Revolutionizing Spine Care…Changing Lives

Uganda Spine Surgery Mission Trip 2017 – Day 2

Day 2: Let’s Get Started!

One thing about working as or working with a doctor is in the early mornings; there’s no such thing as sleeping in when there’s stuff to do. So, 5:00 AM rolled up, and some of us got up to head to a pilates class held by Dr. Lieberman, while some of us could barely muster the strength to get out from under the covers of the bed.
6:30 AM came up, and those of us who couldn’t get up finally had to; everyone was showering, changing into scrubs, and heading towards breakfast before we made our way towards the hospital to begin the work we came here for. The food was warm, and the tea sweet; a perfect thing to wake up to. Thus, we all regrouped, ate, and left towards the hospital.

We arrived and immediately got to work. While half of us split to prep the operating room, the doctors and I went to view a few patients in the private ward. Of the four patients seen here, two had surgery proposed, and one accepted; a man by the name of Denis, who had Tuberculosis that had developed into Pott’s Disease, which is when the TB is seen outside the lungs and present in the vertebrae (bones of the spine) However, due to inflammation or swelling from this, he is unable to walk and completely bedridden, but we expect him to quickly recover, and with a few days time, once again walk.

With these patients seen, we split into two teams; Dr. Lieberman, Dr. Gorlick, and I (Adam) all headed to the clinic to meet all the patients, while the rest traveled to the operating room for the case.
The clinic was quite an experience, seeing so many patients, each with their own, unique story and situation. Maybe patient A had scoliosis from birth, while patient B had scoliosis from old age, but each was in a situation to avoid surgery through exercise. Some were young, others old. No one was the same. The three of us quickly figured out a routine within clinic; I acted as the scribe, recording vital information, Dr. Lieberman examined, and Dr. Gorlick assisted with filling in the information I was unable to get, as well as handing out suckers to our younger patients.
After a few hours of clinic, we briefly stepped out to check on the others in surgery, and as a reason to stretch our legs on our way to a short call. The three of us arrived to see the case in progress, halfway completed, with not a single problem. The TB was being cleaned out, and the fusion was all moving smoothly along. We chatted shortly about a few things; the case in progress, cases we hoped to do in the next few days, dinner and headed back to resume our work.
Clinic continued on, with us doing our best to provide care and options to each patient; men and women, boys and girls, we saw everyone. Notes were taken on each patient; One girl has macrodactyly, or really big toes, in addition to back problems. Another girl has a mass on the back that needs to be removed and analyzed. And with every patient that wanted one, a lollypop was handed out. And, with every lollypop came the same smile. Once the surgery on Denis was completed, a second room to examine patients in the clinic was opened with Dr. Perry and Dr. Huang running it, and we continued on.

At the end of the day, a grand total of 79 patients were seen in the clinic, with additional 4 in the private ward, and another 9 seen in the neurological ward, for a grand total of 92. Three of those cases were chosen for surgery the following day.

We packed up and returned to the hotel to discuss more surgical plans over dinner. Who needed what and when? Could it wait for a year? Did we also have all the equipment necessary? Cases were thought upon, and names set up over a warm dinner of chicken, fish, pasta, and rice. At the end of the night, happy with the food in our stomachs and the decisions made, sleep called back to us.

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