I’m Only an Engineer

I really planned on writing an extensive post about the amazing safari we took over the weekend (I think we are allowed to visit some of the most incredible natural places left on earth in between classes and work), but really, the only way to describe it is to look back over my pictures. Unfortunately, I can’t share them with you just yet. That’ll wait until August.

On Friday, we did do our second hospital visit. I wasfinally able to get into a tour of the facilities and saw some pretty dismal conditions. For example, the difference between the dirty outside and the ‘sterile’ surgery rooms was a solid white line. In order to cross it, I had to change my shoes. Seriously, it was a great deterrent for any potential dangerous activities I may have pursued (though if anyone reading this really knows me, they know I’m pretty risk averse). We decided as a group that none of us want to have any type of medical procedure done here if we had the opportunity.

In more positive news, Roshan and I were able to sit down with a centrifuge. The lab technician told us it was turning on, but the motor wasn’t turning. Turns out, there are small carbon ‘brushes’ that rub up against the sides of the motor to drive current so it rotates. They weren’t making good connection to the actual motor. Normally, we would have outright replaced them, but because we were only there for one day, we didn’t have time to go to a hardware store to get two more outfitted, so we simply switched the two existing one as a temporary solution and left a note on the side of the object for the next people. This way, they could quickly repair the known problem, as opposed to troubleshooting it all over again.

I also got the opportunity to look at the bedside monitor I was working on last time. After deciding it wasn’t a mechanical problem with the cuff, and once we got the power going, Michelle and I took it apart thoroughly. After poking around for a half hour, Larry helped us figure out that the pneumatics (the air/electronics interface) were broken. These parts were crucial to help the machine measure things like pulse and blood pressure. They are very specific parts, and even if we were able to miraculously find them, it would have been nearly impossible to replace them on the machine with the tools we had. My first triage case where we decided that this piece of equipment had to be marked as unrepairable. Sad.

As for the weekend, I went to Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater. We saw elephants, zebras, wildebeasts, giraffes, hippos, lions, flamingos, monkeys, antelopes, hyenas, scenery, mountains, lakes, and some of the most incredible natural views in the world. Really, come find me and look at my pictures. Even without a fancy DSLR, I was able to capture some incredible sights. I can’t say enough how beautiful the place was, and I wish I had the words to describe it, but alas, I’m only an engineer, not a poet.

Ended the weekend with a chance to give my dad a call for Father’s Day (I hope you remembered!) and watched some more World Cup Soccer. I’m geared up for my last week at TCDC, with the beginning of my actual hospital work starting next week in the city of Marangu.

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