2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 13,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

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First week completed

We have finished the first week of our Saudi adventure.  It has been an interesting and educational week.  Sam and I arrived in the late afternoon on Friday.  We were warmly welcomed by the April team and spent a fun evening eating authentic food.  The team oriented us to the hospital and compound prior to their departure…we are fortunate to have Dr. Aaron staying here 2 more weeks.  It is nice to have a veteran to show us the ropes.

The first day Sam and I met with staff to get input on their educational needs.  It was wonderful to see they have policy and procedures very simialar to ours.  The main difference between our units is their equipment and supplies.  Most of the staff would be able to work in our unit with a little orientation.  In our conversations, the staff was very interested in learning what we do differently at home.  We have had a good start to our education with several lectures and one-on-one instructions.

Yesterday Sabina arrived from Arizonia, today she her first day with orientation to the unit.  We are beginning to put together our education plan for the remainder of our stay.

We are looking forward to the week end….catching up on some rest and seeing some of the local culture.

Until next time..

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May team is here!

We can and can’t believe a month has passed. We have experienced so many highs and so many lows on this trip. It was definitely an experience of a lifetime. We are ready to pass the baton onto the May team.Alana & Sam arrived two days ago and the rest of the team will arrive in the next two weeks.

Today was full of goodbyes…those are never fun. We have met such wonderful people here and have formed friendships that we never thought we would. We will miss all of you at KSMC and Al-Yamamah. Thank you for all your generosity and hospitality that you have shown to us.

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Last Weekend in Saudi… (For most of us)…

This weekend marks the final weekend in Saudi Arabia for Andrea, Amber, Sandy and myself, (Aaron is just starting his second full week here).

We’ve all been awaiting the weekend with mixed emotions.  We go from anxiously looking forward to going home, to saddened to be leaving the many wonderful friends we’ve made over the past four weeks.  Some of the best parts of this trip have been made just by getting to know the nurses, doctors and other health care staff at both Al Yamamah and King Saud Medical City. Everyone has been so warm and welcoming to us; they’ve definitely made the trip one that we’ll never forget and I’m certain that we’ll carry their memories with us as we return to our own NICU.

Wednesday was our last full day at Al Yamamah, and the nurses gave us a very special going away gift…  One that we plan to bring back and hang in our breakroom.  As we finished our teaching at the end of the day;  Amber and Aaron got word that the NICU team was planning for transport to get a Meconium Aspiration baby at the Military Air Base.  This was Amber’s second transport in Saudi and Aaron’s first.  Thankfully, the baby was doing fairly well, and they made it back to Al Yamamah after a few glitches with the transporters prior to departure.

Our Wednesday evening was pretty low key… Aaron and I played pool, Amber worked out and Andrea and Sandy skyped with their families and read…  Then we all finished watching Homeland while snacking on cheese, crackers, hummus, Naan, and grapes.

Today, was another great day. Nencia and Flerida (Infection Control Nurses from King Saud) took us on a fabulous adventure to the Red Sand Desert and Hidden Valley (apart of the Arabian Desert), just outside of Riyadh.  But before this, we stopped at King Saud and delivered a few toy trucks to Aboudi and say our final goodbyes to everyone there.

Departing from King Saud, we followed Nencia and Flerida to the Red Sand Desert.  It was a short 45 minutes from Riyadh, and what a difference that time makes.  We were taken by the natural beauty of the sand dunes and plateaus of this region.  On our first stop we all took turns riding 4-Wheelers across the dunes… An exhilarating experience for all, and even though Amber’s flipped over, she managed to land a fantastic dismount… Unscathed!

From here, we head out to Hidden Valley for a picnic.  This was ten minutes from the Red Sand dunes, and what a difference in the scenery.  Where the dunes seemed to go on for miles, Hidden Valley was a rocky, mountainous-like terrain.  We climbed (in our flip flops), to a secluded place in which Nencia, Flerida and their husbands have found to escape the city life in Riyadh.  We dined on spring rolls and pancit, amongst the rocks under a tree.  It was a fantastic getaway; and hard to believe that we were able to escape the hustle and bustle of Riyadh and experience such a peaceful place.  We were overwhelmed by their kindness in sharing this afternoon with us.  It was truly a memorable experience for everyone.

Upon return to our house in Rawda, we all napped before heading out to dinner – at Applebee’s, (yes… another trip to an American Restaurant).  And another trip to HyperPanda and the mall for some final shopping.  We all laughed over our memories of the past week and month together and were all in accord that we would never forget our time together, and are thankful that we can share these memories with one another.

Tomorrow, Alana and Sam will be joining the group; and we are looking forward to passing the torch on to them.  We’re certain that they’ll do an excellent job and are happy to share our experiences with them.

We leave you with some of our pictures from today’s trip to the desert…

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Home Stretch

The weekend was too short but this is our last week of work. On Saturday (their Monday here) Jen and I went back to KSMC to finish some business. We did some more teaching on head to toe assessments as well edited some policies and procedures for them. It was so nice to see everyone again…we feel so comfortable there.

At Al-Yamamah we have been teaching S.T.A.B.L.E., going on rounds, and doing a lot of one-on-one education with the staff. Everyone is very eager to be taught and actually ask when and where they can be educated. The challenges are still the same. Even we are getting frustrated as there are no supplies available to them so they have to work with the limited supplies they have (such as one shared portable suction for one room, one resuscitation bag for one room, etc.)

Dr. Latifa brought us to a “souq” which is a place with small shops where you can barter. She is a very good bargainer and we came away with a slew of things. Limited pictures though, as pictures here are not allowed.

We have been getting Dr. Aaron acquainted with the culture here. We try not to leave him alone in places such as shopping malls as single men aren’t allowed to hang out there because they might “gawk” at women. Families only! He also experienced first-hand what it’s like to be asked to leave a coffee shop because it is “men only” (they have really good coffee so that’s why we go there for take out). We also seem to go everywhere right at prayer time so we are always waiting either to get in or out of a store. We have learned and today we literally ran out of a store so that we wouldn’t get stuck in it.

Today after work we visited Panorama Mall (again we visited during prayer time so we had to wait 30 minutes for anything to open) and the SkyBridge at Kingdom Tower. It is the bridge that goes across the “u” shape of the tower.  Unfortunately it was really hazy and there wasn’t very good visibility. It’s hard to believe that we have less than a week left here. We are ready to go home!

Happy Birthday Dear Jane!

Coffee at our favorite coffee place "La Caverna"

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Rawda exit 12 weekend

Today was Friday the offical day of rest for all.  We started our day with a sandstorm, which we learned is called a haboob.  The day is sunny but the sand creates a haze, we inhale sand when we breathe the air.  This morning we all rested and had a team building experience with a movie.  Nothing is open here until prayer is finished about 4pm.  Our driver picked us up and we all enjoyed our favorite coffee on Talia Street.  We all crave food from home.  Here in Saudi we have many American resturants.  We found Fuddruckers and all order burgers and fries.  Tomorrow we start teaching S.T.A.B.L.E  and supporting our new hospital staff.  Miss you all Sandy

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24 hours since landing in Riyadh after nearly 16 hours of airtime with a brief 6 hour layover in Paris has been eventful and eye opening. Even though it’s the weekend today on Thursday, we all got up and went to Al Yamamah Hospital to get oriented and settled into our new work surroundings.  The hospital is an old hotel that has been converted to a healthcare facility. The layout is very hotel-esque with semi-private rooms with 1-6 babies in each “room” depending on acuity. Though this may sound inconvenient, it serves them well to have some isolation between babies. We met Dr. Yousef who is extremely friendly, kind and wise beyond his years. It was very clear from the beginning that the medical staff knows how to take care of babies with the best of them, but are limited by the available resources.  I was impressed by the nurses (they are called “sisters” here) and everyone wants to serve their babies in the best way possible.

After leaving Al Yamamah we all went out with our coordinator Randi to an amazing lunch at a Lebanese restaurant on Talia St. (the Las Vegas Boulevard or Rodeo Drive of Riyadh). Honestly the best hummus and pita any of us had ever eaten. We also went to a grocery store where I was busy taking photos of Arabic food and signs until I was kindly reminded by a gentleman who come running up to me shaking his finger saying “no make pictures”. Fear of being arrested quickly put my iPhone away (fake texting was not so fake after all). I got some Coke Light (diet coke) in glass bottles to keep up my caffeine habit so I am happy. We didn’t make it to Hyper Panda (the super Walmart of Saudi Arabia) but I hear it’s an experience like no other from the girls who have been there. I wonder if there is a peopleofhyperpanda.com?

The group also got to go shopping with Dr. Latifa at the Souk, a collection of outdoor markets by “old town Riyadh”. We all got some jewelry boxes and camel windchimes from Dr. Latifa, and the girls got tapestries.  I went back to photo taking in a more conspicuous mannger (these are posted on Facebook). The ruins are old buildings that are crumbling (literally as they are made of mud) into piles. The modern buildings of Riyadh are beautiful and show signs of a very modern and vibrant city. I am amazed at how much dust and sand is in the air and covering everything. The car is dusty, stuff in stores is dusty, my eyes feel dusty. It was 90 degrees today and sunny, but you can’t see the sun because of the blowing sand.  I am hoping the sand will help keep me from getting sunburned.

We saw our coordinator Randi off to the airport tonight meaning we are going it alone without her for the next 3 weeks. The week will start on Saturday after a day of rest tomorrow, and we are excited to get started at Al Yamahah.

NICU corridor

the bathrooms converted into handwashing stations


there is not enough wall suction hook-ups so they share one portable suction per room

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