Saturday, February 5, 2011

Looking for direction

I'm looking for a direction for this blog.  I've been thinking and thinking and so far, nothing.  It will come.

In the meantime, I've been busy.  I spent 10 days in a small village in Honduras with a medical mission.  A friend invited me to help paint a mural on the wall of the hospital there and I jumped at the chance.  I also got to do some nurse-y things.

Here's what I wrote on Facebook about the experience:

My trip to Honduras came about by happenstance when I stopped by to say 'Hi' to a neighbor.  She had gone the previous year at the invitation of the organizers and was going back to create a mural to brighten the drab hospital walls. I said: "I've always wanted to do something like that!" and the rest is history. 

The organizers are a retired orthopedic surgeon and his wife who hail from Minneapolis but winter in Tucson. They have been making the Honduras trip for 5 years.  They gather together a team of medical professionals that this year included 2 orthopedic surgeons, a retired neurosurgeon, an ob-gyn, 2 anesthesiologists, 2 CRNAs, an MD-MPH whose day job is epidemiology, 2 PACU (recovery room) RNs and 2 pre-op RNs. And then there were the "kids", 4 pre-meds and 1 youth ministry student who kept us all energized with their enthusiasm and seemingly boundless energy. And even though everyone had their professional titles it was often of matter of doing whatever it took to get the job done.  When there was a flood in the OR one evening at 9:30, most of us were down there doing whatever we could to make sure the room was ready for the surgeries scheduled for the next day.

This week a new team organized by the same people is there.  This team includes a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and an eye surgeon.

The first 2 days on the ground, the orthopedists see patients in clinic.  People flock to be seen and put on the list to get a new joint the following year.  The logistics of an endeavor like this are mind-boggling as they have to keep track of how many knees, right and left and how many hips need to be brought to Honduras. You would hate to show up with all right knees!  We also had to carry in most of the other supplies, including instruments, needed for these big surgeries. All of the supplies are donated.  The Minneapolis crew even brought an orthopedic instrument tray that their hospital donated for use during the time they were in Honduras.

Those having ortho surgery this year were seen last year and put on the surgery list.  One woman who was seen last year called the hospital to see when her surgery would be done.  She was told if she could get there she could have it that day.  So she walked, and I'm not talking from across the street.  She walked several miles on a bad knee.  Amazing.

They gyn cases are seen and evaluated as they come in or referred by a local physician.  Gyn surgeries can start as little cases but you never know what you might find once the surgeon is in there.  There were several little cases that turned into big cases.  I know one day 7 total knees were done along with various gyn cases.  The hospital has 3 ORs that are reasonably set-up with old anesthesia machines, a cranky vacuum (for suction in surgery) system, an intermittently functioning autoclave but a lot of willing help. There were a couple of days that surgeries went on until 10:00pm. The smiles of the Honduran people made it all worthwhile.

I did some pre-op and PACU the first 2 days while my friend finished her preliminary design.  We put a chalk line grid on the wall and then with charcoal transferred the design.  And then we painted and painted and painted some more. 

I'm so grateful to have had this opportunity, I've never done anything that has brightened so many faces.
To say that something is life changing sounds so cliched.  But this trip was.

1 comment:

  1. I loved reading about your adventure. I so need to keep seeing, reading, knowing about the good stuff around me. I love your pictures and all the color you have in your life.