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Uganda Spine Surgery Mission – Day 7

UGANDA DAY 7
Dr. Lieberman’s alarm went off at 4:30am and he began prepping for his morning run. If you recall from our last couple blogs, Dr. Lieberman has been joined each morning on his runs by local 17 year old Joshua, for whom he supplied the resources, the day before, to buy new shoes after it was discovered the Ugandan’s shoes had no soles. Dr. Lieberman thought to himself one of two things is going to happen on todays run; either Joshua will show up with new Nike high top sneakers and completely run laps around me OR Joshua will show up with his entire family, all attempting to outrun the Doctor for a new pair of shows. As Dr. Lieberman arrived at the meeting spot, he discovered that he was COMPLETELY WRONG! Not only did Joshua have new shoes, but he even brought his entire village with him, 30 plus people! All of Joshua’s friends and families came out to thank Dr. Lieberman! They lined the sides of the dirt roads and cheered on the Doctor “thank you for training our brother!” It was a memorable moment for Dr. Lieberman to say the least.

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A quick breakfast (but not omelet hand-grabbing fast) and the team headed straight to the hospital. We only had one case today, so the team was excited to focus all resources and attention on the single patient!

Today’s patient was Jostos, a 27 year old male who farms for a living. He has a TB infection in the lower lumber that ate away at his L3 vertebral body. Justos is experiencing quite a bit of pain and discomfort, and it’s preventing him from doing his work.

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prior to surgery

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3b after surgery

Our neural monitor Kari was on hand to oversee the patient’s vitals and brain activity. It’s been an eventful week for Kari, with each case presenting it’s own difficulties and obstacles, ranging from outdated equipment to rolling power outages. Kari has been on her toes all weeks, adapting lightning quick to the challenges, and managing to keep the surgeons informed and up to date on all the patient’s vitals! Fortunately, after a week’s worth of cases we’ve figured out the kinks in the system and today’s case went as well as we could have asked for.
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The team wrapped up surgery around 1pm and packed up for the day. It’s the first afternoon off we’ve had in a week and everyone is excited to get back to the hotel for some rest and relaxation, but not without a quick stop at our favorite African Walmart first, the Nakumatt.
The team replenished inventory on our greatest necessities… Beer and chocolate! (do not get the impression that we drink a lot, we just do not trust the water and figure that the alcohol in the beer at least kills any gut wrenching bacteria)

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Dr. Lieberman and son used the time off nap. Dr. Hisey and son took a football (soccer ball) out to an adjacent field and kicked the ball around with some local kids. The rest of the team perched themselves on the patio, relaxing, enjoying the cool Ugandan evening, munching on some homemade (well hotel room made) guacamole.

The team reassembled and scuttled into the bus to head out for dinner, our favorite local restaurant the Agip Motel. We were joined by Alex Kerner, the son of Elizabeth Kerner, plastic surgeon and former teammate, as well as his friend Savannah, a Manhattanite spending a year in Uganda as part of Elizabeth Glaser pediatric AIDS foundation. We were also greeted by Michelle White, a physical therapist from South Africa who is coming on board to assist patients with post-op exercise regimens and routines. She is a welcomed member to the team as physical therapy for post-op is almost nonexistent in Uganda. We are confident her contributions will be invaluable in helping the patients rehabilitate and get back to a healthy and productive life!

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We have a two way tie today for quote of the day, both coming from our dinner at Agip Motel.

Upon entering the restaurant and seeing our table, Kari remarked “you know you’re at the fanciest restaurant in Uganda when they have a pepper grinder.”

Out next quote came from Josh. Throughout dinner the team kept hearing a “buzzer” noise coming from next door. The team joked that they must be shooting an episode of Jeopardy out back, to which Josh replied “I’ll take “what meat am I eating” for 1 million shillings”

To support the Uganda Spine Surgery Mission visit: http://www.ugandaspinesurgerymission.com

Texas Back Institute