Top 10 from the Gobi

While the entire trip has been amazing, Lindsay and I thought it would be fun to share a Top 10 from our week in the Gobi! Hope you enjoy!

  1. Doggii is perfect – Doggii is our tour guide and she is THE BEST! If you ever find yourself itching to go to Mongolia, please contact Doggii. She can do all things and is basically the MacGyver/Bond Girl of the Gobi.
  2. Dr. Evans has a great “Woo Woo” when he is really excited. You should ask him about it anytime and every time you see him.
  3. Believe it or not, Dr. Sheth slowly overcame some of his neurotic tendencies. In fact, he fell in love with camel riding and horseback riding. Even though he didn’t speak for the first 10 minutes on the camel, we assumed he was having a great time.
  4. Don’t try and keep up with the drivers or Doggii while hiking. They can hike the highest cliff with the sharpest rocks in dress shoes and make it look easy, while the rest of the group is trying not to fall off the cliff.
  5. Ger camps are amazing and not as awful as the previous group claimed. Despite what they said, we did not experience any aggressive spiders or battle an army of flies.
  6. Always bring Dramamine. LOTS OF DRAMAMINE. The roads in the Gobi are non-existant and will push your stomach to its limits.
  7. The stargazing potential in the Gobi is life changing. There is next to no light pollution which means that we got an “HD” version of the night sky. You can see everything: the Milky Way, shooting stars, constellations, galore.
  8. Horses can be LAZY! Be sure to find a guide that is an expert in motivating the horses to keep moving.
  9. Come prepared for hot and cold weather. The Gobi can have mood swings.
  10. The sense of isolation in the Gobi is both restorative and scary. Being at the ger camps, you can look around in all directions and not see anything for miles. (Sometimes SB would have thoughts that involved “if I got hurt out here, how far away is the closest medical center? -Far -OK clumsy self, don’t get hurt”)

 

 

Week 2 Summary: Ethan

During Week 2, we flew to the Gobi desert and explored the amazing beauty and saw how the Mongolian people survive such a desolate climate. You have not seen stars until you go to the Gobi Desert and look at the night sky. Without any light pollution, the entire sky is speckled with bright, shining stars. You can even see the Milky Way! During the days, we saw incredible sights such as Vulture Canyon, the Great Mongolian Sand Dunes, the burning cliffs where many dinosaur fossils have been found, and met wonderful people along the way- Lived an upscale version of the Mongolian nomadic lifestyle- love the dirt roads!. Dr. Sheth was even brave enough to ride a camel with us, although I must admit he looked terrified for a good portion of the ride. Then we flew back to UB, and drove to Tyrelj  National Park where we took in the vastly different landscape, visited a Buddhist temple, and rode horses on the special Mongolian wooden saddles back to our ger camp. Then we had a day in UB to relax, explore the city, and prepare for our 36-hour journey back home. 

NO doubt this was a trip of a lifetime, and certainly changed many of my perspectives on this world. Can’t wait to go again!

Ethan

End of Trip Reflections from Eric

Well our week at NCMCH has come to an end and today the team said good-bye to old friends and new friends as well. Overall, it was probably the best interaction we have had in our 4 visits to the center. Everyone we met at the hospital seemed hungry for information and consultations and all of the lectures given by the team were incredibly well received. Drs. Sheth, and Evans, Nurse Sarah and Child Life Therapist Lindsey were absolutely amazing. On the last night Dr. Enkhtur, the Hospital director invited us to dinner at the ShangriLa with the leaders of foreign affairs department and each of the departments we participated in. Although Dr. Enkhtur was in the end unable to come, it was a wonderful way to wrap up the week and all were interested in when our next visit would be. There was a long discussion about which subspecialists they would like us to bring including Pediatric surgery, Palliative care, pathology and immunology among others.

As far as hem/onc is concerned, the new center is spectacular and the commitment and hard work of the team is quite evident. However they have a number of challenges coming up including the transfer of all the solid tumor patients from the National Cancer Center to the Children’s Hospital. In the end this is the right thing for all concerned, but at this time, the oncologists at the NCMCH have no experience taking care of children with solid tumors, nor does the pathologist. In addition, radiation therapy, so important in treating solid tumors is also a problem. They also are in the planning for a palliative care program and even a stem cell transplant program. We spent a great deal of time talking about treatment protocols, diagnostic tools, formularies and staff needs. On my return home, I plan to work with my colleagues in Mongolia to develop diagnosis specific treatment plans and encouraged them to send us any questions we might be able to help with including diagnostic path slides for interpretation. I believe we will continue to have ongoing communication and that this relationship inspired by Jonathan Soud will only get stronger!

Thank you so much to all of our supporters- especially the Soud family and Wolfson Children’s Hospital!

Week 1 Reflections from Ethan

Since I last wrote a post, I was able to spend some time in Neurology, Gastroenterology, and at the Developmental Center at Dr. Rita’s orphanage. During the remainder of our week at WCMC, I learned more about the difference between American health care and Mongolian health care. Aside from the differences in medicines that are available for the physicians to prescribe and administer, the equipment is also vastly different. The neurologist at the hospital has been treating patients with seizures without the availability of an EEG! For Hematology/Oncology, the physicians were not comfortable with the hospital’s pathologists interpretation of solid tumors as they had so little experience.

It is important to realize that in the few years that the Wolfson’s group has been coming to Mongolia, the hospital has undergone significant changes. The Hematology/Oncology unit went from one room with about 12 beds, to THREE FLOORS in a brand new building totaling 56 beds! They are constantly learning and improving, and will begin to receive patients with brain tumors and solid tumors in January. The residents and new physicians that we encountered all work extremely hard, but the person who works the hardest is the social worker, who is the only one for the whole hospital and volunteers her time on the weekend to make sure she has time to spend with Hem/Onc patients and their families. What I took away from this trip is that all of the staff at WCMC has the intelligence and drive to provide excellent health care. What they lack, is some of the necessary resources that American medicine takes for granted. Their job in Mongolia is incredibly difficult, yet they are always optimistic toward the future as they continue to gain new technology and resources that they can use.

Overall, the medical center was surprising for the improvement they have had over the last few years, especially that new building. The reason the system continues to improve, however, is the bright, hard-working staff that is constantly looking for innovative ways to treat their patients with their limited resources. I look forward to seeing or hearing about the strides they take over the next few years, and hope that they continue to improve at the rapid pace I observed during my time Mongolia Bound.

-Ethan Sandler

Photos from Day 1-4 at the Mother & Children’s Hospital

More pictures & posts coming soon! I promise!

-Sarah

(*All photos showing patient’s faces were taken with parental consent*)

Patients undergo all of their lumbar punctures and bone marrow aspirates while awake. For this procedure, Lindsay tucked herself into the corner and offered some pain relief via distraction.

Patients undergo all of their lumbar punctures and bone marrow aspirates while awake. For this procedure, Lindsay tucked herself into the corner and offered some pain relief via distraction.

The AMAZING Social Worker who has been our translator for the week. (Also, she does the job of about 50 people: Social Worker for 29 departments, including taking care of staff, coordinating volunteers, AND has taken on the role of developing a Child Life program at the hospital.

The AMAZING Social Worker who has been our translator for the week. (Also, she does the job of about 50 people: Social Worker for 29 departments, including taking care of staff, coordinating volunteers, AND has taken on the role of developing a Child Life program at the hospital.

Some of the nurses that were at Lindsay & Sarah's presentations.

Some of the nurses that were at Lindsay & Sarah’s presentations.

Lindsay introducing Child Life to the staff. This has been their first time ever hearing about the amazing resource that Child Life is!

Lindsay introducing Child Life to the staff. This has been their first time ever hearing about the amazing resource that Child Life is!

Sarah with the Hem/Onc nurses and residents.

Sarah with the Hem/Onc nurses and residents.

Lindsay providing some giggly distraction during an IV start.

Lindsay providing some giggly distraction during an IV start.

always gotta double check the chemo! ;)

always gotta double check the chemo! ;)

Nurses here do their own type & cross labs.

Nurses here do their own type & cross labs.

Here, a nurse is mixing chemotherapy in their new safety hood! They didn't have this last year! This is such a good example of how this trip and how Jonathan is continuing to change lives here for the better.

Here, a nurse is mixing chemotherapy in their new safety hood! They didn’t have this last year! This is such a good example of how this trip and how Jonathan is continuing to change lives here for the better.

A neuro patient is excited to show Ethan her new toy.

A neuro patient is excited to show Ethan her new toy.

IMG_2398

LOTS of bubbles!

LOTS of bubbles!

Lindsay introducing bubbles to the inpatient children which started a discussion about utilizing deep breathing as a coping skill during painful procedures.

Lindsay introducing bubbles to the inpatient children which started a discussion about utilizing deep breathing as a coping skill during painful procedures.

Dad's know how to do their daughter's hair too!

Dad’s know how to do their daughter’s hair too!

Morning rounds involving the whole family.

Morning rounds involving the whole family.

A traditional Mongolian

A traditional Mongolian “dream catcher”

hide and seek!

hide and seek!

When we were in the Neuro area, Sarah found this curious little cutie.

When we were in the Neuro area, Sarah found this curious little cutie.

IMG_2311 IMG_2310

Dr. Sheth and Dr. Sandler collaborating about a possible new neuro-onc patient.

Dr. Sheth and Dr. Sandler collaborating about a possible new neuro-onc patient.

every chart has it's own flair

every chart has it’s own flair

IMG_2295

sweet sleep

sweet sleep

Getting a tour of the new hem/onc floor which includes a safety hood for mixing chemo and palliative care rooms.

Getting a tour of the new hem/onc floor which includes a safety hood for mixing chemo and palliative care rooms.

The new play room in the brand new hem/onc floor!

The new play room in the brand new hem/onc floor!

IMG_2255

Some of the medical team collaborating about a post-op patient.

Some of the medical team collaborating about a post-op patient.

IMG_2249

PICU Nurses

PICU Nurses

Sarah & Lindsay with a new inpatient child after a delivery of goodies!

Sarah & Lindsay with a new inpatient child after a delivery of goodies!

Sarah speaking about the importance of pain management across all patient populations.

Sarah speaking about the importance of pain management across all patient populations

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 150 other followers