Revolutionizing Spine Care…Changing Lives

Uganda Mission – Day 6, 7 and 8

Aug 14 & 15, 2010

The weekend, Day 6 & 7

Saturday we started with a ward round seeing the patients. Thankfully all were doing well. Naturally they were not enthused to see me especially when it came to changing the dressings. There is no way to comfortably take a bandage off a 3 year old child.  This tends to be a good cop, bad cop scenario. I strip the dressing then the team with their smiling faces and lollipops, cleanse and dress the wound. Two of the children were ready to go home on Saturday!

From the hospital we loaded up the van and went on a “Voyage of Discovery:. The goal for the day was to deliver the goods.  A colleague from Dallas had sent two boxes of supplies for her cousin who lives in Icanga, and  I had been in communication with a local Rabbi who had requested a Bris Milah kit (circumcision kit). After a grueling 3 ½ hour drive we arrived in Icanga to meet with the Winkler family, Mat, Sherrie, 6 children and an assortment of animals. Mat is a Baptist church “planter” whose stated mission is to “ensure that all end up in heaven”. We were welcomed into their home and treated to a wonderful lunch of Mexican style taco’s accompanied by a forthright discussion on the virtues of religion, politics and human nature.

Despite the hospitality we begged our leave to journey on further north. On the way I made the executive decision to take a small detour (2 hours) to see the peak of Mt Elgon and the Sipi Falls. On any other trip this would have been the highlight, however with the preceding and forthcoming visits the beauty of the cloud covered peak of Mt Elgon was virtually all but forgotten to us.

We arrived in the presumed area of the village only to find out that we were in the vicinity but still had to follow a “Boda Boda” (motorbike taxi) over 3-5 miles of muddy trails to get to his site, after a seeming eternity we drove into a compound of huts that were recognizably Jewish. Menorahs and David’s Star painted on the walls or fabricated into the iron work windows seemed entirely appropriate below the grass thatched roofs.

On arrival we were greeted by Shera, the rabbi’s wife, and countless children. Unfortunately the rabbi was summoned away to a funeral and would not be back. We later met with the members of the community including the Chazan and the emeritus rabbi “Abraham” (presumed to be about 60 years), they invited us to stay for the Havdallah ceremony (marking the end of the Sabbath) which we graciously accepted. The ceremony was moving, inspiring and challenging all at once. Here we are in the middle of Africa, listening to a community of individuals struggling to survive as “orthodox jews”, who described to us how they split off from the conservative jews of Abudaguya. Who have absolutely nothing but a paper Torah in a makeshift “aron kodesh” (the Torah ark) and the deep desire to be recognized as jews.

Much to the communities chagrin as they had expected us to stay over, and as it was already late and we faced at least  5 hour drive back to Kampala we once again begged our leave. The irony of it all was that the treacherous drive seemed far more inviting than a night spent in the mud huts.

The day was tremendous, as diverse as our team is. We all still individually in our own way experienced something new in relation to the extremes of human ideology and dedication to cause. From the Baptist church planter on a mission to lead all on a path to heaven, to the Jewish community struggling to be recognized as orthodox.

In the wake of Saturday’s experience we set out on yet another mission. We did first go to the hospital to see the patients. N.R. our 14 year old scoli case was doing remarkably well. Her x-rays revealed a tremendous correction of her curve, as stoic as she was while I stripped off her bandages her uncle on the other hand was not that comfortable with me being the bad cop. As the bandage came off her incision he rolled his eyes and promptly hit the ground. The good news is all he suffered was a bruised ego.

The mission of the day was to visit the equator, buy the usual “Afrikan Chachkes”, visit the “crocodile center” and have a relaxing day. At the Equator village we met Tom, a church volunteer in Uganda for a 12 month mission to help restore and maintain orphanages. After a few Tusker Ale’s it was clear that Tom is a newly leaning republican, and after the harrowing drive back to Kampala we all realized the day was not as relaxing as anticipated.

August 16, 2010

Day 8

Eventful night, despite our best efforts to stick to bottled water 2 team members are down, or is it better termed up and down?  They did get through the night and we will see how the day progresses.

Today’s surgery is on a 3 year old FLK male with presumed TB, treated with antibiotics over 1 year ago and has been left with a hunched spine and difficulty walking. I am suspicious of the diagnosis as the spine x-rays just do not look like old TB. He also has an enlarged head consistent with hydrocephalus. We will know for sure once I am there.

We will be operating with Dr Tendo as our anesthesiologist today as Dr Emmanuel could not get back from Mbrarra on time. I have worked with him in the past and he is every bit as good!

Stage 1 went very well, anterior release of L12 and the L23 discs, the ALL was actually tethered tight, no evidence of TB what so ever, looks like a congenital kyphosis.

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