Lake Atitlan from the San Pedro Volcano

Lake Atitlan from the San Pedro Volcano
Lake Atitlan from the San Pedro Volcano

20 December 2006

Counting Down

December 19, 2006 7:08pm

It’s snowing again! It’s snowing again!! After over six weeks of rainy, unseasonably warm weather, the cold has come! And, so has the snow. Well, at least there is enough of the fluffy white stuff to almost cover the ground. No big snowstorm in sight. That’s okay… there will be plenty of time for that in the rest of the winter months. I just love to see the flakes as they fall from the sky and are illuminated by streetlights. Simply magical!!

Life is going well here… everyone is getting all excited to celebrate Christmas with their family and friends. I, for one, cannot wait to get home and give my family some big hugs : )

I’ve had a pretty fun and diverse last couple of days. Yesterday morning I showed up at the Rheumatology Dept at Karolinska Hospital and shadowed a doctor. Sweet. We saw (haha), rather, he saw a handful of patients and I tagged along. One guy had a trigger finger that wouldn’t stop curling; he was given a cortisone shot. Another guy had some arthritis and fluid buildup in both knees; saw the fluid drained and another shot given. One woman had gout; she had a bunch of white bumps (made of excess uric acid) collected just beneath her old, almost translucent skin. She was in the clinic for help with pain management because some of the little bumps (which can grow to be quite large if not treated in a timely fashion) had developed in joints. Imagine bumpy, hard clusters rubbing between bones and ligaments. Ouch. She was a sweet old lady with bright blue eyes. One rather young girl (perhaps in her late 20s) was there for a routine transfusion treatment to help manage the pain of her arthritis. A man in a clinical trial for a certain pain medication had an appointment for a regular visit as part of the research protocol. He had two black eyes because he had just previously fallen (unrelated to the study or arthritis he suffered from). He was a very pleasant older gentleman with a black leather vest and what-looked-to-be cowboy boots.

The doctor I shadowed did an excellent job of telling me the story of each patient and teaching me the specifics about each different condition. Even though I was not able to understand all the details of the doctor-patient interaction because, of course, all that talk was done in Swedish, he did fill me in both during the visit and after. It was really quite interesting to see how the Swedish medical system works… or, at least, how a microcosm of the system operates. For instance, all prescriptions are written and filed electronically. The prescribing doctor completes an online form that is electronically signed and submitted to all pharmacies throughout Sweden. The patient is not responsible for carrying a tiny sheet with an illegible prescription to his or her pharmacy, rather one can just show up at any Swedish pharmacy and the prescription is already present and ready to be filled. Nice. There was a similar system for patients who needed to have orthotics made for them; however, due to the necessity of having multiple appointments involved with the creation of personal orthotics, this system was effective, though not quite as seamless as the prescription system. What else… I didn’t really talk much at all to patients myself – to hear about their experience from the patient perspective, but most people seemed content with the movement and order of events in the office. Someone once told me that Swedes are good at standing in lines… not said as an insult at all, rather as a fact of being in the system here. Everyone gets used to waiting his or her turn. There’s not much else that can be done except for being patient.

Brief interruption… still snowing! Perhaps even a bit harder now. And, with smaller flakes!!

I hope I am invited back to shadow some doctors in the hospital and clinics. I was connected to this doctor by our team doctor at Stanford, Dr. Lambert. Thanks!! The doctor I shadowed knew that my interest was more in pediatrics than rheumatology (though of course I was excited to follow any doctor around!), so he is going to try to contact some pediatricians. Perhaps I will get to see some of the kids’ hospital scene too.

Went into lab yesterday afternoon and today also. I made a mutant and I think it’s the right one! Yay. Still more testing to be done, but that won’t be completed until the New Year. Happy with the progress of the project at the moment. Plus, I’m learning so much! Aaron is a great teacher and everyone in the lab is so very helpful and friendly. Sort of strange to have so many people willing to be of assistance… that’s more of the Swedish attitude… always looking out for each other.

Had bball practice last night and a workout with Jose tonight at Klubb Activ. Putte ran practice last night because Anders was at the club Christmas party. Ok. Well, it was a very good practice. After practice, our team and the men’s team put on a Lucia-inspired concert for all the kids at Alvik. We sung Swedish Christmas carols. Or, tried to. They are quite beautiful. The whole production was supposed to be funny, so it was ok that I didn’t exactly know what I was doing at all! We each held a candle and had some sort of holiday costume on. I just wore some garland.

Getting very excited to be home and celebrate Jesus’ coming with my own family. Fun to be here and share in the spirit with others, but no one else is family but family. And, though I won’t get the chance to see so many of my friends, I can’t wait to talk on the actual telephone with you! Hope everyone isn’t getting too caught up in the craziness, but rather taking the time to really remember what the season is all about. This morning I was reading some of John, Chapters 14 and 15. Go read it! It’s awesome. Trust, peace, love, truth, obedience, patience… how can we not always be in complete awe and thanksgiving to Him and for sending us Jesus? God is incredible beyond out understanding. Let us really praise His name for all to see!!

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