Adventures at sea

During the 28 days between April 13, 2011 and May 11, 2011 I had the most amazing opportunity to serve aboard the U.S.N.S. Comfort. I was selected as a volunteer with L.D.S. Charities and worked in the post anesthesia care unit aboard the ship while docked in the countries of Jamaica and Peru.

THis is my beautiful home at sea. The U.S.N.S. Comfort is a non-commissioned sip owned by the U.S. Navy and crewed by civilian mariners. She was converted to a floating hospital in 1987 when they removed an oil tanks and droped a hospital inside. (That means no windows) She houses a complete medical facility with 12 operating rooms and a total patient capacity of 1000 beds.
THis is my group of volunteers.We are a combined "army" of dentists, hygenists, physicians, nurses, educators etc.Our combined goal was to provide hamanitarian services that meet medical, education and nutritional needs. We formed partnerships with governments and other organizations to build a network that would prepare us to help each other now and in the future. We prepared for future national emergencies.

These are members of my work family. They are active-duty  navy personnel as well as reservists and other volunteers representing other organizations.

THis is one of the patients served while in Jamaica, remember I said the hospital had 1000 patient beds? That includes the upper bunks. There are no private rooms and with few exceptions the patients were not even housed by gender. It was a very different experiance.

This is the teeny-tiny hall way that leads to my berthing area that I got to share with my 7 new best friends. We got bunked too. Sharing a room with 7 people serving in different areas of the ship meant that 8 different alarms went off in the morning.

These are some of things I ate off the ship. The first picture represents "goat" which I had in Peru, fortunately the national delicasy of guinea pig was unavailable in the area in which I served. The cactus looking thing is "huava". It had citrusy flavored segments that looked like styrofoam, had the same texture too. THe segments were divided by large dark pods that I was cautioned not to eat.

Aboard ship we prepared the PACU for patients, recovered them and transfered them other units for medical care. When on land in the MedCap sites I performed many other functions. I helped teach dental care, helping babies breathe, and assisted with clinic days.

The route from Jamaica to Peru allowed me to go through the Panama Canal. The cana is 48-50 miles in length, it contains 12 locks, 6 in each direction. It saves an 8000 mile journey around the tip of South America. Our fee for passage was $258,933.74.

When we arrived in Northern Peru we were greeted by 100's of dolphins frolicking and dancing in the water. It wasn't until we were anchored and got a good whiff of the surrounding stench that we realized they were just on their way to breakfast. Piura, Peru harvests squid, lots and lots of squid.

I even had the opportunity to fly in our resident helicopter to La Huaca. In case you are considering a trip abroad, serving aboard a navy ship let me help you prepare. Start by getting enough immunizations to glow in the dark ( typhoid, hep A, hep B, tetanus-Diptheria, MMR, Polio, Influenza, H1N1) You must have a current background check, hospital affiliation, pass the interview process and take 8 hours of survival, evasion and recovery instruction and have a family willing to miss you for the length of your mission.

But when you go? Oh, the things you will see and the things you will do. You can't reach down to help another without lifting yourself up. The experiance is PRICELESS.
For more pictures and words, check out the archived blogs from May 2011-June 2011. Thanks!