Philippines 2017 – Changes

I am currently somewhere over Canada on the transcontinental flight home with my feet curled underneath me cramped in a small Economy seat in row 36. Fighting back the sleep that I so desperately want but that I so desperately must wait for in order to minimize jet lag, I begin to reflect back on the trip experience as a whole. I do not have all of the statistics in my head, but I know that we performed over 40 surgeries (most major) and donated thousands of dollars of supplies. Obviously those are the main reasons for the trip, but my mind can’t help but wander elsewh...

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Philippines 2017 – Gifts

Gifts, gifts, gifts: today was a day of great appreciation - from us to the local people and from them to us. We went to a kindergarten and met many children who I think are destined to be child models. Singing the ABCs and happy birthday song, we taught them how to wash their hands appropriately. We also handed out watches and other fun accessories which sent them dancing around the school in a full-out party. Others on our team also had tasks related to children in the hospital as we worked together to remove a neck mass in a 7 year old child. He'd had the mass since ...

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Philippines 2017 – Reflections

I sit here at the end of the day: exhausted. Exhausted not in the way that you want to tear out your hair with frustration, but in the way that you sit pool-side dangling your feet in the cool water and sigh with complete satisfaction after a full day’s work. Today was filled with operating and seeing the results of our work from past surgeries. One case today was a deaf-mute 28 year old female with a large thyroid mass that was larger than my entire hand. The mass had been growing for years and had distorted her neck so much that it was completely disfigured. We ...

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Philippines 2017 – Rainy Day

We awoke to a slight rain in the morning. Little did we know, we would be hurtling through the city in a torrential downpour riding in a public ambulance later in the day. Our group completed many cases throughout the day including three ENT cases and many more general surgery cases. One of the patients was a middle aged lady with several years of a slowly-growing neck mass. Work-up indicated that the mass was coming from her thyroid. Today we were able to successfully remove the very inflamed thyroid gland and make her neck symmetrical again.   Another highli...

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Philippines 2017 – So It Begins

Today was a day of many different events even though we all started the day the same: a flag-raising ceremony with lots of singing.  For the rest of the day, some of us spent our time organizing the equipment for the OR after most of our much-needed supplies arrived.  Others spent time visiting with children and parents in the hospital and dispensing necessary items such as children’s clothing, educational packets about breastfeeding, and antibacterial soap.  The final group made the pilgrim voyage to the OR itself starting with a “simple” neck mass in a 14 ...

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Philippines 2017 – Greetings from Bohol

We have started out our journey, traveling from many different places including Kansas City, Houston, and Beijing to meet in Manila and together travel to Bohol.  The bags have arrived and we have all safely made the trip to our destination.  The welcome to the country was wonderful with locally made shell necklaces for all.  A delicious and fresh lunch was provided by our gracious hosts and we were able to enjoy it with an honored guest: the mayor of Taglibaran.    We were able to meet some of our future patients and see the facilities as well as collab...

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Uganda 2017 – Feels the Same

Sunday night in Gulu, Uganda. The room in the surgical ward at Lacor hospital is small and stuffy. There's just enough space for a bed against each wall, two metal chairs and a small desk. The metal shuttered window against the south wall lets in mosquitoes but no air movement. My white shirt is sticking to me as we screen patient after patient. One of our team members takes vitals, another fills out forms and organizes the surgery schedule and a local intern and the patient's attendant help with translation. This means that there are six people in the room at a time, all ...

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Uganda 2017 – A Chance At Life

The wailing of babies filled the hospital pre-op area, but it was a good thing.   Medical Missions Foundation was giving some of most fragile little people in Gulu, Uganda a tremendous gift: a fighting chance to live.   The team performed surgeries on 20 babies during their 5 days in Gulu for a variety of health problems, including lesions, burns, congenital anomalies and urological issues. Four of the babies weighed less than 6.5 pounds.   Baby Emmy captured the hearts of the entire team.  At two weeks old he was a tiny 4.6 pounds and had ...

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Uganda 2017 – Now What

Well, we're home, now what? All of my built-in friends are gone. When I wake up in the morning there's no one to talk to. There's no one at coffee that I can sit with and simply watch the changing colors of the sunrise. There are no smiling children on the streets to wave at on the way to work.   There's no one who needs me between surgeries. No one grabbing me to go screen a patient. It's very quiet here today as I sit and wait for the next one to start. I can talk to the family, dictate, greet the next patient and still have too much time to think.  ...

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Uganda 2017 – We Are One

And then sometimes something unexpected happens. It was Friday morning. With only four short surgeries on the schedule, the end had nearly arrived. Truly it had been a fairly uneventful week in my room. Busy but rewarding, difficult and yet always unique, we hadn’t had any major disasters or difficult cases. We were a well-oiled machine, but as strange as it sounds I was melancholy about it all.   I wasn’t even sure we were making a difference. I hadn’t really bonded with any of the patients. Most of the surgeries blended together. Prostate surgery, ...

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