Friday, March 23, 2012


I have learned a lot during my travels, some lessons more profound than others, I think this lesson is pretty profound.

On this trip we have seen a lot. We have been in functioning OR rooms, trauma rooms, wards stuffed with kids and wards that are eerily silent, seen lines of nervous young men waiting for circumcisions and lines of kids waiting to be vaccinated, seen neonatal units with impossibly small babies two or three to an incubator.

I am learning how to be professional in these circumstances. Unlike medical staff, we are not there to help the patients directly (although potentially our will work will impact them in the long-term), and it can be awkward to work our way between the beds, looking at the equipment, and trying to compartmentalize the pain or the sickness of the human next to us. I am ever curious so I am always guessing what the person is ailing from, although I am quite sure my accuracy is very low, having learned most lessons from George Clooney, news media, and my global health classes. I think it makes me feel more at ease to know (or convince myself I know) why the person is there.

Those who know me know that I have a hard time keeping a straight face, that I react quickly and visibly to my surroundings with my facial expressions (although I am getting waaaay better at this after all the travel).

At first, I was trying to keep a smile on my face as we talked with the nurses and doctors about the medical equipment, and I would flash my smile at those patients around me.

But oh man, then I started to stress out. Did I look totally goofy with a big old grin? (Yes.) How much grin was too much grin? (If you have to ask, its too much.)  Was a smile even appropriate? (Probably not) Would I want some goofy  person who could do nothing for me as I sat on a hospital bed smiling at me? (Maybe) How long do I smile for? (That's too long). What is the difference between a smile and a grin anyway? (Who knows)

So I took a lesson from Tyra and decided on the smeyes - smiling with your eyes. I am channeling all those lessons from America's Next Top Model, keeping a smile in my eyes (wait, what?), and trying to remain professional with the rest of my face.

I think it is working. I will be sticking with the smeyes.

Not quite smeyesing - all dressed up to go into an OR

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