Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Just Pictures Today...

Kelly with Alma and Angelica, the two scrub nurses at Buen Samaritano. (Kelly looks wet because of the cool towel she wrapped around her shoulders before scrubbing-- it gets hot in that OR when the afternoon sun comes through those windows!)

Sweet little girl that is at least as tired as we all are tonight...

Heidi and Chris operating on one of four patients today...

Kelly and Chris anxiously awaiting lunch between cases!

Kelly took a nice shot of the OR here that I stole off of her camera to post (OK, technically I stole all of these shots off of her camera to post, but I was particularly partial to this one!)

Some Pics "Scene around Chichi" and words from Dr. Chris...

Day 4-5: "Never saying "quiet" applies to Guatemala too!"

by Christina Schwering on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 7:30am
Good morning! So the old superstition we develop in residency where you NEVER should say the word "quiet" without cursing yourself to a crazy patient load apparently applies to Guatemala TOO! I had no longer finished telling Tony how clinic usually slowed down on Tuesday when the nurse walked in with our "6 or 7 patients" which were really 13-14 charts... yikes! Then our anesthesia guy, Dr Palma, walks in and informs us that he has to leave at 2:30... uh oh! Thankfully God is good and as it always does, it all worked out!

Me and Kelley and Heidi started our tough case of the day while Leisa screened patients downstairs in the clinic. I have decided that we must have had an invisible extra scrub tech (yep, thats right, Jesus is our scrub tech ;-)) because despite a non-functioning Bovie (cautery), a patient with pretty impressive leg contractures(makes for tough visualization), and miserable tissue, the surgery actually went really well! We removed the really damaged, ulcerated mucosa, took out the tiny little offending organ (:-)), and re-inverted her poor vagina without a lot of problems! It was tedious, but God was certainly with us, because I was completely prepared for a 4-5 hr case like my last trip and we were out in a little less than 3 hrs! We then got some lunch and me and Kelley started our next case while Heidi saw patients with Leisa. At his point I was pretty certain there were some extra hands fishing me stuff from that scrub table, because when Heidi showed up about an hour later, me and Kelley were almost done with the case! Went beautifully... God is SO good!

So today is a busy OR day... not sure about clinic, but worried we may need to turn away people if it is like yesterday. We will probably start a little later as Dr Hoak has an eye mass removal at 8, but after that we have a vaginal hysterectomy for bleeding, 2 abdominal hysterectomies for big goomba uteri (aka lots of fibroids ;-)), and an open ovarian cystectomy for a 10cm complex cyst (hoping for a dermoid so I can gross out my hubby with some teeth and hair *lol*).

For all my prayer warriors... my 2nd case from yesterday DOESN'T know Christ... she has family that does, but has not accepted Him. Please pray that the kindness of strangers here may show her His love in a way that softens her heart and brings her to Him! Her name is Esteban. Pray for all of our patients today that we will see, but I especially feel led to ask for prayer for our little old lady with the VERY large uterus that we are taking out (the size of a 36 wk pregnancy!)... don't know why, just feel wary of it. It is big and will be tough, but something more than that that I can't put my finger on! Sending lots of love to everyone at home!! Tomorrow afternoon we will likely head to Canilla so last full day in Chichi! Its been a great trip! See you soon!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

From Chris Schwering this morning...

Guatemala Day3-4..."Your stomach hurts in your breast??"
(Thank you, Dr. Chris, for being generous enough to let me "steal" this off of your Facebook blog to repost here!)
by Christina Schwering on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 7:45am

Good morning! Well I will eventually have to wake my very soundly sleeping hubby who doesn't seem to be bothered at all by the noise here (oh that I was so blessed, but alas, earplugs are a beautiful thing!) but for now, I have a little time to sit in bed with my computer, serenaded by the rooster somewhere outside our room, and share a bit so here goes!

First of THANK YOU for your prayer support! This has been a great trip so far! Our patient load has been a little lighter than average but the percentage of people we can help has been higher than I can ever remember. I think of the 18 patients we have seen so far, all but 2 have actuallly had OB/GYN related issues! You always will get the "Macerena patients" as Heidi calls them ("Donde esta tu dolor?"... and they do the Macarena to show you...) and the sweet ladies whose stomach pain is located in their breasts and whose lung pain is in their shoulders (the Guatemalan counterpart to the "every back pain is my kidneys and every lower belly pain is my ovaries" patients), but most were referrals and therefore pre-screened and legitly needed our help!

So people who don't care for the medical details can skip on to the next paragraph, but for those interested... Yesterday we did 2 "vagathons" (vaginal hysterectomy with prolapse repairs) and a D&C for a uterine polyp... All 3 went beautifully. Kelley is transitioning to Guatemalan "instrumentista" beautifully and the two of us (with her functioning as both scrub tech and first assist the first half of the both vagathons) had a nice little rhythm worked out... don't know many scrub techs who could organize and hand instruments from a limited table while functioning as the ONLY assist on in a vaginal case like that... at home I usually have 3 people to do what Kelley was doing here... did I mention she is awesome??? Has an invite back ANY time! Heidi came in for the repair portion of the cases and has kind of let me just be primary surgeon so far which I have to admit, I kind of love! During other times her and Leisa handled clinic effortlessly despite some of the confusing stories given by our patients! Today we have 2 particularly tough vagathons for prolapse patients that even Dr Hoak, the general surgeon here who is USED to seeing ladies with their girls parts hanging between their legs, deemed impressive! Our one lady has a small grapefruit hanging out which is pretty ulcerated, but we are hoping has enough healthy mucosa to leave her with a functioning vagina. We also scheduled 3 for tomorrow including 2 abdominal hysterectomies for fibroids (1 at 22wk size and one at 36 wk size!) and a vaginal hysterectomy for menorrhagia (heavy bleeding).

Tony is doing well here in Guatemala too... he has been busy playing with kids and catching up on some video editing so far, but plans to do some video of what we are doing and maybe help out Dr Hoak with some things around the apt. I am hoping he is enjoying and finding his niche here a little... I know not speaking the language is tough and I want him to KNOW he is valued here even if he isn't Spanish speaking or medical!

Today we continue in the OR... please pray for our OR patients today and for those recovering... pray especially for these patients to understand where our desire to help them comes from! He is SO good and loves them so much... we want them to understand that! Pray for His continued favor today!!! Thanks guys and God bless!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Praise God for a great day in the OR!

Short note tonight, just to let everyone know that we had a great day-- We operated on Maria, Maria Antoineta, and Tomasa today and they are all doing very well! (Maria Antoineta had a day surgery so is already home, and we just checked on the other two and they look great so far!) Also saw another eight clinic patients and scheduled three more surgeries, so life is good in Gyno-land.

Please continue to pray especially for the patients that we are operating on this week who do not know Christ, and pray that we will be focused on our primary mission of being a blessing to these people that we encounter here and showing them Christ's love for them. It gets harder as we all get a little more tired, so we will try to keep our hearts and minds focused over the next few days.

We were completely delinquent in the photography department today (See? It just proves how hard we were working, right?!), but we'll try to do better tomorrow!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Nearly Perfect Clinic Day

Well, anyone who knows any surgeons know that a "perfect" clinic day (if there is such a thing) is one where you schedule 100% of the patients you see for surgery! We came closer today than ever. I am grateful that God's mercy seemed to be upon us today in the scheduling. We had eight patients show up (then saw two of the local nurses also, for a total of ten)-- Of the eight first ones, seven actually need surgery, and five are scheduled! The other two are not sure they are ready so might come back tomorrow or might come back in February.

I think one of the best parts was that the two hospital employees asked me for a "consulta" today-- This has been happening a little more commonly lately, and to me it is a sign that we are really gaining their trust and respect. At least I hope it is! I have been working here at the hospital for nearly five years now, and I think the first time this happened was my last trip, so it's been pretty slow in coming. Praise God for the positive feedback!

Biggest prayer request of the day: the couple in the picture below. We will be operating on her tomorrow, and they are actually the only patients we saw today that don't at least claim to be Christians. She is in the Catholic church here, in which it is not acceptable to accept Christ. Very sad state of affairs for the Catholic church here, but unfortunately true and we will pray for her hard this week! Her name is Tomasa Mejia and she is pictured with her husband.

The other pictures are Chris and Kelly with our first "paycheck" of the week... a bag of apples from our first patient! I've actually only very rarely had anyone bring a gift like that to their first consult, so it was really quite nice. The second two are of the group (I took the pictures, using the excuse that most of the readers already know what I look like ;-) One is with the "Welcome to Chichicastenango" sign, and the other is just closer. I am so thankful to be here with such a fun and hard-working group!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Travel Day and Safe Arrival!

Well, so far today has been our typical long Saturday of travel—I got up just after Matt got home last night to drive to the airport (around 2:30 am) and have been going ever since. Leisa, a Nurse Practitioner from California who knows Tom Hoak from his previous days there, met us in Guatemala City and had us beat—she started at 6:30 am yesterday!! We’re all very tired but thankful to be here safely and planning to sleep well tonight.

Let me tell you a little bit more about who “we” are this trip—Most of you reading this know Dr. Chris (DeLuca) Schwering who is back on this trip with a new last name and her new husband in tow! We are very excited to have him share in the experience that we have come to love dearly here in Guate.

Kelly Cromer also came down with Chris and Tony—She is a scrub tech at the hospital where Chris practices and I’ve been hearing about her and how Chris wanted to bring her down here pretty much since she started working there! We are hoping that Alma (the Guatemalan scrub tech who has been in that position longer than anyone can remember) will let her give her a break during some of the cases this week. It would also give our brains a little bit of a break since we could ask for instruments in English again! I’m pretty sure that in English we won’t try to ask for “scissors with teeth” or anything like we tend to in Spanish.

Leisa, mentioned above, rounds out our team of five for the week. I am here with no children in tow this time, which will be a great disappointment to the nurses at the hospital but a whole lot easier for me! We are so blessed to have Matt’s parents, Mary Jean and Denzil, staying with him and the kids this week to help while I’m gone. Having the grandparents around definitely takes the sting out of missing Mommy, it seems! (At least that’s what I tell myself, since the alternative is to wonder whether they do miss me!…)

Tomorrow will be our typical very busy day—market, then church, then start the clinic and work until we’re done! That and Monday when we start operating AND trying to see patients in clinic are definitely the most stressful parts of the week, so feel free to pray extra hard for us then! We will do our best to keep you posted, and we'll try to get some pictures up soon, too!