Operating on Arab time

Started yesterday out with an emergency. Mike came in to wake me up 15 minutes before we were supposed to leave for the Palestine Medical Complex. Evidently when I charged my iTouch (my alarm clock) yesterday my laptop changed the time on me. So I was rushing about, chugging coffee, wolfing down the scrambled eggs Mike made, and shaving without my MAN cream. That deserves an explanation. There is a brand name for shaving cream available here called “MAN”. Which is the awesome-ist brand name for men’s hygiene products ever.

We did end up getting there 15 minutes late (not my fault). However, “late” is a relative concept over here. Our own Harb Harb is notorious among our classmates for his perpetual tardiness to meetings and classes. He defends his behavior as a part of his culture, which I used to think was a ridiculous excuse to get 5 extra minutes of sleep. As it turns out, he was totally accurate. Nothing starts (or ends) when it is supposed to. Appointment times and meeting times are flexible and everyone is OK with that.  So we were actually 5 minutes early for the start of Morning Rounds.

Its only been three days, but I’ve already seen half a dozen extremely rare diagnoses that I’ve never seen before. Mike has been hitting the internet each night trying to educate us about some metabolic disease or genetic syndrome that we encountered during rounds. And situs inversus seems more common than strep throat around here. Our attendings like showing us chest x-rays and watching us struggle to orient ourselves to hearts that point the wrong way and left-sided livers. Luckily the residents are warming up to us and helping us stay on top of the discussions during rounds.

Tonight we met Harb’s uncle and visited a suburb of Ramallah called Ein Yabroud. We were there on invitation by one of Harb’s old school friends. The beauty of Mohammed’s home was only exceeded by the generosity of its owners. Mohammed and his sister fed us to bursting before serving the Palestinian dessert knafeh and hot drinks for the gathering. Everyone spoke English fluently and many were actually American-born. Sa’ed was there to entertain us once again, and Mohammed’s sister laughed at us when we brought our dirty dishes to the kitchen because that’s not something boys do here. I suspect it has to do with a lack of Iowan mothers (Hi Mom).

Harb is keeping our schedule packed to the brim. That does not include sleep, however. Guess I’ll sleep in the plane back.


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