A few notes from 34,000 feet
It is Saturday and I, along with most of the Oregon team, am sitting in my seat on the plane at 34,000 feet. We had a 4am wake-up call this morning so we could fly back home to our own little corner of the world. I have missed the last two nights writing to you all, my apologies for that. The GI bug that reared (pun intended) its ugly head has spread to several more members of the team and my rough estimate is 1/3 or so of our team has the bug and were challenged with the condition to some degree. All of our Oregon surgeons were on the naughty list and my heartfelt thanks goes out to them for hanging in there and making it happen!
I am sure that it was not the most comfortable they have felt in the OR! The good news is that this is not a serious long-term problem and everyone will be right as rain in a few days. What’s odd is that the illness has different grades to it, we have people who were only mildly affected and able to work while others had to sleep for 16 hours and fight it that way. Joe Mahoney, one of our able-bodied anesthesiologists had to open a MASH unit and we had a few of our team members getting regular IV’s to give them fluids. Thankfully we are a medical mission as we needed some of the supplies we brought along to treat ourselves. I feel very fortunate so far to have been spared and hope that I have missed the misery bus altogether! So, with some of our teammates at less than full capacity, those of us that could work put in a little extra so that the show would still go on, thus a couple of more late nights and much needed rest prevented me from sending out more frequent postings.
I am happy to report that amazingly we set a record this year for the number of surgeries performed at 63 which beat last years’ total of 62 . The addition of our 5th room was huge, the illness slowed us down some but we did one more case than we did last year. Oddly, on our last OR day, Thursday, we had 3 cases cancel so we would have done 66. Still, we are stoked with 63! When you think of the impact this has on the patient and the family, the ripple effect from these needed operations is absolutely amazing. So many people impacted and so many people whose lives are changed forever!
Our team was amazing this year and pulled together even more than normal in support of our stricken members. I don’t mean to say that the sick folks didn’t contribute, they did their fair share for sure, no question about it and did it feeling subpar to boot. But the willingness of our healthy team members to step up and do whatever was required was remarkable and inspiring, well done team! The tear down and removal of equipment back to ILAC was really smooth and with the help of Adele, Alisa, Andrea, and Debbie the instrumentation is more organized than ever before and will make set up next year much simpler. Thanks my friends, you guys are the bomb and I am so appreciative! Every team member pitched in and helped this process, saving tons of time and making preparation efforts for next year that much easier!
An update on the Cadillac autoclave: it is being serviced and having new elements placed into it over the weekend. Though we didn’t get to use it this year we are glad to know it too is on the road to recovery and look forward to using it next year. Total cost for the repairs will be about $500! Yep $500 and the Caddy is rolling along at 60MPH and making a big difference for Juan Bosch employees, patients, and us FTM’ers next year. Dr. Duwelius was instrumental in getting through the bureaucracy surrounding this challenging issue. His polite professional persistence was impressive. Thanks Pablo for taking that one on. That will pay huge dividends for years to come!
Our hosts are very appreciative and grateful for what OpWalk FTM does and they express this to us with the Thursday night party for us. Mind you, it is Thursday night and we are always tired and ready for bed. But, those of us that could make it boarded the bus to GO to the party at 8:30pm. Once there, we spent an hour or so dancing and laughing and basically decompressing from an exhausting week. I was hungry and tired and I wasn’t smart enough to get to the head of the line for our dinner which was a chicken stew served over rice. By the time I made my way to the front of the line the food supply had run out. I got a few bites from my buddies but not enough to fill the void. I had some turkey jerky back in my room so knew I would be ok but still I was plenty hungry. Hopping off the bus back at the hotel I bumped into one of our team members in the lobby who was getting another bag of fluids dumped into him in our MASH hospital by Dr. Joe. As we sat there talking a pizza delivery guy walked in with 6 or 7 big old pizza boxes and asked if we wanted some! Um, pizza is always good and when you are hungry and tired it is even better. As we sat there munching on pepperoni pizza and rehashing the week I realized that though we had some challenges along the way, this had been a great week and all of our goals realized! Our 63 patients were recovering and set for a changed life with a great future ahead of them. Our residents had seen many cases and presentations each which will help them to become better doctors. Our team had overcome challenges getting to the DR and health issues once in the DR to deliver yet another great year being excellent stewards of what you all give to us. A great finish to a great week and all I can say is THANK YOU to all of you for your support.
I will speak with you all soon and look forward to another year of preparing for our next trip!
"Movement is life, freedom, and independence."
-Dr. Paul Duwelius, Founder of Freedom to Move