Monday 2-25-19

Posted on: 02/26/2019

Author: Therese Kiernan

Alisson before surgery

What a wonderful way to start the day – singing “Great Are You, Lord”!  Our devotions are held outdoors in the early morning, and it is not unusual to hear the birds singing along with us. Pastor Dave reminded us of the first words of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, “It’s not about you.”  Our story is being woven with God’s much bigger story. Most of us come on this mission trip thinking our purpose is to heal others. While that is part of the story, what we don’t anticipate is the healing we find within ourselves.

Today is our first surgical day. We have four operating rooms for our patients, one for orthopedic upper extremities (Dr. Peters), one for orthopedic lower extremities (Drs. Anderson and Harris) and two gynecological rooms (Drs.  Crable and Chhutani, and Drs. Bailey and Eisenberg.)

While the procedures performed by our surgeons are mostly routine, in Guatemala, patients suffer from maladies for years before receiving treatment. For example, women in remote villages may have gynecological pain, tumors or other conditions that in America would have been recognized on yearly exams. At home, a child born with any sort of abnormality or deformity receives intervention as soon as possible. In Guatemala, a child’s condition, (such as a club foot, hip dysplasia), requires more extensive treatment because the condition has progressed without treatment for several years.

One of our gynecological patients rode over three hours to Antigua on bus. However, she came alone, and unfortunately surgery was not possible without a family member present. She came out of the OR area crying because her surgery was delayed until Thursday, and she will have to travel home and return again Thursday. Most of the women that we see for procedures are accompanied by sweet husbands who are very loving and concerned about their spouses. We did treat one lady who was hesitant to return home because she has an alcoholic abusive husband. Sadly, many women do not have alternatives and are forced to remain in an unsafe environment.

Our orthopedic teams saw several pediatric patients today that required corrective surgeries. 

Alisson, a sweet three-year-old girl, required a hip reduction.

Cristofer is a three-year-old boy with cerebral palsy who needed a tendon release procedure.

A seven-year-old boy named Juan received a ligament repair to his hand.

So many of these procedures are life-changing for these patients. Nothing is more difficult for our surgeons than telling a patient that they cannot help them. 

On a humorous note, one of our anesthesiologists told a child to be brave and to breathe from the mask he was applying. He used the Spanish word "bravo," which in the Guatemalan culture translates to "angry, wild or crazy."

Through the course of the day, Pastor Dave, with interpreter Sandy, met with the patients and their families to pray with them before heading back to the OR.

Down the hall in the Dental Clinic, Patty provided dental cleaning and lovely smiles for another 14 patients.

After a long day at the Obras, we enjoyed a delicious chicken dinner generously donated by Pollo Campero, accompanied by grilled vegies and dessert prepared by our cooks, Mark and Katie.

Therese Casterline Kiernan, Photojournalist