After completing rounds, we met with today’s surgery candidate and her mother. Denise K. is an 18-year-old female with neglected idiopathic scoliosis (a large curve in her spine that will only continue to worsen without corrective surgery). Denise informed us that she is a member of the Bakiiga Tribe, a group known for their strength and courage, and that description is spot on for this fearless woman. We asked her mother, “Why do you want Denise to have this surgery today?” She looked at us with animated eyes and began to dance. “So she can do this like me!” was her response to us midway through her boogie. A few chuckles and another examination of her deformity later and it was off to the OR.
Surgery began at 10a.m. I scrubbed in alongside Dr. Holman, ready to assist in any way possible- another first time experience for me. After opening up and exposing the spinal processes (the bumps you can feel running down your back), the severity of the deformity became more apparent to Dr. Holman and Dr. Burch. Denise’s spine was torqued ninety degrees. Some of her anterior vertebral bodies (front parts of the spine) were actually facing posteriorly (towards her back; the wrong direction). We had our work cut out for us!
I think the expression, “when it rains, it pours” is best suited for today. Along with the complexity of the eleven-hour surgery, there were seven lengthy power outages, and three moments when suction went out while coagulating (tying) arteries. During the third outage, the anesthesiologist had vanished from the room and Denise’s breathing seized. Panic set foot in us all. I frantically ran down the hall searching for him or any other anesthesiologist that could help. Upon my return, I was glad to hear that she had started to breath on her own. Thank Goodness. We finally caught a break. The surgery was a success and Denise was sent to the ICU to recover. We would visit her in the morning to check her status.
We finished the eleven-hour surgery at 9:30p.m, knocked out sterilization, and left the hospital around 10:30p.m. After stopping by the Agip hotel for a quick dinner, it was straight to bed for the exhausted Spine Machine Team.
Quote of the day- “I feel like putting an open beer in your backpack is your second bad decision after ordering the coleslaw” –Dr. Burch said to Dr. Holman