Tuesday January 9, 2018, Chasing Water…
First things first, I got a call a few minutes ago asking if we were ok with the earthquake that happened. Honestly, none of us were aware that there was an earthquake and we are all good.
So in all truthfulness it is actually Wednesday for us here now in the DR. After a very full day today many of us got back to Hotel Rey tonight after 11PM, after a meal, a couple of el Presidente’s, and a shower it is now 12:30ish AM with a 6AM wake up call. For all of you who are time zone challenged the DR is 4 hours ahead of Portland. My apologies for not blogging last night as I also had a similar return time, I was weary and needed some shut eye. The good news is we are absolutely CRUSHING it! With the addition of a 5th surgeon this year we opened a 5th room and are doing more cases than ever, so I am delighted to tell you that all of our team has arrived and we are operating (pun intended) at full capacity! Our surgery count as of tonight is 28 cases performed! Because of your generosity and our 5th room we are ahead of any previous year and are looking to set a record!
Remember when I told you that the weather was wet early on but that was changing and we expected nice weather for the rest of our week? It should come as no surprise that the weather people here are as good as they are in the states and it has poured rain here for the last two days. It has been hot and muggy, very humid, lots of surgery and after the day and brief night I have had, chasing water comes to mind.
Because of the rain and the infrastructure at the hospital, we spent a lot of time dodging drips and leaks from the ceiling as well as buckets and other water catchers on the floor. Every few hours we are able to get a cherished 30 seconds to drink some H20, and here at Hotel Rey my shower has been leaking since my arrival. At home we have a water feature in the back yard and I enjoy going to sleep listening to the water rush from it. Here at Hotel Rey, it is somewhat less calming to listen to the sounds of dripping water. The hot water in Hotel Rey is generally hit or miss. Taking a shower is more of a masterpiece of aquatic harmony; turning the hot water tap on and getting scalding water and/or an energetic sequence causing just enough lukewarm water to be able to soap up and rinse off. When the water cycles hot you turn the cold on a touch and also to save from being burned then you wash real fast with tolerably warm water which quickly turns cold, so you turn the cold tap off and have a few seconds before the scalding starts all over again. Fortunately no matter what the temperature, the flow from the shower head is just enough to dribble onto your toes and it is more of a sponge bath experience than an all-out shower. The length of time needed is twice the normal because you have to do a LOT more work to actually get clean. Still, after a long days’ work at Juan Bosch hospital, nothing feels so good like a great day helping people, changing lives and then getting a dribble shower to wash away the sweat of your efforts! On the other hand, I am looking forward to a nice hot steamy shower once back in the US.
Tomorrow is a special day. Dr. Vessely has a patient that all of us down here have been thinking about. This patient is a 20-year-old young man with sickle cell anemia which has caused severe damage to one of his hips. As if this weren’t challenging enough, this patient is also blind. He was able to take care of himself but because of his debilitating hip pain and limited movement has had to move back in with his parents. Right or wrong, he feels like he is a burden to them and that he is unable to make it on his own or even contribute to the family. After tomorrow, because of your donations and generosity and the ability for our team to be here he will have a brand new hip and be back on the road; living his life in a way that is meaningful to him and helpful to his parents and brothers and sisters. In short, he stated that he feels like he has begun a journey of ‘recovering his life’. When we spoke of this, his phrasing really struck me. It wasn’t that he said he was going to be able to walk pain free or that he would be able to move about and be independent, it was that he was going to ‘recover his life’. I don’t know about you, but to me that is profound and worth every single second of getting back to the hotel at 11+PM after working for 16 hours, dodging buckets and drips, and getting nothing but your toes wet in the shower! What our patient doesn’t know is that after looking at his x-rays and seeing that he will require a very small implant that we have very few of, before even our first surgery I went and hid away the implants he will most likely need to ensure we would still have them available for his operation and that we would definitely be able to do his surgery. I am excited for him and for his future and look forward to catching up with him next year and seeing how things have changed for him!
In the meantime, I really didn’t have time for lunch today but curiosity always get the best of me. I did steal out to the lunchroom around 4pm or so to see what was cooking. Ramona had done a really nice thing and saved some grub for me. I was famished and was hopeful that today would be my day. Imagine my delight when I opened my little condensation filled styrofoam box of delight and saw a huge pile of hash browns with melted cheese all over them and a big old chunk of bacon! BACON! AND CHEESE! How amazing is that? I had worked all day without eating or even stopping really and I was being rewarded for all of my efforts with two of human kinds best foods, bacon and cheese! YUM I thought as I grabbed a spoon, GRUMBLE my stomach went as it began realizing its incoming feast, YAY went my brain as I determined whether to gobble quickly of savor slowly and BLAT, PHLOOK, BRGMNTHBGD went my taste buds! The ‘hash-browns’ were grated plantain that had turned yellow with age and only APPEARED to be cheese and the bacon turned out to be ‘salam’ which is mostly gristle and fat. My jaw actually sprung open in reverberation of the chewiness. I never could find any way to get a satisfying morsel to munch on. SPLAT went my plate when it hit the bottom of the can after I had left Ramona’s sight. DANG went my brain when it realized that the pretense of bacon and cheese was over, slammed with the travesty of sham bacon and a mockery of hash-browns was realized! Still though, it is worth it, tomorrow awaits and with the day comes another changed life. This one a twenty-year old who will get to start something which most of us take for granted. Thank you to all of you who make this trip possible. I will never be able to truly help you understand what a difference you make, what a difference tomorrow will hold for our next patient.
Finally, thanks to those of you who have written and sent text messages for all the well wishes! My apologies for not returning most of the texts and emails. Please accept my apologies, I will catch up with you on the flip side after our week here. Thanks again!
"Movement is life, freedom, and independence."
-Dr. Paul Duwelius, Founder of Freedom to Move