The highlight of rounds this morning was witnessing Edith, who was operated on last Friday, courageously stand up on her bed after a painful week of recovery. She’ll be able to return home in the next few days. Promise, who was operated on yesterday, is doing well and we hope she’ll be on her feet soon as well. After rounds, we divided up into two surgery teams. Dr. Burch, Nadia, and Laura set up in OR 4 and Dr. Holman, Dr. Marvin, and I in OR 3. Rob had the honor of bouncing back and forth between rooms to manage the instrumentation (a miniscule task for a man of his capability).
Dr. Burch’s crew was operating on Eric, who needed revision of a previous surgery’s instrumentation. In our room, Dr. Holman was performing an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion on the one and only Revered Sam, who had been patiently waiting the past week for the arrival of the mechanism needed to fix the C-arm. His family put forth funds to buy the part needed and for this superlative deed, the C-arm at the Mbarara Regional Hospital will forever be known as the “Reverend Sam.”
Throughout the day, power outages (every half-hour or so), the lack of functioning suction-tips, and the searing OR temperatures were among the many obstacles we faced. However, with these being the ninth and tenth surgeries we’ve performed under these conditions, we simply weren’t fazed. Both groups successfully finished their operations around 4:30pm and worked together to knock out sanitation in a timely fashion.
The Dean of the Medical University and many of the local doctors we’ve worked with in the past two weeks invited us to a 6pm dinner at the Agip hotel, thanking us for the work we’ve accomplished and the commitment of the Spine Surgery Mission to Mbarara. Knowing that a 6pm scheduled dinner in Ugandan time really meant 6:30-7pm, we weren’t concerned that we were running a bit behind schedule. Once there, it was astonishing to hear facts such as in Uganda, a country of over thirty-seven million people, there are only two orthopedic surgeons (one being Dr. Deo who we worked with throughout the trip)! These facts really helped us to understand the potent impact we’ve had in a short two weeks on the people of Mbarara. Dinner concluded at 9pm and the team relaxed at the resort before catching one last night of sleep in Uganda.
Dr. St. Clair and the rest of team 3 arrived at the Lakeview Resort early this morning ready to continue the Spine Surgery Mission in Mbarara. Both teams joined forces at the hospital to unload the new supplies that they would surely need to complete the busy week of surgery that lay ahead of them. Rounds were a collaborative effort, allowing team 3 to familiarize with the post-operative patients they would continue to oversee. Kenneth is showing signs of daily improvement, as is Denise. Reverend Sam, one of yesterday’s surgeries, is less anesthetized today and can move is feet. Eric, the other surgery completed yesterday, is doing well this morning and we hope with time, he’ll regain bowel control. We visit with the rest of our patients and introduce them to the new team, ensuring them they’re in good hands. With each heart-breaking goodbye, we are comforted with the thought that our patients have the potential to live much happier lives.
We say our goodbyes to our loving friends that have helped us throughout our two-week stay. To Sister Rose, who has kept things organized and the tearoom stocked with Chipate and Samosas (local scrumptious cuisine). To Dr. Deo and the local resident doctors, who have gone above and beyond to assist in any way possible. And finally, to team 3, who will finish the last leg of the 2014 Uganda Spine Surgery Mission.
Team Spine Machine went back to the resort, loaded up our belongings, and set off on the six-hour trip back to the Entebbe airport. Along the way, we stopped at the equator for a funnel demonstration and some touristy shopping.
Quote of the day:
“I can’t believe I just peed in an African forest.” –Laura