This morning Sister Colleen discussed the importance of perspective. Today, the few of us non-medical personnel on this Mission got an entirely new perspective as we were invited into the operating rooms and later put to work as extra hands to scrub down gurneys between surgeries. I witnessed my first, second and third surgeries as I was able to move from operating room to operating room, then follow those patients to PAC-U (post-anesthesia care unit) where the nursing staff took excellent care of the patients.
Yesterday, I spoke to Gretel, a young woman whose husband is one of the cooks at our hotel. She was the first patient for Dr. Patterson, anesthesiologist Dr. Bendebel, scrub tech Alexandra Bierne and nurse Susan Olson in OR1. With a lap choley scheduled, she had no complications, and was moved to recovery rather quickly. With four surgeons and only 3 OR’s, Dr. Biderman was circulating and was kind enough to offer a play-by-play description of the procedure for me as it was happening. One of Dr. Patterson’s last patients was Clementino whose daughter, Valentine, was a patient of Faith in Practice when they sent a team down who fixed cleft palate. Valentine is a year and a half old and has one more surgery to go. He said that he feels good about being here because everyone had taken such good care of his “little princess” when she was here. As they were taking him to the operating room, he had such a huge grin and was so enthusiastic about having his surgery.
In OR2, Dr. Rivera, anesthesiologist Dr. Olson, scrub tech JC Chop and nurse Arlene Howe, they had a patient with a far more difficult lap choley than originally anticipated. The gallbladder was “scared in” with lots of stones, so it took longer than originally anticipated. The crew in the OR worked diligently to successfully help their patient. Their last patient of the day was a far less complicated case. Kimberley Reyes is a 19 year old beautiful young lady who had an inguinal hernia since age 7, but had been causing her a lot of pain since age 15. She told us she is going to school and working taking dictation. Her surgery went beautifully and her mother expressed such gratitude it brought tears to the staff’s eyes and was a good end to the day.
Our most predictably complicated case of the morning was the elderly gentleman who broke down in the waiting room last night because he was in so much pain and so grateful to receive the surgery. He was in OR3, a tiny operating room Dr. Morrow, anesthesiologist John Nguyen, and nurses Lynn Miles and Karen Rice crowded within along with Dr. Biderman used every inch of that space. I did not think there would possibly be any room for me to fit, but they welcomed me in and explained what they were doing throughout the surgery. They also provided some excellent learning opportunities, explaining that he is “a little guy who had a very large hernia” and at 77 years old and only 87 pounds, the surgeons were most concerned about this gentleman and still had successful results. In the recovery room, as he woke up, he said he was in pain but he knew he would be ok.