It was a long day today.
12.5 hours at the hospital. Nine hernias, three gallbladders, one hygroma and three gynecological procedures.
The first patient of the day was Oscar, a four-month-old little one with a bilateral hernia, who would also become our last patient of the day. After his initial surgery, he could not stop crying, and as a result, he busted his hernia! But by the end, he was all smiles. Not only did he stop crying, but he will also start feeling better and will grow up without pain or any impediment that would prevent him from being a normal child.
Through the day there were patients in and out, moving from station to station and families waiting. You could hear children crying but also laughing, like our little buddy Carlitos, a three-year-old with a left inguinal hernia, who thought that making art projects and blowing bubbles was the coolest thing ever! His laugh carried all through the check-in and pre-op area, and when it was his turn for his surgery, he was still smiling. He made us all smile with him! What a gift we got!
Getting into the “groove” is part of the day. Figuring out the kinks and coming up with a system and flow that will carry us through the rest of the week is something that can only be achieved through a team. That is what we are. It’s the great feeling of mutual respect, information sharing, creative ingenuity and a common goal that makes this well-oiled machine work and has for nine years now.
We are joined by a team of locals, who also volunteer their time, as these long hours are outside their regular hospital working schedules. Mayra, Walter, Teresa, Pedro, Pablo, Gloria, Daniel, Enma, Sarita, and Julio make up a team of almost 40 local nurses and hospital employees. This amazing team has been led by Dr. Tun, the Hospital Director and only full-time physician at the hospital. They support us, assist us, learn with us and give their time to make sure that their community benefits as much as possible. Without them, our team would not be able to carry out their mission of #healthforsalucas. It’s this local team that gives us yet another “lesson in humility,” with their selflessness and strong desire to help each other.
It is almost 11 pm here, and a very tired team of Med Missions volunteers are pretty quiet, possibly all asleep. This was just the first long day of procedures; another long list awaits us tomorrow. The “groove” will be figured out by then. Dr. John Alley, surgeon and team Medical Director, shares an inspirational quote with us each day by placing it on the whiteboard where we list our patients for the day and today made us reflect on our own “groove”…
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” -Mahatma Gandhi
I am looking forward to finding and embracing the self I didn’t know I could be.