Scotland Juy 12, 2017

by Kelly Garvin

This morning we met at breakfast and then dispersed for the day’s assignments. Taylor and I got a special chance to see Maggie’s, an Integrative Medicine-Respite for cancer patients, complete with tai chi, yoga, makeup tutorials for women who’ve lost their hair, etc.  After, we reported to our wards:  some got Children’s inpatient, some got Inverness West Community, some got Renal unit–with all different varieties of dialysis.  I was there with Taylor, and we got detailed in-services on hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.  We met at least 7 patients and spoke with them extensively about their kidney failure journeys.  Today’s highlights included an in-depth teaching session on peritoneal dialysis and  feeling a strong thrill in a fistula! It felt like a train.  The patients were great, and the nurses handle different types of fistulas: traditional, buttons, necklace, etc.  The “bloods” and medications were familiar to our lectures: check K+, “urea” (BUN), and administer EPO for anemias, After getting everyone set up and checking them Q hour, we went for a tea break, and met the rest of the dialysis crew; they were friendly and chatty, and we talked about Florida and winter.

After placement, we met for dinner and went to Culloden battle field…wow…much of Scotland’s history is replete with warfare…it was surreal to walk on the grounds that had once been saturated with blood, battles that cast the die for Scotland’s future.  Here, in the mid-1700’s,  the Jacobites fell to the English, and thousands perished.  The rote names of history come alive here; we imagined how the widows felt, identifying the bodies of their dead husbands…the grave sites mound up behind the tombstones…It was oddly serene and peaceful here, as in Fort George, overlooking the Moray Firth.

From there we went to a quaint little place on the edge of Loch Ness, called the Dores Inn. It is a compound sprawling across the rocky beach of the loch, with picnic tables strewn across the lawn and pub fare readily available.  The waters were so tranquil…the sun indecisive; would it blaze; would it hide? Weather in the Highlands is predictably unpredictable, but so far has been cool, but sunny, with just a hint of melancholy.  I would say we watched the sun set, but that would be a lie; daylight here is relentless, the sun sets after 11, and rises by 4:30.

Now back at the dorm, I think back over a long, full day of experiences I will never have again.  Our American obsession with gloves. The Scottish penchant for socializing (socialising) with patients in hospital.  Our need for 100% efficient productivity, all the time. Their appreciation for quality of life, all the time. (Even our dialysis patients took holiday, thanks to NHS).  So far, Scotland is an enigmatic blend of ancient and modern, predictably familiar and yet just different enough to  keep me guessing. Tomorrow is another day.

kelly culloden


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