So, my plan for the weekend was to catch up on blogging, reliving last week one day at a time. But then there was this pool, my children, my wife, a bed, and a wandering Emu, and a coffee plantation… and here I am in the hotel lobby about to board Francis’ 1992 Land Cruiser (aptly named Methuseleh) to head back to Santa Rosa where they have yet to discover WiFi. If we can manage to finish operating by 10pm this week, maybe I’ll have a chance to catch up the blog then.
Said ciao to Wendy and the girls, the Wolheters and their boys this afternoon. It was wonderful to have them here this week, though I regret not seeing them more (I saw less of them here than I typically do in Manitowoc), yet proximity still means something. Emma was quite tearful as we departed and it wound up being contagious. Reuben (the big logistics guy) kind enough to steal the hotel’s horse cart and give us (me and the kids) a ride to the gate to make saying goodbye a bit more fun – Emma was not fooled, but it was nice to have her cuddle in my lap for a few more minutes.
If I don’t have the chance to expound, I will attempt to summarize our work so far (for week one). We did 33 operations, most of which were gallbladders (around 12), hysterectomies (7 or 8), a smattering of hernias, a c-section, an appendectomy, and a number of lipoma or cyst excisions (we did those under local). Turnover time between cases tends to be long as we have to be sure that the patients in recovery are being watched closely, their pain medicines drawn up and orders written, the instruments for the next case are sterilized, the sutures gathered, the patient located, the room cleaned, and we have to drink about 2 gallons of water to replace our own sweat losses.
We also squeeze in our consults between operations so we can make sure tomorrow will be just as busy. Bill was seeing consults almost constantly, stamping out PID with a smile. Jenny Wolheter, our friend from Cochabamba, did much of his translating while her husband James helped us commincate with the OR staff. We take lunch in shifts – lasts about 15 minutes, but at least the room is air- conditioned. We are one or two translators short, so we often scramble to find one or just use my Spanglish/ Gringlish and a lot of pointing. At the end of the day, we make rounds with the local physician who will be staying the night at the hospital and watching the inpatients. They don’t usually take care of surgical patients here, so we have to do a lot of explaining when we write orders. We missed dinner pretty much every day but Monday, but the ladies at the La Tapera restaurant were kind enough to stay open and save some food for us.
The Clinic team had equally long days, often travelling off road for ~3 hours each way and setting up in insufferably hot villages to see ~100 patients, dispense meds, and screen patients for more serious illnesses and surgical diseases. Wendy and the girls went with them on Friday since the drive was shorter, but the heat was still a challenge for them – Emma just wilts. They still had fun making crafts and playing parachute with the Bolivian kids – there were many more of them in the village since school is let out for the event.
Alright. Methuseleh is idling and I have scored a cold Coca Cola from the hotel bar for the 1.5h drive back to Santa Rosa. My hotel room will be lonely, I fear. May blog more often after all.
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Location:Lobby at the Eco