Sunday, November 15, 2009

Milwaukee Vaccine Clinic + more

After finishing up round two of exams last week I was facing a weekend free of studying and no plans - awesome! But what to do?

As fortune would have it I had received an email calling for volunteers to help with a mass vaccine clinic in Milwaukee that was to be held on Saturday. That sounded like just the kind of thing I was looking for! A great mix of service and learning. I recruited several like-minded classmates and we drove the 1.5 hours to Webster Middle School in Milwaukee yesterday morning to help vaccinate people against H1N1.

(Our team at lunch, L-R Anst, Anna, myself, and Tramanh)

Now, I must confess that I had never actually vaccinated anyone before arriving to supposedly do just that. I had done a little blood drawing in Ecuador but that was a quite a while ago and didn't involve screaming needle-mortified young children. So, you could say I was a bit nervous. Then, the very first patient that came to the vaccinator (a local EMT) who had agreed to teach me turned out to be a screaming needle-mortified young boy. Kinda reminded me of myself actually (I had a deathly fear of needles stage during childhood for those who don't know). His cries of terror reverberated across the school gym and it took two grown women to hold him semi-still. The EMT somehow succeeded on his still moving target and I found myself hoping I would get more tranquil patients to start with...

And then it was my turn. Luckily my first patient was a calm adult and there were no problems but my third patient was a terrified young girl who although she didn't really physically flail about, she did cry and scream a fair bit. However, I got her vaccinated without messing up or hurting her and from that point on my confidence started to grow.

An hour later a father and his two adolescent kids approached my station. The father seemed quite nervous. "So, is this going to hurt a lot? You're a pro right, you know what you're doing?" I responded with a, "I've been at this for a bit, don't you worry; the last lady said she didn't even feel it." Luckily he didn't ask me to clarify what a "little bit" meant and all went smoothly:) The rest of our time helping was a blur of constant and exciting work. I met one older gentleman who was a fighter jet pilot in WWII and even flew escort missions for B-24 bombers (the plane my grandfather was a radio operator in during the war!) Small world moment for sure.

(Our team including Dr. Cindy Haq, an amazing person and doctor who supervised us for the day with me holding up an example of the signs we used to bring the next person in line to our station.)

After a late lunch Dr. Haq noted that the crowds had wound down and suggested we go explore the lake-shore of Milwaukee as things were well under control. We took her up on the offer and headed for downtown.

During our wanderings we came across a new science center/museum/aquarium that was having a free admissions day. We had fun pretending to be kids again with my favorite highlight being the sturgeon touch tank!

After arriving back in Madison Anst, Tramanh and I all spent the evening cooking, eating, talking - it was great! Anst made a Haitian inspired fish dish while I cooked up a bunch of veggies in a soysauce/brown sugar/cornstarch/ginger sauce which we had over rice. I also made an apple crisp from the huge store of apples I still have from harvesting a few weeks pack. Tramanh was blown away that young males such as ourselves could cook things that tasted so good! (Thanks mom for the instruction:)

(The cooks)

(The food)

(Enjoying the meal!)

Today was spent on chores/errands as well as a couple of hours with my young mentee Steven. For those of you that don't remember (or never knew) I am part of a youth mentorship program through the med school and this was the first time Steven and I hung out just the two of us. We cooked up chocolate milk french toast with strawberries (and of course ate copious amounts of it) and then went mountain biking. I think (and hope) he had a good time and noted he seemed much more talkative on the drive back versus when we came to my house. I look forward to more adventures with him in the future.

So that about wraps it up. I hope you are well - keep me posted on what's up in your lives if you can!