Written on 07 August 2011
Greetings, blog fans! Our second week in Rosebud has officially come to an end, and thus, I find it fitting to give you all a brief update on our adventures in the Wild
West. The past week at the hospital was great – I really enjoy the people I’m working with, and I love the freedom that I have to make clinical recommendations and fully use my knowledge. It’s been a very rewarding experience, thus far.
I spent all day Friday in the operating room to observe surgeries. I’ll spare the gory details, but I must admit, it was a very interesting way to spend the day. The first surgery I watched was a Caesarian section. I was amazed at how quickly a C-section is performed. Within ten minutes of the first incision, a beautiful baby girl entered the world! It was a very surreal experience. The second surgery was an extensive hysterectomy and bladder lift. As I said, I’ll just go ahead and spare you those details. I do have a whole newfound respect for women that have undergone a vaginal hysterectomy…
Friday night was spent here at “Motel 6.” Having eaten enough bologna and cheese sandwiches to turn into a loaf of processed meat, I decided that I wanted a good home-cooked meal. So, I fried up a mess of chicken, Ryan fixed the sides, and Megan basked in the glory of what was her first homemade southern fried chicken! That was the pinnacle of our evening. We rounded out the night watching Shark Week, playing a few adult beverage games, and heading to bed fairly early. We certainly know how to live life on the edge here on the “res!”
Saturday was a very fun-filled day. We woke up early, and went on a daytrip to Rapid City (about 3 hours west of here). One of the little unofficial traditions that Ryan, our friends, and I have developed is eating at a locally owned microbrewery wherever we travel. While we were driving west on I-90, we saw a sign for the Firehouse Brewing Co. in downtown Rapid; so naturally, we had to make our lunch stop there. Downtown Rapid City was very cool – it reminded me a lot of the riverfront area in Paducah, KY. After chowing down on a bison burger (I’ve grown to really like bison meat!), we headed south to Keystone to see Mount Rushmore. Even though I’d been there before, Mount Rushmore still strikes me as one of the most beautiful places in the world, and by far uniquely “American.” After a short hike around the base of the Mount, we departed for a drive through the Black Hills. We drove past the Crazy Horse Mountain and through Custer State Park.
We arrived back in Rosebud around 7:00 that evening, and immediately left for a little Rosebud shenanigans! One of the pharmacists we’ve been working with was having a cookout, so he invited us along. It was really fun to really get to know the people we’ve been working with and their spouses. It is evident that one must develop a certain sense of gallows humor to live here for a prolonged period of time. One of the pharmacist’s wife sat down with us, and quickly struck up a very lively conversation. As it turns out, she grew up in Illinois, too, so we quickly bonded. We were introduced to many different facets of reservation life, including wandering bison, res dogs, and our favorite, the phrase “res-tastic.” My side literally hurt from laughing so hard throughout the whole night.
Today was an interesting day, because we got to experience the native culture firsthand. After church and lunch, we went out to a secluded spot in the woods to observe a Lakota Sundance ceremony. I’m unsure of all of the meanings behind a Sundance, but it is essentially to make sacrifices to the Creator. The Sundance ceremony follows very stringent guidelines, such as women must wear long skirts, and typically you must be invited to attend. The Crow Dog family held this Sundance, and it was particularly large. I don’t think too many people realizedwe were there uninvited. The dance is part of a several day ritual that involves dancing, praying, fasting, and offerings of flesh. Yes, I did say flesh. The dancers are piercedthrough the chest with either a sharpened stick or bison bone, and are tied to the Tree of Life in the center of the dance grounds. At the end of one of the rounds, the dancers run away from the tree, tearing the skin, and thus making a flesh offering. When we arrived to the dance, the flesh offerings had already been given. We still got to see a water ceremony dance, though, which was very interesting.
As we were leaving the ceremonial grounds, someone questioned our presence there, which segues into my ultimate feelings from this week – the feeling of being unwanted. As I’ve begun to grow accustomed to life on the res, I can’t help but feel the overwhelming sense of being out of place here. I’ve been through the ghettos of St. Louis, the busy streets of New York, dark alleys in Philadelphia, the hedonistic streets of New Orleans, and the African bush, and never have I ever maintained such a sense of being out of place. Twice we’ve had our picture taken by locals, patients become extremely frustrated when I don’t understand them mumbling a last name like “Never Misses a Shot,” and today, we saw a bumper sticker reading, “Wasichu: The Other White Meat.”
The perplexity of this culture reminds me of the classic novel/film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and it is perhaps ironic that I relate very strongly to the only Indian character in the story, Chief Bromden. Throughout the story, Chief Bromden, a patient in a psychiatric hospital, is thought to be dumb and deaf. At one point, though, it is learned that he has been pulling off a farce throughout the whole film/novel. The main character, Randle MacMurphy (Jack Nichelson), offers the Chief a piece of gum, to which he replies, “Thank you. Mmm…Juicy Fruit.” It is at that point that MacMurphy realizes that the Chief has the entire hospital staff hoodwinked. He was simply misunderstood by the staff. It is my hope and prayer that by the end of this rotation, the community and I have that “Juicy Fruit” moment, when we both realize that there are more ties that bind than separate. I suppose I should wrap this story up for now. Next week is bound to be much more entertaining, as Ryan and I will be traveling to Sturgis, SD, for the annual Sturgis Bike Week Rally! I’m sure I won’t stand out at all there, either! (I hope you read that with an intonation of sarcasm!)
As an addendum to what I already wrote, when I finished writing this, a double rainbow painted the sky over Rosebud. I think that's definitely a sign of things looking up!
Until next time!