Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Thoughts over Ramen Noodles

Finished up in the OR today at a decent hour (?Five or so?), giving me time to visit with all the post-op patients, discharge one to her home, and get things mostly packed up in the clinic.  Now I'm sitting in the apartment, gloriously by myself enjoying a cup of ramen noodles for a late supper!

That thought reminds me about how God always knows and always sends us exactly what we need, when we need it.  This week was busy and tough-- but not too tough or so busy that I can't get out to my beloved Canillá "family" and spiritual retreat tomorrow!  We had enough surgeries to fill busy days but not so many that we had to turn people away.  And only God realized how much more I could rest without having others traveling with me.

Don't get me wrong-- it's also more fun when others are with me!  But right now I would be out to dinner with them or worrying about what they needed to find in the market tomorrow and making coffee for the morning and talking til all hours of the night.  Instead, I am sitting here with no need to apologize for my stinky feet and getting ready to go to bed!

If ever I needed a week that was a little less emotionally and mentally taxing, this was it.  Funny how that always work out, right?

The even cooler part is the way that God sent so many precious patients exactly what they needed this week!  At least two surgeries that Tom and I did together (along with excellent help still from Cesy and Lindsey...) were significantly challenging-- to the point where I would really worry whether a less conscientious and well-trained Guatemalan surgeon would have really made a mess!  This is not to brag on my abilities or training, mind you, but God has given Tom and I the gift of excellent training (him definitely more than me!) for this purpose.  Just another reminder how all things work together for the good of those who love Him.

I did snap a few more pictures today to share-- Lindsey and Cesy each operating, them both with a family we operated on today, and probably my favorite in quite a while-- Sweet Sebastiana when I saw her this morning before her surgery, with her Bible open beside her on the bed to Psalms (her favorite is Psalm 67).  I don't think there is a more welcome sight for a Christian surgeon on pre-op rounds!  (Hate that her eyes are closed, but didn't notice until later :-/)

God bless her and all of you~  Please keep praying for fast recoveries; the patients all look great so far!

There is always something new under the sun...

Really.  I think that every time something completely new happens here in Guatemala, my mind truly tries to believe that it will be the last new thing that could possibly come up!  After living here for two years and this being (I'm pretty sure) my THIRTIETH trip since, what could possibly surprise me anymore?

So here's my list (so far) of "firsts" for this week:

1.  We've had two patients come see us from Guatemala City!  This is roughly equivalent to someone who lived in Raleigh deciding to go to Ahoskie to ask for a surgery.  While I would love to think it's because they've heard such awesome things about ME, I'm truly grateful that GOD continues to look out for us and the reputation of HIS hospital here.  And I truly hope that it's not just because they've heard they can tell us they are poor and get a steep discount... :-/

2.  I had my patient's daughter scrubbed in as first assistant on a vaginal hysterectomy.  Last trip we had a grandson observing the surgery (he was a medical student), but this time it was Dra. Lindsey's MOM as the patient!  What a privilege...

3.  I've now "taught" at least two hysterectomies completely in Spanish.  Which means I'm even more exhausted mentally than usual tonight...

4.  I transfused O negative blood (universal donor)-- almost everyone is a positive blood type here, but Sally York, another missionary that brought the patient in that we were operating on, gave us a bag of her O negative and I think it was transfused before it was even cold!

5.  I used "What's App"... but still don't really know how.  It's really popular here.

6.  I've had pathology results sent to me via email (via Duane Ficker's "What's App" account first... no idea how she even found that!) from a patient the day after her appointment because she didn't bring them to her appointment.

7.  I've watched a US Presidential debate in Guatemala, thanks to Tom's cable TV... That one I could have lived without, to be honest.

8.  Used a new private "staff bathroom" they just built here at the hospital.  Still had to bring my own toilet paper, though...

And that's all I can think of right now!  Not bad for my second day here, though...  I guess I'll never stop being surprised.  Hope not, anyway...

Here are some pics:  Lindsey with her mom, Cesy and Lindsey in clinic with a patient for surgery tomorrow, and Tom's new adopted puppy that stole his heart Saturday!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Yep, clinic is longer when you start a day late!

So today was the first day of clinic for this week, which is weird since usually I do clinic on Sunday and start operating on Monday with more patients in between.  Having gotten off to a late start made for a long clinic day today, but was certainly well worth it.  (For those of you who don't know, I came down a day late because my father passed away last Monday and we held his funeral on Saturday...)

I think the final total today was 26 patients, which was about four more than I have seen in a single day in this setting previously... Thank goodness for the amazing help of Dra. Lindsey Rodriguez (yes, the same Dra. Lindsey that was in medical school when Matt and I lived here!  Now practicing and incredibly smart...) and a local health promoter who works with Health Talents Intl., Cesy.  Cesy was especially helpful since she speaks the local Mayan language as well.

I'll try to get a better picture of them tomorrow-- this is the best I did today!

Some of the clinic highlights and prayer requests from today:

1. Please pray for Manuela, our third patient today-- who has inoperable cervical cancer!  Always a hard way to start a clinic day, but definitely a joy to be able to embrace the family, pray with them, and hear how she knows the Lord and has security in her salvation.  She is currently without pain or bleeding, but that is unlikely to last for long.

2.  We scheduled four surgeries (yes, only four out of 26!)-- which is weird, but at least we were able to give a lot of reassuring reports and options to patients today.  Giving good news or palatable options to patients is always a joy.

3.  Three of the four surgeries we scheduled are abdominal cases-- which are much easier to do with less experienced help (such as Dra. Lindsey and Cesy), and also MUCH better for teaching those new to the OR since they will be able to see so much better.  How cool is God to arrange that?! ;-)

4.  Another highlight for today was seeing a patient that Dr. Tom Hoak (the North American general surgeon who works here more often than I do) and I have been basically working up over the internet for the last couple of months, asking the local missionary Sally York to get the labs and studies we felt we needed and reviewing the results.  I even got several radiologists who I met on physician mom groups on facebook to look at her CT scan for me.  We will take her to the OR tomorrow to remove two very large ovarian cysts (20 cm each or so...) and continue to try to figure out what the problem is with her blood and spleen as time goes on.

5.  I'll leave you with an uplifting story from The Church, which we hear far too few of these days!  There was a sweet, very old, "little old lady" brought in today by the wife of the pastor of the Methodist church in their town.  The lady is not a Christian, but this pastor's wife has been evangelizing to her and became aware of her health complaints.  She turned out not to have anything horribly wrong with her, but this lady from the church-- which the patient doesn't even attend!-- sat with her all day long waiting on her consult to help translate and make sure she got the care she needed.  This is what we are called to do, fellow brothers and sisters in Christ!  So it was fun to see it done correctly today, another small gift that God sent us to get us through a busy day.

Tomorrow we will start in the OR, with a vaginal hysterectomy, the removal of the two large cysts, and an abdominal hysterectomy.  Wednesday so far we have an abdominal cystectomy planned for a teratoma.  We'll see what else shows up in clinic tomorrow, which we will run between surgeries.