A window inside life at Augustana College

…its getting hotter!

So apparently you’ve all been hearing about our lovely weather in Houston this week! I’m not gonna lie, its been ridiculously hot and humid, but that hasn’t stopped us from having tons of fun!

“Family Dinners” continue to be a highlight of this trip for me. For those of you who don’t recall, we 10 Augie students on the trip have made a tradition of cooking for each other most nights of the week- we paired off and each pair takes a night. So far the food has been wonderful and is allowing us to eat well and save money at the same time! During dinner we go around the circle and share our “highs and lows” of the day with each other, which allows us to catch up on each others’ days–both the good and bad. It is obvious that the students from other schools in our dorm are jealous of how close our group is. And how good our dinners are!

The most exciting news this week is that I get to be a volunteer at Texas Childrens’ Hospital! Most of the Augie girls decided to get trained to volunteer in the Progressive Care Unit at Texas Childrens’ a few hours a week. The PCU is a unit that is kind of mid-way between the regular floors and the intensive care unit of the hospital. It is for kids who still need a lot of supervision, but have “graduated” from the NICU or ICU. Our job involves doing crafts, readings stories, playing with the kids, and holding babies (!!!!!), which should be a TON of fun! The only thing I’m a little nervous about is that a lot of these kids are still pretty sick and I will have to get used to procedures for kids in isolation (wearing gloves, gown, and mask when in the room), learning how to hold babies attached to lots of tubes and monitors, working with kids who have a tracheostomy, etc. There are no healthy babies at Texas Childrens’. They’re all there because they need extra care. This really hit home with me when during our training we were told about the “aching heart” symbol that is put on patient’s doors when they are close to death. Children are frequently put in the PCU for “palliative care” when no cure can be found and they are just trying to keep the child as comfortable as possible for the short time they have left. Although we will not be working with these patients, it is hard not to think about them. I am glad that we can make the hospital stay a little brighter for some of the other kids who are in this hospital day in and day out, and give them a chance to just be kids and have fun for a little while.

Work is going pretty well so far. Every day I am getting more and more responsibilities, which I am really enjoying. This is the first job I’ve had where I often have all day with nothing scheduled, and I have to prioritize which projects I’m going to work on and manage my time in order to get things done when my mentor and research assistant need them done. In addition to office work, I sometimes get to help with things with patients for our research studies, which I really enjoy. I am learning new things every day about cancer, about research, about working in a hospital, working in an office, and about just people in general. It is amazing to me how strong these patients and their families are through some of the worst cases of cancer in the country. In addition to my work at MD Anderson, I have been able to get in contact with some speech pathologists at some of the other hospitals in the Texas Medical Center and hopefully will get to do some observations, which I am REALLY looking forward to!

Last weekend was pretty chill except a little shopping and hanging out with people in the dorm, so we are trying to plan a fun activity for the coming weekend. Trying to get 10 people to agree on something is always a challenge, but I’m sure we’ll figure something out.

Thanks for reading!

Love from Houston,
Katrina

p.s. If anyone from the Communications and Marketing office is reading this–Send us the Augustana “A”!!!!

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