Happy Valentine’s Day! I am writing to give an update on the surgical cases thus far. I have personally done 15 cases over the first week. We have removed a couple lipomas. These are not the typical lipomas we see in our GL surgery clinic. For example, we had a lady who has had a lipoma in her right axilla for the last 10 years. She had put off surgery multiple times. This was so large she could not put her arm down anymore. The surgery went very successfully and we removed this 15cm x 15cm lipoma that probably weighed at least 1 kg. We removed another lipoma on a woman’s back, only coming in after she could no longer lay on her back at night. We removed a hemangioma on a 1 year old girl’s neck (estimated blood loss approx. 4 drops). Jacky did an amazing job as he had to improvise in so many ways for this and other cases. Dr. Sig, Dr. F and myself all scrubbed in on an ExLap for a woman with large pelvic mass. We found several extremely large fibroids and did an open hysterectomy. She is doing well post-op with no narcotic! The last case of the week was an incarcerated inguinal hernia that the man described as being there for 10 days. We found a very thick sac (probably about 1mm) with perforated small bowel within. From an inguinal approach we performed a small bowel resection with a hand-sewn anastomosis. I also scrubbed an open uterine suspension for utero-vaginal prolapse early in the week with Dr. F. This is very common here and presents at a much earlier age than what we would typically see in the US. The following day, I walked Dr. Sig through the case, as he had never done one before. As the saying goes “See one, do one, teach one” only now “see one, teach one…to your attending.” Of course just kidding – Dr. Sig assisted me through the case as I acted as Surgeon Junior. Several more cases but I won’t write about them all – subtotal thyroidectomy, breast fibroadenoma, another open uterine suspensions, open prostatectomy.
One of the wonderful things about the OR here is the open flow. The windows are open to allow a nice breeze in while we operate. Who do I have to talk to at GL to get the natural light in the OR at home?
Dr. Jacobs and Devin have been in the operating room as well, doing a biopsy of a bone tumor on a 14 year old and removing an extra great toe from another young female. Both cases went very well. They have several more cases in the works for this week.
Dr. F has several cases lined up for Dr. Karnowski and team 2 as well.
I am thoroughly enjoying my time in the OR and learning a lot. Whether it is seeing something for the first time, seeing a problem we might see in the US but now to a whole new degree, or learning a new way to do an operation, I have learned so much. I am really enjoying figuring out how to improvise without all of our fancy toys we usually have at home (for example, using a long needle driver with a blade clamped at the end to make an inguinal incision), and I believe this will be so useful in my future practice no matter where I end up. I have found it all a very humbling and re-energizing experience. The patients are so grateful (and complain about nothing without any pain meds, or during their long waits for the operating room). The Ethiopian staff has been so helpful and welcoming as our team adjusts to the OR; they have made us feel like part of their team from day 1. I look forward to the next 2 weeks of operating!
– Mallory Bray
THE SISTERS OF TEAM ONE
Sister Sally, Sister Lori, Sister Katie, Sister Kathy, Sister Ashley and Sister Rosie.
No, we are not nuns, but we all are registered nurses on Team One. Here in Ethiopia the term “sister” is used when referring to a nurse. It is a sign of respect for the person and the profession.
So, does this mean you should all be addressing us as “sister” when we return home? Well, it is a very nice thought, but not a good idea. Some of us are married and we certainly don’t want to confuse the real nuns/sisters at home!
– Kathy Flatoff
Here’s a short entry on another exciting new project for our ladies in the sewing room (as if they didn’t have enough to do already). One of my favorite past time activities in high school was playing “sepa” or hackie sack. I used to play this every day with my friends at school or youth group, and my best friend Dan and I have played this in very odd places, including on top of a mountain, on the L train in Chicago and on a boat. Well, coming back to Ethiopia, I thought because these children are so naturally gifted at all things, but especially soccer, I wondered if they had ever played hackie sack. I casually asked Cheryl if she had ever sewed a hackie sack and her response was “No, but we can try!” Using extra fabric, Rosie, Cherry, Lori & Cheryl figured out how to make a bunch of these and tasked me with figuring out what to use to fill them. Because dirt and small gravel is widely available on the roads, we used this and it worked great! I should mention it is very advantageous to play this while wearing TOMS shoes!
I forgot to mention in a previous post that TOMS also has a line of sunglasses, sneakers and winter boots. Lastly, Tom’s is on the verge of launching sales of fashionable hand bags with the proceeds going directly to global women’s health… just sayin’.