The Houstonians landed in London around 8:30a.m. and didn’t waste a minute scuffling through security (besides Laura and Dr. Holman’s elaborate bag searches) to prop up Huxley’s Bar and enjoy a few cold Stella’s during the four hour layover. We spend these jet-lagged hours deliriously expressing our excitement for the weeks to come. Thinking our plane was leaving an hour later than it actually was allowed us to get our workout in for the day- a full-fledged jog to the gate at 12:20p.m. for our 12:30p.m. flight. Miraculously, we made it. With little more than a wave to Dr. Burch and Rob, who were already aboard the plane, we were soaring south towards Entebbe on our second 9-hour flight.
We touched down in Entebbe at 11p.m. on a chilly, starlit evening. The team huddled together after the flight and some first time introductions were made. With the team finally together, we found our bus (not an easy task), loaded all of our gear and supplies, and set out on the tiring, teeth-chattering (some of us didn’t prepare for cold weather), but exciting 5-hour drive to the Lakeview Resort in Mbarara (our home for the next 2 weeks).
Arriving at the resort around 5:15a.m. we unloaded, checked in, and were greeted by the daring few members of Team Sparta who were heading out for their morning, monkey accompanied run. After settling down and taking a much-needed nap, we made our way to the hospital and became familiar with our working environment. We were pleased with what we saw- large operation rooms, lighting, and a low-tech air conditioning system. What more could we ask for?
Dr. Lieberman took us through the wards while making his rounds and introduced us to post-operative patients like Eric (the TB kyphosis patient), whom we would continue to monitor throughout our two weeks here. He also introduced us to Frank, a 13-year old boy with congenital kyphosis who was scheduled for us to operate on the next day.
After completing rounds with Dr. Lieberman, Dr. Holman and Dr. Burch split up and held a clinic searching for prospective operable patients. We saw largely adult patients during clinic and found a handful that we felt to be operative candidates. Other patients were told to get new X-rays and CT scans (many had year old images; some none at all) which will hopefully reveal issues the team could address. The new patients would need to be worked into the full surgery schedule that Dr. Lieberman had lined up for us.
After a bitter-sweet last day of surgery for Team Sparta and a full day of clinic for us, it was time to feed our empty stomachs. The two teams headed to the one and only Agip hotel (where the fish kabob never disappoints). We were able to hear of the wonderful week experienced/accomplished by the first team and even fit in a few humorous games of sharades. After our festive dinner, it was time to catch some shut-eye, eagerly anticipating our first day of surgery and two weeks to come.