The One Lost in Translation

I can almost guarantee you this situation is happening in some hospital, somewhere, with some patient: the medical team walks in, asks a few simple questions in English, and gets the correct answers. The team then proceeds to explain the entire treatment plan in English, assuming that if the patient can respond to basic questions, they must have a grasp of the entire language.

My experiences this week have made me acutely aware of how dangerous this situation can actually be. When speaking to Guatemalans, I can demonstrate a reasonable grasp of Spanish, and often receive responses that are far more complex than I can fully understand. Sometimes, I just get the general gist of things. Other times, I make incorrect assumptions and miss the point altogether. Or worse, I may not have even the slightest idea what was said, but don’t feel comfortable enough (or can’t remember the words!) to ask them to slow down. But typically, I’m only trying to buy a bus ticket or understand my host brother’s new job, so a few words lost in translation are usually not a huge deal.

But when explaining a cancer diagnosis or the risks and benefits of a surgery, losing words in translation is not an option we can afford. I have no doubt there are patients for whom English is a struggle, but they may be too embarrassed or respectful to interrupt to remind us that they can only handle the basics. No wonder patients have difficulty complying with treatments, or even articulating what exactly their medical problems are.

Though I came to Guatemala to learn Spanish via cultural immersion, this trip is also a firsthand experience confirming the importance of using interpreters, avoiding assumptions, and checking to ensure patients are understanding their providers, regardless of language.


The One Where I Worked Out in Heels

Broken record alert!

For probably at least the third time, possibly more, I’m going to talk about Blogilates. Because I’m obsessed and I want to share my excitement with you all. Because for once, I’m actually motivated to get fit, healthy, and strong. Because I’m finally not being a hypocrite when I encourage my patients to exercise more frequently. Because for the first time, I look forward to my workouts every day.

Yeah, you heard me. I’ve actually been excited to work out for the first time in my life, thanks to the adorably energetic Cassey Ho, Pilates instructor extraordinaire and host of the Blogilates workout videos.

Though let’s be serious: it’s absolutely a love-hate relationship. Countless dialogues progress as such:

Cassey: Just a few more!


Cassey: You should start to feel your thighs burning!

Me: What? Start? Are you serious?

Cassey: Get LOWER!

Cassey’s put me through five minutes straight of lunges, countless burpees, endless squats, and crunch after crunch after crunch. And just when I thought she’d put me through it all, she told me it was time to work out in these:



I know. I thought she was crazy, too. And I was terrified my roommates would come home to discover my mismatched gym-shorts/black pumps combo and I’d never live it down.

But I tossed my Vibrams to the side and donned my black pumps, terrified of the workout to come.

But thankfully (and I’d imagine purposefully)… there’s NO jumping.

So I panted through my plie squats.

plie squats

All workout images from the Blogilates website; click for full workout printable!

And I wobbled through my T squats.

T Squat

And I sweated through my lunges.Lunges

And I actually survived without any broken ankles or being busted in my ridiculous outfit by my roommates. The soreness the next day was far above that of my typical leg workout, so hopefully it’s actually working.  Plus, let’s be serious. It’s kind of fun to look in the mirror as you do the moves and imagine how awesome your legs are going to look in those heels once you’re done.

So seriously, if you find yourself wishing you could get into better shape but lacking the motivation, give Blogilates a shot. The best part is there’s dozens of videos of varying lengths, so even on days when you’re pressed for time, you can squeeze in a really effective 10 min work out. You can start crazy with the stiletto workout or start slow with some of the beginner’s videos.  But either way…



Rx: One Boost of Confidence

“Mr. Smith, I know you’ve seen a lot of doctors in the past year. I was wondering if you had any advice on how I can be a good doctor for patients like you.”

“Honestly? Just keep doing what you’re doing. You’re already there.”


So grateful for interactions with the Mr. Smiths of the world: those patients who give more to you than you could possibly give to them.

Success is Like a Leaky Faucet

As a medical student, I am constantly learning… from books, from preceptors, from other students. But by far the best lessons are those from my patients themselves:

Mr. Farmer: Getting old… it’s not fun.

Me: Everyone in this place tells me not to get old.

Mr. F: Honey, you can try, but I don’t think it’s going to work. All you can do is NEVER smoke, only drink a little, work hard, and be happy.

Me: Got it. Good advice.

Mr. F: OH! And never go to bed mad. It’s like building a wall between you and Mr. Right. Nobody likes walls in bed.

Me: I’ll keep that in mind.

Mr. F: AND remember that success takes time. If you have a leaky faucet and it’s juuuuuust a drip, if you put a cup underneath it, it’ll fill eventually. Always remember the leaky faucet.

Drip, drip, drip.


Ms. Smith: Here’s my advice for you, honey. Do good now, and stay the hell away from pizza!

Apparently, pizza is bad.