Tabitha Getting out of the Boat

Journey to Peru

Challenged &Changed


Tuesday December 11, 2013- Saturday December 22, 2013

Tuesday December 11

The time is now 9:26 am. Touchdown. I finally made it to Iquitos,Peru three airplanes removed. While I was on the plane I read over my case studies and I am still very nervous. The flight from Dallas to Lima, I traded seats with Ms.Davis because she was about to die from all the noise that the kids were making. Somehow there was a “kids section” on the plane and I saw the annoyance and helpless look in Ms. Davis’s eye and I told her I would trade seats with her. There was a mother nursing next to me a family with 3 kids in front of me a mother and her baby in the row next to me it was truly the “kids section”. Because of all the crying and laughter around me I couldn’t take a nap so I just read and chuckled at the actions of the playful kids. I clearly saw that being a parent is very tiring and traveling on a six hour flight with them is dreadful for the parents and other fliers.  Once we made it to Lima we had to go through customs. That was interesting. We had to get our luggage and haul it through security all over again. Going through customs we were given a few forms that we were to fill out. One of the forms had I stamp on it. Before checking in to our flight from Lima to Iquitos one of the airport workers told Dominique that we could rip up all the forms except the one he showed her. So foolishly I ripped up all the forms including the one with the stamp from customs. Something told me to tell Ms.Davis. I told Ms.Davis and she looked at me like I was crazy and I felt crazy for a millisecond. She went on to tell me that in order to leave the Peru I need that form. I was so upset at myself for listening to Dominique. I learned a valuable lesson though even before I made it to Iquitos. Listen to the RIGHT people. By right I mean Knowledgeable and credible. Listening to the wrong people can result in some horrible consequences in my case it would have been being left in Peru. But anyways I kept the ripped up paper in my bag and prayed that the Lord would work it out by December 22. At the airport in Lima we had a little layover so I indulged in my first “Inca Kola” Ms.Davis and Courtney raved about it so I finally got to taste it and boy was it good. After a couple minutes in the food court we made our way to the gate to board our last flight to Iquitos. The flight was not long at all. The entire plane ride all I could think about was our nervous I was and that I am about to embark on a journey that I cannot even fathom.  I got off the plane and there was no ramp. Just Peruvian Air and stairs. Walked down the stairs to the ground.
Looking around, taking it all in I all I could see were trees. Had an island-like feel to it.  We were greeted by some Peruvian men who helped us with our luggage and walked us to a bus. The bus was tiny no air-conditioner just “windows”. Leaving the airport there was a sign that said Con Creatividad Todas es Possible. I smiled at the sight of that because for some reason it assured me that I was going to be OK.  The interesting thing about the roads in Iquitos is that they don’t have lanes the motorcycles and buses just ride. The buildings I saw looked little shabby. The ride to the hotel was not long. We made it to Hotel Posado de Lobo and the staff was very welcoming. They told us our roommates and room numbers upon arrival. My roommate was from ASU Alayna, a freshmen. The hotel was not fancy at all but it was livable. I am not use to these living conditions at all but this week it is not about me and it is certainly not about me being comfortable. It is about others I am realizing that that really is how all health care professionals should operate: selflessly and caring primarily about the needs of others. Well I welcome this test on my view of life and how I see the world and how the world sees me. I pray that God uses me in a wonderful way and teaches me so much through this program.

  • Nervous


End of Day 1

Well today has been ‘horrible’. I feel so overwhelmed. Someone please save me. The queen is far from her castle and must get home. Today we had to pay 13 sols to go to the zoo.  I didn’t even want to go to the zoo. All in all as I sat and moped on the bus for a millisecond it hit me that this is a learning moment. I am not entitled to anything. As a future health care professional I should remember the feelings I had when I had to come out of pocket and remember that my patients are entitled to outstanding treatment and care.  For some reason Dr.Rolling thought we should all go cycling and go at Dr.Rolling’s pace. Cycling was INTENSE. I went with my hair laid for days and came out with all kind of kinks and curls in my hair and sweat everywhere. I was dripping with sweat and beyond whooped.  “PT” definitely prepared me for this Dr. Rolling workout.  I kept going and did not give up. FOCUS. Dr. Rolling after the workout stated to us ‘Healthy Body, Healthy Mind’ I will go on to say Successful Person. On the bike I was about to hurt Dr.Rolling I was so tired but I had to push I had to endure till the end. I had hope. I had to realize that the end far outweighed the temporary pain. The lecture after the workout definitely scared me a little. No I not even going to lie it scared me a lot. I even, texted my mom that I was afraid and felt unable to make it to the end. I don’t want to be here. Barry needs to come save me. Lord help these days to swiftly pass. I cannot believe that I haven’t even started and I am scared. What has gotten in to me. I’m so nervous it’s unreal I feel way outside of my comfort zone.
Day 2

The time is now 1:04 am. It is technically Friday. Today was a very long day I Woke up at 5:30 am and of course went back to sleep my roommate and I barely made breakfast. Sadly well not sadly but unfortunately I  had no blue scrub pants to go with the blue TPaIDA shirts Ms.Davis had made for us. Fortunately Courtney had an extra pair of blue scrub pants that I could use. This morning when I woke up I was still a little nervous but shook it off and said girl you Queen Tab. The Lord sent me a lovely verse to put in my scrubs Proverbs 27:17..Wise son… it starts. The verse greatly lifted my spirit. We got on the taxi at 7:30 and it took us to the Iquitos Hospital. The hospital was extremely far from modern and looked so outdated.  The hospital was built in 1945 and it looked as though it hadn’t been remodeled since. Still a little apprehensive I walked into the hospital auditorium. This morning we were greeted by the president of the hospital  and the distinguished doctors of the hospital. All of them were pleasant and welcomed us. After listening to them, we were given a tour of the hospital. Saw children, mothers breastfeeding, and parents all hopeful of good healthcare. I was amazed when I went to the neonatal

Section the mothers looked so calm and hopeful. Their babies looked sick and tired. I saw my some of the TPaIDA students bring smiles to the faces of the kids by giving them candy as we walk through the hallways. The translators told the taxi guy to take us to the Hotel instead of to the restaurant. That was a little upsetting. But on the bright side the front desk clerk and I had a great talk. He asked me my name than said that from the Bible and then asked are you believer” I smiled and said yes. He then went on to tell me he just accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior in May.I am in group 1 and we had ER duty tonight. The first night and we have ER duty. From 9:00pm-3:00am shift. Before we went to the hospital my group had to go across town for lab. In the lab we looked at Malaria,Dengua and Yellow Fever. It was quite interesting I must say. After the lab we went straight to the hospital and sat in the auditorium until 9:00pm. We were trying to save sols. ER duty was pretty intriguing. Dr. Louis spoke no English but still managed to keep our group well informed and showed us everything that was going on in the hospital. Phalanadar tried to get some pointers from Dr.Louis because he could tell Dr.Louis was definitely a ladies’ man. He was very handsome. We had plenty of laughs that night with Dr.Louis and our translator and it made the night slip away. When Dr.Louis took us to the ICU there were 2 people in there an older woman in her 70s and a man in his early 20s. Dr.Louis told us why there was they and showed us the Xrays and answered all the questions we had. The 20 year old man was in a motorcycle accident and blood was being taken out his lungs through a tube. Dr.Louis went on to say that a lot of the cases in the hospital are from motorcycle accidents.  Overall it was a long day but definitely I am getting the hang of this and not nervous any more now I am excited.


Day 3

Well today was pretty awesome. I woke up around 7:30 am. We ( group 1)  went to the neonatal care center with Dr.Saliva. I learned about the infectious diseases that affect morbidity of new borns. The neonatal center was small but there were a variety of cases there. Sadly , 2 babies there had HIV. One of the babies had malaria. While in the center, one of Dr.Saliva’s assistants came in with a new-born baby and the baby’s X-rays. Inquisitive and eager to learn, I followed Dr.Saliva to the X-ray screen and listened as they spoke in Spanish. After the assistant finished talking to Dr.Saliva, I asked the assistant if he could explain. He told me that the baby’s mother has syphilis and the x-ray of the baby can help detect whether or not the baby is has syphilis. If the femur in the leg is shaped like an axe than more than likely the baby has syphilis. Thankfully the baby’s femur had the normal shape but the baby still needs blood sample for the next 6 months to be 100% sure. It was so astonishing to me that the mothers were the reasons there babies weren’t healthy. The child didn’t make a decision that led to contracting the disease but the mother’s decision negatively impacted the baby quality of life. As a future health care professional why is this information important? How does the world of dentistry mesh into the knowledge I gained today? Is is that like as a future dentist I must be mindful that the choices of my patients parents or family greatly impact my patients? Or is it that maybe one day one of my child patients will be HIV positive from birth but need a smile or need to feel secure with their smile through my help? Things to think about. The list can go on. Dr.Rolling upset me earlier but he never fails to teach me something about my personality and my tolerance level. As a future dentist, I must be mindful and tactful with my attitude. I know how it feels to feel unimportant or my words not good enough but what I learned today is that in the future when I am in my career no matter how much I KNOW I MUST ALWAYS BE PERSONABLE AND RELATABLE AND KIND. Educated is not being book-smart but KNOWING AND TREATING others how they are to be treated. After the neonatal center my group went to the Chinese restaurant and we split a big bowl of fried rice. Quite tasty I must say. I love my translator Eschucho. He is so friendly and loving and I am thankful for his beautiful spirit. Side note I only had to pay 2 sols to get to the restaurant instead of 3 because I spoke to the driver in Spanish all by myself.After eating group 1  and I made our way back to the hospital. We decided to roam the hospital. We went into a room and saw a little girl crying. While the nurse held her down. The nurse popped a large blister on her foot and applied alcohol . We continued to walk around ( Phalander gave a little girl some candy) around 3:15 we headed back to auditorium. There we laughed and talked. At 4:00 pm the anesthesiologist came and took us to the OR. It was great Dominique got to scrub down and I was the anesthesiologist. Well I was assisting him. The anesthesiologist was so nice. The first surgery was a young boy no older than 6. He apparently broke bone in his elbow. They doctors had to cut open arm and drill rods in. It was pretty amazing. I love how the anesthesiologist saw me sitting down and came to me and asked me my name. He than wanted to teach me. This Peruvian doctor wanted to teach me. Greatest feeling ever. I love his desire to want and share his field with me. I told him my name and from that moment on he always referred to me by my name. He was awesome. Humble , educated, teacher, mi amigo.Though I was only under his wing for 2 hours I admire him and he will forever be remembered. As a future health care professional, I must remember the power of knowing names. I know how special I felt when he remembered my name and must make my patients feel the same EXACT WAY. I must also teach. He wanted to TEACH me. He wanted to SHARE. He wanted to INSPIRE. I must want to TEACH,SHARE, and INSPIRE. These are characteristics of  GREATNESS, HUMBLENESS, and TRUE SUCCESS.  The doctors in Peru make the best of the limited equipment and gear they have. I admire the way they utilize their equipment in an efficient and beneficial way. Some nurses wear plastic bags one their shoes because they don’t have ‘botas’ ( covers for OR) because they are too expensive. They are innovative and know how to make the most of what they have.  Our translator came and got us at 6:00 to fo to anesthesiology lecture it was GREAT. The information was very intriguing and the Peruvian man did a great job speaking in English. Lecture with Dr.Rolling was great. After lecture Dr.rolling asked a great question “ are you a slave to your life in America”. After lecture, I went to Ms.Davis room. That was hilarious. Had laughs for days with Phalandar and Courtney. Phalander broke the dresser with his bottom. I was laughing so hard I started crying. God is good. Oh yea the anesthesiologist spoke no English. Despite the language barrier he wanted to still teach me . I must TEACH,INSPIRE, SHARE regardless of the barriers.




Day 4

Amazing day. Well most of it. Yesterday we did what were suppose to do this morning so we ( group 1) thought we could sleep in until lecture. Well that was not the case because Eschucho came banging on my door. Saying its time to go. So I hurriedly got myself together and made my way to the taxi. I was beyond tired this morning.  We got to the hospital and had nothing to do for the first hour because no surgeries were going on. I was very frustrated and tired. Our translator decided to take us to the ER so that we could see some cases.  One of the doctors in the “Sala De cirgua” remembered my name from yesterday. I was so amped the he remembered. We followed the doctors to the different rooms that held about 6 people in them. No privacy at all for the patients. No pillows on the bed. Some didn’t even have sheets on the bed. The luxuries we feel are entitled to in the United States.  A 76 year old man had a finger amputated and I could also see that his leg was also amputated. He had diabetes. It was amazing and nice to see when the ‘big’ guy doctor came in and bring smiles to the patients. Though they looked sick and untouchable the doctor touched them like there was nothing wrong with them and treated them with such care. I truly admire that and pray that I can model this thoughtful behavior. We then were told that we could go to the OR . we got there but apparently there were no ‘ botas’ for us so we couldn’t pass through to restricted area. It was very frustrating that we had no materials. I was very confused and we ended up waiting for an hour. All in all Eschucho finally thought to  get some plastic bags that we could use. We went to go change into OR scrubs. I went to get my pants out of my bag and I had left them. I was so eager to go into the OR again I just kept on the scrub pants I had on. I walked into a room where a Cesarean surgery was taking place. I could sense that the doctor in there did not want “us” in there but I stayed until the baby came out. The procedure was quite interesting.  For some reason I was very famished and hot. I walked to the end of the hall of the OR and sat on the benches. Two cute clean healthy children were sitting and talking and playing.  I could tell there father was one of the doctors because the little 9 year old girl had a cell phone. I was tinkled pink when I saw it. I continued to sit and mope in the sitting area.  A couple minutes the wonderful anesthesiologist I met yesterday walked to were I was and I saw the kids light up. That is their father I thought.  They were so adorable. I asked if I could take a picture. The doctor looked at me and smiled and said “no help” “ you no want to help” in Spanish. I then smiled and said I will and than he introduced me to his kids. He definitely loves the and they love him.  I really like how he reaches out to me. And wants me to learn. After that encounter I “picked up my face”  and followed him back to the OR room. That was the smartest thing I did. He didn’t realize I had followed him back there so I saw that he asked Domonique to assist him. But I jumped right next to her and said I am back. I want to help. “ Me,me” he smiled and signaled me to come. He showed me how to put on the gloves and how to insert the needle. I was so nervous. I just mirrored everything he did. So Tabitha Lewis gave epidural to  a teenage girl. I felt totally awesome afterwards. He looked at me and said ‘next time by yourself’. A big smile went across my face. I felt so happy to be under his wing. Within a few minutes the girl was could not feel any pain. I felt accomplished. The reason the girl was there was because she had extreme pain near her appendix. The doctor knew that she needed her appendix removed to take away severe pain.  Carla assisted with the surgeries. When I saw the little appendix that was causing all that pain I though to myself ‘ little things make a big difference’ As a future dentist,  my patients may get big pains from little things and I must be able to pinpoint it so that they can live comfortably. Also today we did suturing lab. We had to suture pig skin it was pretty rough. I feel more and more like a health care professional each day here.

Day 5

Disgusting. Polluted. Contaminated. Oblivion. Today I woke up put on clothes that covered my entire body and wore my jungle boats. Today, Dr. Rolling took us to Berlin, Peru. Now before I went to Berlin I was under the notion that it couldn’t get in worse as far as living conditions. Well I was COMPLETELY wrong.  When I say that Berlin is the hub for alot of diseases I am being beyond honest. We had to take a taxi to Berlin and we were instructed not to have any of our electronic out for a long period of time because someone would snatch it and run. We walked in a single file line through the crowds through the market. They degree of un-cleanliness was so high and unreal that i took so many pictures. Ironically the people felt like celebrities because that smiled  as if they were doing the right thing. They were all oblivious to the vectors and diseases that were right there because of them.  I was beyond horrified . Flies everywhere. All OVER the the open food just laying on the tables. People were NOT washing their hands. Dogs with rabies laying on the tables with not a care in the world and the people having NO problem with it. DISGUSTING is an understatement. I saw a cute little girl in the market and gave her some candy and continued walking with the group. We saw roasted maggots, cut up alligator, snake, and other foreign food throughout the market. Everyone there followed the same health code which was NONE at all. We even walked through the market to where they live. There living conditions were so awful . Because it had rained previous to us getting there the “roads” were yet and there was so much mud. Dr. Rolling pointed out a clinic that that was put there because they are far from a hospital. As we walk through their village we start giving out candy. Before we knew it kids were coming from everywhere some with no shoes on which was horrifying. Also while in Berlin we went to the Amazon River that flows through Berlin. It was filthy. There was a lot of trash in the river and it was beyond sad. After walking through the village, we made our way to the taxis. I felt so DIRTY. When we got to hotel we had to take off our shoes and get them sprayed with alcohol and put them outside of our doors. I ran to the shower and decontaminated myself. The day before the ASU people got lost because we told the taxi to take us to the Chinese restaurant but we had to walk and we walk there and the place is close. Now we are in Peru with no translator and hungry. The only thing we knew how to say was Hotel Posado de Lobo. I walked up to a police officer and asked him “Donde es pizza resturante?” He acted as if he couldn’t understand me than finally pointed us in the ‘right direction’. We had to have been walking for atleast 30 minutes. No pizza place. Long story short in the chaos we found agrocery store that had restaurant in back. We sad there and ate and the owner found us someone that could translate for us. The food was great and we loved the camu camu. Delicious refreshing drink. Because we enjoyed this place so much we went they once we got cleaned up at the hotel after Berlin and ate good. Though I was a little tired I couldn’t go to sleep after eating . Group 1 had ER duty tonight.  It was a great and interesting night.  Dr. Louis took us around the ER and sadly we saw a familiar patient. The young man that was in a motorcycle accident and was ICU my first night being on call was there again for another motorcycle accident. This time though he had ran into a tree and was in a coma. His father was there and I could tell how Dr.Louis was explaining it that there the young man might die because he has internal bleeding real bad. The longer they wait to do surgery his condition gets worse. Dr.Louis than to ok us to the Gynecology room. 2 women were in there. Dominique really wanted to deliver a baby so I stayed back with and Phalander and Shenell left. We had to have been waiting for hours but the wait did not outweigh the joy I had and Domonique had when she DELIVERED a beautiful baby into the world. The doctor wasn’t there it was just the nurse and Domonique and Domonique took care of it like a boss.   Beyond proud of her. We left the ER around 3:30 and got a taxi. Tell me why did the taxi run out of gas while we are in transit and whose knows where. Thankfully Eschucho was with us because I would have even MORE scared out of my mind. Because it was so early in the morning no taxis were out. Escucho said we will have to walk. I looked at him like he was crazy. Walk ? how long is the walk I iquried or just 10 minute. That was a lie . I saw a taxi far far down the road so I did everything in my power to wave it down because my pretty behind was not getting kidnapped in Iquito, Peru. Headline Story: ‘Queen Tab has been abducted by the people of Peru. 4 million for her ransom.’ I was shaking. But anyways the taxi thankfully saw us and made its way to us. I almost did a praise dance. I was so happy. Then Eschucho had the nerve to say well my house is right here so yall go ahead to the hotel. I said No eschucho I will pay for you to come back on the taxi Please come with us. He decided to come along and I told him how much I love him and how much I appreciated it. Today was definitely an unforgettable night.

Day 6

Today was pretty nice. Went to the infectious disease center of the hospital. Saw cases of TB, HIV, Malaria, Dengue.  We had to wear mask while on this floor because some of diseases travel through the air. The doctor was very nice. He answered all the questions and described all the cases. One room that we went in had a young man on 17 years old. had contracted HIV. The doctor even went on to say that there is a law that prohibits doctors to ask anyone under the age of 18 if they are sexual active or about their sex life. The catholic religion plays a vital role in this law.


Day 7

Today I put a IV in someone, successfully. Proud pre-health student. Shenell was a great patient and nurse. I was a little nervous but it went very smoothly. Dominique was hilarious she would let Fred do what he needed to  she was crying like a little baby. But she got through it. Before IV lab we went to the OR. They didn’t have that many surgeries going on. Phalandar delivered a baby. That was pretty awesome. Carla got to assist the nurses in cleaning the baby. Overall today was pretty good. Tomorrow is the jungle I am beyond nervous about that. Tonight we wrapped up the gifts for the children in the jungle and packed our bags. Dr. Rolling said to meet in lobby at 7:30 am. That sounds just “great”. Group 1 decided to go to ER tonight with the other group since we know we are leaving soon we want to experience all we can before we leave. We went but there was nothing going on and Dr. Louis wasn’t there. We ended up leaving at around 12:00am.

Day 8

We took a boat from Iquitos on the the Amazon River. The boat was narrow and very low. The ride was about 2 hours. We made it to our first destination and got out the boat was sprayed down with OFF by Dr.Rolling and followed Eschucho to the village. The hike was about 15 minutes and we ended d up trading and getting souvenirs and dancing with the villager. Some people even blew in the long blow gun that the villagers use to catch food. The people were nice and I really enjoyed myself. We made our way back to the boat and road on the boat for another maybe 30 minutes. We hiked up some steep stays to where food was waiting on us. Dr.Rolling then went on to say that we would be staying here for the night. My stomach sank. I really didn’t want to stay in the jungle. But he told us to leave our stuff hear but to just breing our gifts and plenty of water for the hike through the Amazon jungle. We got back on the boat and made our way down the river to another village. We got off the boat and Dr. Rolling said follow Eschucho. Eschucho had the machete. I knew that I was save if I was with him so I made sure I moved as swiftly and at the same pace as him. I was right up under him. I knew that in order for me to not go bunkers crazy I had to take the pain and not stop walking with Eschucho. I was tired no doubt but I stayed up front. About an hour in something bit my leg. I have no idea how something  managed to bite my leg and I had so much outerwear and underwear on but I guess it was a Amazon Bug so it could bite against anything. I wanted to quit I wanted to give up I wanted to just run back to the boat but I couldn’t . all I could hear Courtney( fellow intern) behind saying think about the children you can do it. I pushed myself way outside my comfortzone with this one and boy was I scared. Scared of snakes. Animals. Shoot I was scared of the jungle period. But I knew that in order to finish I must remain focused and determined to reach the goal. The journey was not about me being comfortable but about bringing joy to OTHERs. After the long hike through the jungle we finally made it to the village. The village children had the biggest smiles on the face. They greeted us a mile before we got to there village. The sight of the children made all my frustrations from the jungle go away. It was beyond an amazing feeling. They had fresh fruits cut open and ready for us to devour. I was happy. I felt accomplished. I felt like it ALL was worth it. All the sweat and ‘animal/insect bites’ was worth it. We sang to them than passed out the gifts than played soccer with them. I sad down on the sides with some of the teenagers and I helped this young guy set up his waterproof watch and even spoke in Spanish to him. I am thankful for this trip also because I have been forced to improve my Spanish. After the soccer way we made our way back through the jungle to get to our boat. This leg of the trip I was in the back . I was no wear near the front. I was whooped and holding up the rear with my girl Domonique and Courtney. Phalander stayed back with us and kept us going but I couldn’t keep up with Eschucho. I relied on solely God for my protection through the jungle. We got to the boat 2 hours removed and boy did I feel like a champ. A soaked sweaty champ. But none the less a champ indeed. I, Queen Tab, survived the Amazon jungle. Who would have thought I could. Proud I am . I am very proud. Now we made our back to where we will be laying our heads. Tell me why the water didn’t work in the ‘shower’ in my room. But I found a shower that did work. Sleeping in those rooms was torment. I slept with one eye open. I didn’t even want to go to sleep because of all the insects that kept popping up. But my body wouldn’t let me stay up. 6 of us crammed on 2 beds in a 4 bed room because we were scared out of our minds. Memories I will have for a lifetime indeed.


Day 9

So my hair is a mess and I wore a hat  the entire day. Thankfully when he got back to Iquitos Dominique did it for me. Any who I am not out of the jungle. Before we left the jungle. We were taken to see the pink dolphins and the monkeys. The dolphins were gorgeous. We made our way to what I thought was going to be a zoo but it was a Peruvian Zoo in that there were no cages. All the monkeys began running towards us when we got off the boat. I am terribly afraid of animals so I tried to keep my cool. There were anacondas. Sloths, parakeet. All free and about just roaming. Pretty awesome if you aren’t afraid of animals. We made our way back to the boat and had our last meal at the place we were staying in the jungle. The food was beyond delicious. I enjoyed every bite of it. That was the only good thing about the living quarters was the food. We made our way back to the boat and took what felt like forever boat ride back to Iquitos. I was never so happy to see Iquitos as I was when I did while I was on the boat. It was great to feeling be “home”. Took a couple showers at the hotel and got my hair did and FaceTimed my little sister. I survived. I survived The Amazon. Go Tabby. Go girl!

Day 10

It is Friday Morning and it is my last day here in Peru. I can’t believe this day has finally come. God kept me. Thank you Lord. Today we are going to the shops downtown for some last minute shopping and than we are on our way to the airport at 4.