Alpaca My Bags: A day in the life of SIHF Peru

Talk about a FIMRC pro! Susan Davies is a FIMRC Georgia Tech Chapter Alum, has volunteered at Project Las Delicias in El Salvador, and is now participating in the Summer International Health Fellowship for Session II in Peru. Here's an excerpt from her blog, Alpaca my Bags (that she's been keeping up with while in the field - amazing!), that outlines the average day for a Summer International Health Fellow. Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Susan!

Surgery in Huancayo

So remember that circa 1950s hospital I posted about a couple weeks ago? Well Carrion Hospital is in the process of building a new hospital and the surgery area was the first to be built. Talk about a complete 180!! I felt as though I was back in the US with how clean, modern, and efficient the surgery ward was. 

There were 2 surgeries scheduled for today: a nasal polypectomy and a right hip osteosynthesis. Lauren, Dustin, Aaron, and I signed up for Monday surgeries and couldn't be more excited to see two very different ones happening simultaneously. 

Nasal Polypectomy 

The patient had polyps in her sinus cavity which needed to be surgically removed. In order to get to the nasal cavity the surgeon made the cut in her mouth right above her upper teeth. The hole was about 1 inch wide and surprisingly didn't bleed too much. 

The most interesting part of this surgery was watching the surgeon literally tap into and break through the sinus cavity barrier. Once inside, he carefully removed over 10 large polyps and placed them in to vial to be sent off for testing.

Right Hip Osteosynthesis

Gruesome and gory don't even begin to describe this one so I won't be going into too much detail. 

An osteosynthesis is the reduction and fixation of a bone fracture using implantable devices usually made out of metal ( So this little old lady fractured her upper femur near the hip joint a while ago. She underwent surgery a couple months ago and had a metal plate and screws placed on the femur bone. Unfortunately this first surgery did not help the fracture at all, it actually made it worse. 

So the plan for this time was to remove the internal metal plate and screws and to stabilize the femur fracture with rods and a metal plate outside the skin. The surgeons made an 8 inch incision that went down her entire upper quad. This seemed completely unnecessary and I felt so bad for the patient. She's gonna have a helluva scar in addition to lots of physical therapy to strengthen all of her quad muscles that were cut. 

We watched as they removed the old plate, reset the fracture, and inserted long metal rods into her bone that actually stuck out of the skin. In order to stabilize the metal rods, they added an outer metal plate and plaster so it won't move. The patient will be on bed rest until the fracture heals and then she will have to go under yet another surgery to remove these devices. Yuck!

And much later that same day... Picarones

Of course Davíd and Aniña introduced us to these small bites of heaven within the first week of being here. Picarones are Peruvian donuts and it just so happens one of the best places to get picarones is right by our house! The restaurant is named Picarones: Parque Tupac. 

After dinner Cassie, Erin, Lauren, and I went with David and Aniña to get some dessert. We ordered 3 plates of picarones for 6 people (which seemed like too much) but David and Aniña were right since we ate every last one. The picarones taste more like funnel cake than donuts except they have Anis seeds in them which gives them a hint of licorice. We sat, ate, and talked in broken Spanglish for almost 2 hours! It was so much fun to get to know our host parents a little better since they are always busy running around.

For more of Susan's blog, visit

Posted on July 17, 2014 and filed under FIMRC Stories, Project Peru, Peru, SIHF.