Middle East » Iraq » South » Basra April 1st 2017

Conference starts at 8:30 after breakfast. I slept poorly with some mild anxiety of unclear origin, probably somewhat related to the struggles of the surgery. I don't like not being my best, the best, and it's hard to be hindered by the environment. I need to get over myself already. So many interesting cases are presented. Gun shots, polio, infections, delayed presentations of congenital abnormalities. We see a case of hydatid disease- pretty much cystic tapeworm Infestation of the body, often fatal and extremely difficult to treat. Think: cysts full of tapeworm eggs that burst and clog up important organs. Takes a lot to gross me out, but... yuck. I find out there are three foot and ankle specialists in the entirety of Iraq. I meet one from Baghdad who hopes to come shadow me at ... read more

Middle East » Iraq » South » Basra March 31st 2017

I’m writing this while sort of listening during the conference and scratching the 7 bug bites on my legs (who knew, mosquitoes in Iraq). So pretty similar to what I would be doing during a conference in the States. The conference resembles most any orthopaedic conference. I am the only woman. There are some women vendors working the booths outside, all in hijabs. Rumor has it there is a female plastic surgeon from Germany who will be speaking but I haven’t seen her yet. However, everyone is very welcoming and I feel no weirdness or strangeness as a woman. The other surgeons are warm and we make introductions and discuss our practices. We have expert speakers and case presentations. It is all in English and there is a vendor hall with freebies and treats for the ... read more

Middle East » Iraq » South March 31st 2017

We head through security and we check in to our VERY nice hotel. At this point, I break and beg for lunch. I kick myself for not eating the breakfast on the flight. We ate at 5:30am and have been travelling for 10 hours. And I’m a wuss. A buffet for all 3 meals comes with the hotel so we sit for lunch with Ali. Ali is an orthopaedic surgeon and Thamer’s son-in-law (Scott previously told me that Thamer “groomed him” to marry his daughter). He is very kind. The buffet is large and includes many fresh salads (Fatoosh, etc), lentil soup, kabobs, grilled fish, beans, yogurt, hummous and tea. I’m going to be happy here. I feel much better. It’s around 3:30pm and the next scheduled event is a dinner at 8pm. Time for a ... read more

Middle East » Kuwait » Al Kuwait March 29th 2017

So, the smooth sailing had to stop at some point, yah? Not that anything bad happened. At all. I have had far greater travel woes. We flew into Kuwait instead of Basrah because it was about half the price. Probably will splurge next time. It started great. We land in Kuwait City and we obtain our visas and skate through customs. We meet with Dr. Rick Wilkerson and Professor Thamer Hamdan. Rick is a sports surgeon in Iowa and Thamer is the Chancellor of the University of Basrah, where he also works as a spine surgeon. He is dressed sharply in a suit and speaks English very well. He is gracious and kind and makes it clear he hopes that I find a second home in Basrah. He is a charmer and carries an air of ... read more

Finally all set. Luggage all packed and in 2 hours leaving for the airport. Seth, the Paragon 28 rep, is going to drop off some supplies and then drive me to the airport. I am meeting up with Dr. Scott Hoffinger, a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon also from Stanford, at the airport and we are flying Emirates from SFO to Dubai to Kuwait where we will await a shuttle to Basrah. That’s what they tell me, anyway. Packing was interesting. I have a lot of long sleeved shirts, long skirts and pants. I have two scarves – unclear if I will need to cover my head or not. I brought my white coat as I feel this will be the most recognizable at the hospital, as I assume most people will wonder what the white, redheaded woman ... read more

North America » United States » Alaska » Seward May 26th 2015

And now the drive to Seward. We plan for about seven hours. We've already done the first 4 1/2, and this is no more exciting on the way down. A notable exception is the town of Talkeetna. Can't say that Talkeetna itself is all that great, but it's an ironic granola hippy town in the middle of nowhere, Alaska. We do get a few awesome views of Denali and a nice cup of coffee. Talkeetna is a great spot for Denali adventure sports and is a hub of a lot of the air tours, rafting, and other adventure tours. My favorite part of the town is that the mayor of Talkeetna is a fat cat named Stubbs. He has been the mayor for 17 years. From Anchorage to Seward the scenery changes. It is just breathtaking ... read more

We arrived very early, not quite with the sun as the sun rises around 3 AM, but around 6 AM. We make breakfast, pack our lunches and head off to the park. We start our day with a summit of Mount Healy. It's only a 3100 foot elevation gain, but this is accomplished in less than 2 miles so it is quite steep. And to our happy surprise, the sun is bright and shining and it's almost 70°. It is crystal clear, and we have the promise of getting a great view of Mount Denali. Alaska fun fact: Mt Denali is the tallest mountain in the United States, also known as Mt McKinley. The highest peak is over 20,000 feet. Mt Healy is challenging, but the views at the top are incredible. We make our way ... read more

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