Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Guest Post: Medical Tourism

    I'm happy to introduce everyone to a friend of mine.  L and I have been traveling together for some time. Since he actually got the surgery in Mexico...I thought it would be cool if he could write a little blurb and tell everyone about it.

Pres and I are off to San Fran this weekend!! I've never been there and I'm super excited :) 

But enough about me...Happy (almost) weekend and Happy Easter!!

Good Morrow fine Sirs and faire Maidens!! I am Lancelot~ the wandering Knight. Yay, I hath oft traveled about this magnificent globe and hath had many a wondrous excursion.  Mine most recent adventures hath taken me to the great land of Mexico!!  


Whilst in this marvelous place, I had the chance to partake in many a grand labor.

Alongside my faire maiden, I took work as a scribe to generate protocols for the new laboratory.

Twas many a cell to count in yon microscope

Methinks it was mine great privilege to undergo a stem cell transplant using mine own bone marrow.

Twas a most splendid experience. Quite quick, if i may be so bold to say. Verily, twas naught but a dream I had, which from upon waking I was a most renewed gentlemen.

On the morrow I received a most righteous clean bill of health.

All clear in there good Sir!!

Mine eyes were able to withstand this witchcraft

Without mine lance nor mine steed, I made due with the testing of mine strength through thine modern agencies. 

I carried these field stones over my head

1000 of these tests of the Earth

The accomplished Doctors and pleasing staff made this a most superb experience, that I wouldst recommend to all the noblemen(women) of the Land. 

Anon, we headeth to the tavern for a pint of ale, yet there was no ale to be had...just many a cull of a clear liquid by the name of tequila. This tequila was sipped alongside a spicy drink of tomatoes. I hath but a dram. 

Disclaimer: Mine fine physicians do not recommend tequila post op

Fare thee well, until we doth meet again!!

Monday, March 25, 2013


Traveling opens your eyes. It removes prejudices; even prejudices that you didn't know you had. All we hear about Mexico is how very unsafe it they are cutting people's heads off 'down there' drug cartels are running the poor it is, etc etc. I'm not saying that NONE of this is true. Mexico is certainly a country not without problems...but which country doesn't have problems?

I had only been to Acapulco back when I was a sophomore in college on spring break. Oh my gosh...that was 13 years ago. I'm old!! But, I digress...I had only been to Mexico the once. I remember it being a beautiful and welcoming country and I was pleased to find that this was once again what I took away from my trip.

Erin, Rafael (my boss) and I took an Interjet flight out of Orange County to Guadalajara. It was a quick 3 hour flight (funny how this becomes relative when you move across the country).  The most amusing thing from our flight was the fact that people were just up and moving around during both the take off and the landing. It was all very blase. I never even had to turn off my kindle. Awesome. AND...the plane didn't crash ;)

Mostly Guadalajara looks like the dirtier parts of LA. Haha. Well, not all of it...but it really did resemble LA. Apparently there is a lot of finance in this city and it shows in the beautiful and modern architecture. Restaurants were overflowing with patrons late into the nights...and in the middle of the week. Mexicans have such a welcoming and festive culture. Whenever I travel, I just think to myself, "We Americans are really doing it wrong".  

We arrived at our beautiful hotel to a GIANT steak dinner with our Mexican counterparts. Vegan Fail!! I can't kid anyone...I've managed to stay vegetarian, but have failed miserably at my Lent vow to be vegan :-/ 

Estoy cansada

I think as a sustainable lifestyle...I'm more of a sometimes vegan/most of the time vegetarian/occasionally flexitarian (just read this word and love it).  So, I said, "when in Mexico..." and tried some steak. It was quite tasty, but I did feel kind of gross after eating it. I was kind of glad that I didn't LOVE it. We had salad and homemade tortillas and it was ah-mazing. 

The first day we spent 13 hours working at the hospital. We observed one surgery and in the second surgery...I got to assist the surgeon by handing off syringes to him, which I then emptied into the collection bag. I was SO nervous. It's a well known fact that I have shaky hands. It's sort of funny that I can even do my job at all, let alone do it well. I was extra nervous having so many people watching me!! At one point I was supposed to aim the needle at a bottle of heparin the nurse was holding and draw out some of the fluid. There was NO way I was going to hit that bulls eye with my trembling hands. The nurse had a look of pure fear on her face...and rightfully so, I probably would have stabbed her!! Thankfully, the Dr. did it for me. The whole thing was really cool and I was grateful for the chance to learn something new. 

Dr. Kelly for a day

The Dr. uses a T shaped device to drill (corkscrew style) into the bone of the patient's lower back (in the iliac crest). From there, the Dr will draw out bone marrow with a syringe. We usually collect around 150mls per side. It only takes around 20 minutes and is supposed to be pretty pain free. Patients have some soreness afterwards, but they are sedated for the procedure. 

I handed off syringes with the Dr. and injected the bone marrow into the collection bag. When the surgery was finished...I took the bone marrow to the lab and isolated the mononuclear cells, which were then injected back into each of the patients. We did a woman's hip and a man's pancreas (he is diabetic). 

After a long day of setting up the lab, processing cells, watching more surgeries and lots of no habloing spanish...we finally went out to dinner around 9pm.  

We went to Santo Coyote, which was like an authentic sort of rainforest cafe. :) The food was delicious and the ambiance was amazing. There were tons of candles and mariachi players and a waterfall. Very cool.



ALL day Thursday was spent writing protocols in a small room. We had street burritos for lunch (and I didn't get sick!! wahoo!!) and another delicious dinner at a place called "Tequila", which featured 500 varieties of tequila. There was only one type that still had the worm!!

Writing, writing, writing


Every table gets a purse tree. Brilliant!!

Salsa made with cactus!! Yum!!

Buenos Noches Mexico

I'm excited about our new company in Mexico and the good work we are doing. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013


I am terrible at this blog thing!! For me, the entire point of a blog is to get in the habit of regular updates for when Pres and I go traveling :) So far...don't expect many updates while we are away. Kidding!! I'll try harder. 3 of my 5 readers have put complaints in the complaint box. haha. 

I was in Mexico all last week. I went to Guadalajara for work. My company is super small, yet we dabble in different International arenas. This dabbling is mostly attributed to the fact that we are pretty awesome at what we do...and not many people know how to do it. What we do is isolate mononuclear cells from bone marrow. Really, this is only a small part of what my company does as a whole, but it's an important part. I do this isolation so much that I could do it in my sleep ;) We have perfected the protocol and technique. We can do it quickly and it's a win/win for all involved. We've been working with hospitals in Central and South America...which are so ahead of our hospitals in America that it's sad. I feel like America has so much red tape as far as these procedures go...and it's just a loss for us and our country.  

We transplanted a woman in Mexico in lieu of her having a hip surgery. This woman is Mexican and her insurance actually paid for this procedure. How awesome is that?? Frankly, the bone marrow extraction and re injection is much less invasive than a hip replacement would be...and it should be as effective. I'll be interested to hear how she is doing. We also did a PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) injection for her...which stimulates healing of bone and soft tissue. This will help her feel better too. 

Usually it is just my boss and I that go on these trips, but this time my coworker Erin came. It was just SO nice to a) have another woman along with me b) have someone else that speaks NO Spanish.  I spend so much time in these countries sitting around and wishing I could understand what people were saying. My boss speaks fluent often I'm just sitting quietly while he talks...or just blindly following him wherever he's walking with no idea, myself, of our destination. Haha.

 It was just nice to have Erin to talk to and relate to and laugh with at all the funny situations. Like one day...we all got in the elevator...the 4 men said something in Spanish and then my boss and one of the doctors got off the elevator, so I followed...but Erin was motioned to stay behind. We had NO idea where we were going or what we were doing or if we'd ever see each other again. hehe!! Of course, I trust my I just go along, but it's all just so amusing. As it turns out...we just took different cars to the same destination. 

I REALLY need to learn Spanish. The four years of it that I took in school are not helping me very much. I say this all the time...but this is the year I have to make it happen. I need the rosetta stone or something.

So, that's part of where I've been. I've also had someone visiting every single weekend or week for the last 5 weeks!! So, that definitely has kept me busy :) 

But, this is my vow to do better!! I swear it. Everyone deserves to be tuned in to my not that interesting life ;) 

More on Mexico tomorrow!! 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Yes, exactly

I saw this quote on a tumblr I follow today. It just really speaks to me. We all make excuses to hold us back from the things we want to do...and I'm tired of my excuses!! Traveling is something I've felt passionate about since my first trip to Europe. I think there is nothing else to open your eyes and make you,just,  feel SO alive!! Preston and I are planning to quit it all and go traveling after we get married. Is it terrifying?? Yes!! Are we going to do it?? Definitely!! I can't wait to be married to him and to start our lives together by exploring the globe!!

“Did you know, you can quit your job, you can leave university? You aren’t legally required to have a degree, it’s a social pressure and expectation, not the law, and no one is holding a gun to your head. You can sell your house, you can give up your apartment, you can even sell your vehicle, and your things that are mostly unnecessary. You can see the world on a minimum wage salary, despite the persisting myth, you do not need a high paying job. You can leave your friends (if they’re true friends they’ll forgive you, and you’ll still be friends) and make new ones on the road. You can leave your family. You can depart from your hometown, your country, your culture, and everything you know. You can sacrifice. You can give up your $5.00 a cup morning coffee, you can give up air conditioning, frequent consumption of new products. You can give up eating out at restaurants and prepare affordable meals at home, and eat the leftovers too, instead of throwing them away. You can give up cable TV, Internet even. This list is endless. You can sacrifice climbing up in the hierarchy of careers. You can buck tradition and others’ expectations of you. You can triumph over your fears, by conquering your mind. You can take risks. And most of all, you can travel. You just don’t want it enough. You want a degree or a well-paying job or to stay in your comfort zone more. This is fine, if it’s what your heart desires most, but please don’t envy me and tell me you can’t travel. You’re not in a famine, in a desert, in a third world country, with five malnourished children to feed. You probably live in a first world country. You have a roof over your head, and food on your plate. You probably own luxuries like a cellphone and a computer. You can afford the $3.00 a night guest houses of India, the $0.10 fresh baked breakfasts of Morocco, because if you can afford to live in a first world country, you can certainly afford to travel in third world countries, you can probably even afford to travel in a first world country. So please say to me, “I want to travel, but other things are more important to me and I’m putting them first”, not, “I’m dying to travel, but I can’t”, because I have yet to have someone say they can’t, who truly can’t. You can, however, only live once, and for me, the enrichment of the soul that comes from seeing the world is worth more than a degree that could bring me in a bigger paycheck, or material wealth, or pleasing society. Of course, you must choose for yourself, follow your heart’s truest desires, but know that you can travel, you’re only making excuses for why you can’t. And if it makes any difference, I have never met anyone who has quit their job, left school, given up their life at home, to see the world, and regretted it. None. Only people who have grown old and regretted never traveling, who have regretted focusing too much on money and superficial success, who have realized too late that there is so much more to living than this.”

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Chelsea's Light

I forgot my sunglasses!!

Pres and I traveled to San Diego this weekend to participate in Chelsea's Run with Tim (Preston's best friend) and Lindsey (Tim's fiancee).  Chelsea's Run is a 5K fundraiser to benefit the Chelsea's Light Foundation and to remember Chelsea King.

Lindsey's family are personal friends of the Kings.  In February 2010, their 17 year old daughter Chelsea went for a run in their San Diego community park and was never seen again.  Days later, Chelsea's body was found in a shallow grave not far from the trail where she had been running. Chelsea had been brutally raped and murdered by a known sex offender.

Chelsea's tale is haunting and heartbreaking, but her family and friends have taken the light that was this wonderful young woman and used it to recognize the joy that still remains in life, to give scholarships to other promising young adults and to pass Chelsea's Law.  Chelsea's Law increases the punishments and parole limits for sexual offenders against children in California.

This foundation does amazing work.  The Kings are truly an inspiration to have built something so wonderful out of something so horrific.

It was a beautiful Saturday in San Diego with cloudless skies and temps in the 80s. The four of us walked the 5K (I'm NO runner) and then hit Pacific Beach.

Pres and I coming up on the finish :D

Lindsey and I took some time to stop by another fund raiser (we are so philanthropic;)) which had donated wedding dresses on sale to benefit breast cancer.  Linds and I tried both tried on some dresses. We had a lot of fun and the price was right, but neither of us found THE dress. I'm hoping that I can find a reasonably priced dress that just has the 'right' feel.

It was a wonderful afternoon and we got a lot of squeals when we explained that we were engaged to best friends. Lindsey and I just get along fabulously, which is lucky, since I'm sure we will be very involved in one another's lives. Preston and Timmy are closer than brothers. :)

We are nerds.

The four of us spent the rest of the day lounging in beach bars and laying in the sun. Preston and I drove back to the LBC completely exhausted, but it was well worth it.

For more information on Chelsea's Light, please visit: