We arrived at the hospital at 8am and after restocking my backpack with dressing supplies, Dr. Holman, Dr. Burch, and I started our rounds in the ICU. All was well for our post-operative patients except for Kenneth, whose oxygen tank was completely empty. The nurses told us that the hospital hadn’t received their oxygen delivery today and didn’t know when it would arrive. With Kenneth going into respiratory failure, Dr. Holman sent me back to the operation theatre to find a local resident doctor who could hopefully catalyze the search for oxygen. I found Dr. Emmanuel prepping for surgery, quickly filled him in on the situation, and we both sprinted back to the ICU together. He immediately found a hand resuscitator and began pumping oxygen into Kenneth. Simultaneously, he questioned the nurses on where there could be oxygen in other areas of the hospital, but much to our dismay, the nurse’s response to him was the same. There was no time to wait for the delivery; something had to be done! Dr. Holman and I scurried to Denise’s room and took the oxygen tank from there back to Kenneth’s room (Denise was stable enough to be off of it). We hooked the tank up to Kenneth and thankfully were able to stabilize him. The reality of the limited resources here and how that affects the feasible care becomes more relevant to us everyday.
A busy morning preceded a long day of surgery. Promise, today’s surgical candidate, was diagnosed with severe Congenital Scoliosis- almost a ninety-degree curve in her spine. To put things into perspective, what looked like her scapula was actually her rib cage! I scrubbed in alongside of Dr. Holman, ready to observe and assist Nadia with her scrub-tech duties. While passing instrument after instrument to the surgeons, I watched as they delicately tied off nerves, removed vertebral bodies, inserted rods and screws, and reconfigured Promise’s spine. Incredible.
The seven-hour surgery flew by and I was taught how to staple up afterwards! Promise was wheeled to the ICU to recover and we wrapped things up after a long day.
Dr. Marvin, a local resident, joined us at the hotel after dinner for some drinks. We further learned about each other’s cultures and broke the news to him that he needs to work on his golf game (he boasted about his eighty-five stroke, nine hole round). After an eventful day and night, it was off to bed.
Quote of the day:
“Do you feel that pulsing structure? That’s her aorta.” –Dr. Burch told me as he gave me an anatomy lesson