Upon our 8a.m. arrival at the hospital, Sister Rose dropped some heart-wrenching news on us. The oxygen supply was depleted and she wasn’t sure when the resupply would occur: Quite an eye-opening experience. Things we’d never consider obstacles faced in the United States can shut down every surgery here for the day in a matter of seconds. “Oh well, what can we do?” was all that was said to us about the situation and it’s the sad truth. We sat down with Ttendo, the anesthesiologist, and he explained that he would personally make the trip to Kampala today to pick the oxygen up (a sigh of relief for us all).
Disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to operate, we had to make the best of the day. Dr. Holman, Dr. Burch, Laura, and myself began our rounds by visiting young Frank, our surgery patient from Tuesday. Two days after surgery and he tells us that he’s already “feeling much better.” With a little support from the team, he was able to get out of bed and walk around- his first trek since surgery. Once he was nestled back in bed, I pulled some fruit snacks out of my backpack and gave them to him: A well-deserved reward for his accomplishment. His face lit up with an ear-to-ear grin and he gave us a thumbs-up as he tried them.
On the other side of the ICU was Denise, yesterday’s surgery patient. She was in some pain, but that’s expected after an eleven-hour, major corrective surgery. With sensation in all of her extremities, we were pleased with her status. Laura, who does our neuro-monitoring during surgery, got hands on and changed out her dressings. It amazes me everyday to see the compassion this entire team radiates!
After tending to other patients in the ward, we left the hospital for some team bonding. Pulling into the resort I noticed a group of local children, varying in age, playing soccer and rugby in an open field. I had an itch to join them and that’s exactly what I did. At first, the boys were very timid, looking away from me when I asked them questions and giggling when I told them I just wanted to talk, but after a few minutes the tension eased and I was bombarded with questions. “What is the USA like?” “Why do you come here?” and so forth. The boys and I switched off asking and answering questions about each other’s lives and cultures. Eventually, we got onto the topic of dvd’s and to my surprise they had seen lots of movies from the states, like the Avengers and Spiderman. I asked them if they had a dvd player and when they told me, “yes”, I ran to the resort and grabbed the movie Paul (it was the only one I thought they would appreciate) that I brought to pass the time on the airplane and a jumbo bag of jerky. They were ecstatic when I told them it was for them to keep and share! Rugby followed and I learned the hard way how athletic these boys are (or how out of shape I am).
A couple of hours passed and it was time for me to leave for dinner. I said my goodbyes and went back to the resort. Those boys changed my life and I hope I impacted them in some way as well. No surgery was performed today, but I feel as if ‘good’ was done. The Spine Machine Team spent countless hours getting to know each other and I got to spend time with a group of incredible children.
Quote of the day:
“Sorry Dr. Holman, we’re going to have to cancel your surgery for today. There’s no oxygen… or power.” –Sister Rose