Thursday, May 14, 2009

Surgical Trip

Wow, where to start? I probably should have started blogging a little earlier this week as I am somewhat out of practice with blog-writing! We (Heidi and some friends from work) have been down here in Guatemala operating at the Hospital Buen Samaritano in Chichicastenango all week. We are hoping that this is the first of our quarterly trips down here, and are praising God today towards the end of the trip that everything has gone well!

We were not sure what to expect-- how many patients, how our transportation would be arranged, how much help we would have, whether we would spend the whole time at the hospital, etc..-- when we got here, but we did know that God already knew and that was enough! He has been faithful-- as always-- in providing for His people here in Guatemala. This week, specifically, He also provided three women who had never done missions in Guatemala with a wonderful experience. We are praising God that everyone is already talking about when they can come back!

Our first picture is of our team-- We are in front of the fire at the Hotel Casa del Rey here in Chichi, and from left to right we are:

Erin Hartwell, a fourth year resident at ECU in OB/Gyn, who Heidi has enjoyed working with since September. She had the chance to not only do some great gynecologic surgeries, but also some general cases with Dr. Hoak that she would never get the chance to see and do in the U.S. Heidi is sitting beside her, of course.

Pat Peabody is a CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) who tirelessly ran anesthesia for us this week. Heidi has also had the great honor of working with her at Pitt County Memorial Hospital since September. It took a little less than a week of working with her before Heidi was hitting her up to join us on a Guatemalan trip, and she has held fast to her promise to do so!

Patty Palmer is a circulating nurse in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who actually arranged to come down here through Sharon and John Harvey at ASELSI. We quickly snagged her up and adopted her on to our team, and she was a true God-send all week! She helped with everything from prepping and transporting patients to getting hair out of Heidi's eyes during an operative case, and even found time to do some classes for the nurses there at the hospital about how to use the new autoclave for sterilizing instruments properly. She is also to thank for many of the great pictures that we have from the week.

The next picture we just had to include for our old regular readers... Some of you might just recognize the lady in the sharp-looking nurses' uniform as Cecilia ("Ceci"), our translator from ASELSI! When we found out over a year ago that she was interested in putting herself through Nursing School, we offered her an informal "scholarship" to do so. She is now just about a month away from her degree (equivalent, basically, to an LPN in the U.S.) We are so proud of her! She is truly a success story out of the ASELSI mission... a single Mayan mother with a professional degree? What an unheard-of and wonderful bit of news!

Now on to the patients, finally! What an interesting week... that has left us full of prayer requests to post! The first picture here is of Heidi and Erin posing with the uterus they took out Tuesday night. The normal uterus should be less than the size of a fist, just for a frame of reference... This lady should be feeling much better from here on out.

And here is our BIGgest prayer request from the week. The picture below is of Heidi, Erin, and Tom Hoak operating on our patient Petrona. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer by Tom recently, and we attempted to do a curative surgery on her this week. We knew that none of us is truly qualified to do this kind of radical surgery, but we also knew that this lady would NOT get any help from anyone here otherwise. Dr. Hoak has enough experience with the Guatemalan medical system now to know that there was essentially no chance of her getting a safe surgery here-- if anyone would even operate at all. The other option-- radiation-- is something she will not be able to afford, most likely. She refused to even go to The City to explore that option, so we all spent lots of time praying over her and agreed that surgery with us was the best option. God provided a peace with this decision, and we proceded with as much love and patience and diligence as we could.

Seven hours in to the surgery, however, we eventually encountered a stumbling block that we could not overcome. (For the medical folks, her left ureter was completely encased in tumor, which we did NOT expect from our clinical exam. This makes her an inoperable Stage IIIb cervical cancer) We could not safely remove the tumor, and had to terminate the surgery. Her only option now is to go to Guatemala City and try to get radiation, which she is unlikely to do. So the other option is praying for a miracle, which we invite you all to join us in. Either way, we hope that she felt the love of Christ that we tried to show her with our efforts.

The last picture is of a little 3-year old boy that a team from ASELSI actually brought in to the Emergency Room after finding him on a home visit that they made. About 10 days ago, he stuck both hands in to some boiling liquid and severely burned them as you can see. The family had sought no medical care to date, and it is really quite lucky that he has not become severely infected. Tom, Pat, and Erin took him to the operating room and cleaned his wounds under anesthesia. Tomorrow they will do a skin graft to try to save some function of the right hand. ASELSI will follow up with physical therapy, and the whole thing will hopefully be a wonderful testimony of how God can really work in people's lives when we all work together for His good!

Please pray for the rapid recovery of Hugo Emmanuel. He will be hospitalized for a while here, but hopefully will continue to do well.

Today Erin and Heidi were supposed to go out to the Zona Reina with the Fickers, but that trip was cancelled due to some forgetfulness on the part of the community leaders where we were supposed to go! Bummer, but at least it gives Erin something to look forward to when she comes back!

Tomorrow Heidi will get up to Quiche where Duane has generously offered to come pick her up to spend the day and night with the Fickers. It is hard to imagine a trip to Guatemala without seeing them, but the logistics proved to be a little challenging this time with no vehicle. We will all meet up back at the airport Saturday morning (Thanks, Tom and Jana, for offering a ride to Erin and Pat!) and fly out...

We have missed our friends and families this week, but are truly blessed to be a part of God's continuing work here in Guatemala. May He continue to bless you all and all of his people here in Guate!