I got about a dozen to fifteen emails today letting me know that my Tuesday notes had not been received. I want to apologize to those folks and all of you and let you know that I did not actually write anything last night as it was a very long day. Most of us finally got to bed after our long days somewhere between 12:30 and 1AM; a long day but a good one! In contrast, tonight we returned to Hotel Rey at 7PM and this was a tremendous and much welcomed improvement!! I was noodling on the past couple of days and how to approach things regarding my comments for today and I landed on rolling both days activities into one posting. Like I said, it is my blog and I make the rules. I love this cuz I can do what I want. Incidentally, I called home just before beginning to write this; I wanted to tell Susan this is what I had decided to do. I was NOT soliciting her input or advice no matter what you might think, but she did tell me she was good with the plan!
Tuesday was a busy day and though I want to put the autoclave update in later, I think it deserves discussion now. Peter McNamara, Hugh Potter, and Peter Dowell have literally been laying underneath the dang thing for the ENTIRE trip. Every once in a while they actually even try and work on the problem. (kidding here). Between them and Allorio (the Dominican Mr. Fixit guy) they have more gadgets, gauges, wire testers, tools, and gizmos than I have ever seen in my life. They test things, run new wires, re-wire, reroute and work through multitudes of challenges. They are on the phone with tech support all the time and have developed their own language around working on this thing. I originally reported to you that this was a heating element issue and we believed it to be just that. However, we have gone MILES beyond that. As it stand now after 6 full days of diagnosing and bird-dogging the only thing we are absolutely certain of is that it isn’t working. My heart goes out to Peter M who has put his heart and soul into the autoclave for 6 days and has to leave to go home tomorrow without having seen it work yet. He leaves tomorrow morning at 910AM and our best case scenario at this point is that it could be a fully operational (Star Wars reference) autoclave on Friday, the day after we finish up. While it would have been nice (and a lot less time consuming) if it were working for our week, it would be ok now if we could just see it work one time, even if that was on Friday after we finish up! It is a terrible shame to have the challenges we have been experienceing with a fix so close at hand. I am just hopeful now that the normal employees of Juan Bosh are able to use the autoclave to help improve the quality of the care they are delivering. Sterilization and instrumentation issues continue to slow us down. It would be great to fix this once and for all. I did have a discussion with Dr. Taveres today about potentially looking into some type of mobile autoclave similar to what the military might use in a mobile hospital. All options are being considered. Shannon Coupens and I would probably give away almost anything at this point to open a pan that a) has a turned indicator, b) has all of the instruments in it that are supposed to be there, and having an autoclave that is capable of turning over large quantities of instrumentation in a fairly quick timeframe. It does not feel like this is too much to ask for when doing such good work for people who are really benefitting from it.
As an aside, as I sit here and type this out somewhere in my room there is a frog that is croaking, a bullfrog of some sort that is doing that deep huimmmm huimmmm croak. I am not that unhappy about this though as the croaking is a bit less annoying than the disco right underneath my room at Hotel Rey. The sub-woofer pumping out the bass that in turn is vibrating and walking my bed across the floor is no match for the frog, at least the frog is a natural sound even though I am not sure I can get to sleep without knowing where the critter is so I can throw up some anti-frog protection essential oil or something…
Tuesday was a big OR day with 10 knees and 5 hips on the books, followed by 9 knees, 4 primary hips, and 2 hip revisions today. This gives us 45 cases for the week which is amazing! We have 14 on the books for tomorrow which will put us at 59 joints in 4 days in conditions that this type of volume is a challenge. But when you stop and think about nearly 60 joints, 60 people who are in dire need of these operations, the trickle-down effect is logarithmic and quality of life improves in ways we cannot imagine. The logistics involved in getting all of the needed supplies down here to do this is simply amazing! I counted today just for fun (and cuz I am sort of slightly OCD and more than a little weird) and excluding the actual instruments there were 36 different boxes of supplies that had to be picked and 76 different types of sterile supplies on the field. Incredible really. What is even more amazing is the (short) story of one of our hip patients.
This picture is of one of our patients who was ok with his picture but not his name being posted. What he said was “I have waited 33 years for this operation, it is a miracle”. I would like to point out that he said this SHORTLY AFTER his surgery to our Physical Therapist Natalie Reed, LPT. In general patients take a while to get over the effects of anesthesia, they aren’t comfortable, have some pain etc. I think it is easy to see that this gentlemen is not in pain (he is smiling) and that he feels like the ‘miracle’ of having a hip replacement is something he has needed for a really long time just happened to him and his family cuz of us and you Walkers! Hats off to all of you good folks and our team down here and at home! Job well done!
The aforementioned Dr. Taveres let me in on some plantanos lore today. I have described to you before the plantain dish called Mangoo which is basically mashed up plantains with olive oil and vinegar. The funny part is that the name Mangoo actually comes from the fact that the first American to try the dish tasted it and said “man, this is good” and with the language barrier issue(s) it was repeated as Mangoo. I was curious about this so I researched it this afternoon. What I found was that the first American person actually to try it spit it out and had MY reaction to the awful little green slimy buggers but that the plantanos lobbyists lobbied really hard against the name Mancrap! Speaking of food, today’s lunch offered by Ramona was some steamed Mangoo with a garden salad. So let me get this straight. My lunch option after hours and hours of running as fast as I can and sweating myself to near death due to dehydration was some goo and salad washed in sketchy water? Pass. While this may seem like a step up from the Mangoo and chicken skin soup we got last year, just the thought of eating a salad here sends me running for the powder room. Having an “I ate the freshly washed vegetables GI challenge is definitely a huge mistake and you’re asking for trouble ! Thankfully Wednesday is always peanut M&M day and this year I brought down 11 pounds of peanut M&M’s split into ¼ cup baggies by my Uncle who is visiting us. For those with inquiring minds, a ¼ cup of your standard size peanut M&M is about 19-23 M’s depending on M size. These little guys go a long way to cheering up everyone on Wednesday when energy levels seem to decline and though they take up precious weight in the luggage headed down, they have a near magical effect on our volunteers here. I must admit I ate two baggies…
We begin the process of packing up tomorrow while still trying to get our 14 cases done. Like always our team will begin to head off to the beach or back home (wherever that is). But there is a lot of work to be done. Thank you all again for what you do for us, it is truly inspiring. As always, thank you for the emails, my apologies for not answering them, maybe I will next week. I truly appreciate the kind works and the encouragement from all of you.
It is now almost 2AM with a 6AM wake up call. After 4 hours of sleep the last 2 nights I, like most of us, am getting pooped (and that isn’t even a plantain pun)! Before I go, I want to say thanks to all of you who have someone you love and miss over here. Their (and your) sacrifice awes me. Their (and your) service inspires me. Thank you to them and thank you to you!
It’s off to bed for me, but first, gotta go find that dang frog…