Today was an interesting and exciting day! A fair amount happened throughout the day, but I want to share two stories and bullet the other events.
Lori, Sally, Jean Ann, and I worked in pre- and post-op (all in one room). Between patients I decided to organize the pre-op area by finding a blood pressure cuff and IV solutions etc. So, away I went on my search. I was opening drawers in the cabinet and out jumped a rat. No kidding, it jumped out, bounced off of me, hit the floor and ran into one of our Gundersen bags full of supplies. I personally did not witness where it went because I was jumping up and down and turning in circles at the same time. Jean Ann saw where the rat went. We needed the supplies from the bag but were concerned to even attempt to chase it away fearing that it might bolt from the room and take a right turn into the operating rooms, so we decided to call for help.
Three male attendees and the head nurse arrived. With broom in hand they checked out the cabinet where it had made a nest out of cotton gauze, searched under the bed and then went for the Gundersen bag. Sure enough, there it was and sure enough, it tried to make a right turn. At this point in time, Lori is moving her feet up and down at a very rapid pace, Jean Ann jumped on the bed and I was right behind her. The head nurse was running. Clearly no one wanted their feet on the ground. The final image that is etched in our mind is a white clog stomping on the rat and its tail sticking out from under it. We all laughed so hard, we were practically crying.
The second story impacted all of us in a profound way. A 30 year old female presented with an abdominal mass. It was quite large on her right side. She did not speak Amharic or English, so, communication was difficult at best. She was very anxious and clearly wanting/needing the mass to be removed to ease her discomfort. It’s amazing how we all can communicate despite the language barrier. She was an absolute sweetheart and she and I bonded quickly.
In surgery it was discovered that the mass was adhering to her major organs and most definitely was cancerous. The mass was deemed inoperable. I knew something wasn’t right when she returned so quickly to post op. Lori and I were there when she woke up and gave us a smile. While we comforted her our hearts where heavy. There would not be a good outcome for this young woman. The local surgeon came in to talk to us and said that he would tell her tomorrow when her family was here and they were able to have a translator. She watched me closely and looked into my eyes often, I believe she knew the outcome but was looking for support of which I was able to give by touching her cheek and talking to her softly. She was able to rest. When the staff moved her to her room I had tears in my eyes, imaging what the remainder of her life might be like.
So, a few quick bullets to share a bit about our day:
- We all attended the daily flag ceremony. The school children line up by grade and stand at attention as the flag is raised. We were formally introduced after the ceremony.
- The teachers wear white lab coats.
- Iyad wore an Epic scrub cap. He explained to me that he wanted everyone to know that he was the go to guy for any Epic issues we might have. Now that’s the spirit I’m looking for. We had an EMR without the E, if you know what I mean.
- We walked for 20 minutes to the hospital on a road with goats, cows, tuktuks, buses and lots of friendly people waving and saying hello to us.
- We completed 7 surgical cases. The first two were completed with all of the local surgical team and the Gundersen surgical team together. Then they split up with Sig and Abe together and ran two operating rooms the remainder of the day. The surgical cases consisted of goiters, hydroceles, vaginal prolapse, sebaceous cyst removal, and abdominal mass.
- We ate injera and wat for lunch at the hospital (all eaten with our hands). Seriously everyone, this food is awesome.
- One of the local scrub nurses fainted during the second case, and no one seemed surprised. The local physician said this was common, the staff gave her some glucose and she got up and went back to work.
- One of my pre-op patients decided when he felt thirsty he would just turn up the IV drip and when he felt better he turned it down. I gave him the thumbs up—he was doing a good job!
- We walked back to Project Mercy with a lot of the kids that wanted to give us high 5’s, speak English with us and have their picture taken! Tons of laughter and smiles – nice way to leave work.
- Amy and Mark had a good filming day and have their stories scoped out – it’s really great to have them with us!
- Cheryl not only fixed both broken sewing machines but met with all 42 of the children that live here that came to see her with their mending requests. She was having a great time and the kids were happy.
- We have an amazing team here, I’m so proud of all of us and Gundersen. The local team is fantastic, they are professional, efficient, and very busy. Learning is occurring both ways this trip.
- One last bullet – according to the Ethiopian calendar, it’s the year 2006 and our midnight is 6 am here. So documenting dates and times is a challenge. We’ll get it eventually!
I’ll end by saying how much we appreciate you reading our blog posts and leaving comments. We read them out loud in the evening. I wish you all could see the smiles on our faces as we listen knowing that you are interested in our work. We feel the care and support you are sending our way.