Revolutionizing Spine Care…Changing Lives

Uganda Spine Surgery Mission2017 – Day 4

Day 4: Now Begins the Long Days

One of the simple pleasures of this trip thus far has been having breakfast together every morning; Eggs, maybe French toast, sausage, tomatoes and tea. We laugh every morning and simply enjoy everyone’s company before we begin the work we came here to do.

Wednesday. We’ve finally completed the two days of clinics, seeing everyone in the clinic, sending some for new x-rays and MRIs so we could reassess them, and setting up the surgery schedule. Wednesday is when it picked up; four cases. Fusions, decompressions, revisions, and a neurosurgery case for a brain tumor; from this day to the end of the week, long days of surgery are planned.

Dr. Huang and I go on our rounds to check on our patients, with Natasha, a local general surgery resident assisting us in locating our post-operative patients in the wards and ICU [Intensive Care Unit]. We began with the three patients who had surgery the prior day; Medius, Godson, and Julius. Medius was doing well, and was able to stand up with some assistance, and take a few steps, however, she complained of a little discomfort. Godson was doing slightly better than before, as he complained of significant discomfort and pain, and was unable to stand at the time of us doing our rounds. Julius was doing well and told us of some discomfort from his surgery as well. The discomfort from every surgery is to be expected, as these are all major surgeries, and some irritation and pain are always anticipated.

Once finished, Dr. Huang and I make our way to the OR for today’s cases, which are already in progress. By the time our arrival in the OR, Dr. Perry had already finished the decompression on a woman named Norah, and was preparing for her neurosurgical case to relieve the pressure on the brain. He would do a biopsy on a brain tumor to determine truly what the tumor is. Dr. Huang quickly went to join them, while I headed to the other operating room (We had two rooms running at once to try and help get more cases done). Inside the second room, with Dr. Lieberman, they were performing a fusion on a gentleman named Bernard, who also had TB. Both cases going on at this point, the biopsy and the fusion, took many hours to complete.

During the hours these cases took place, I rotated between the two rooms, checking on everyone, but spent most of my time in the neurosurgery case, watching how it took place, and the tools used. The thing that stood out the most from this case, excluding the fact that it was neurosurgical, was the scope used. It differed greatly from the ones used in the States, and took some time to set up, adjust and prep. The case itself, however, went smoothly. In fact, all the cases went exceptionally smoothly, they were just taxing in terms of length.

We had a short time between cases to rest and grab a bite from the food provided by Sister Rose; warm bread and samosas. It was a fast lesson to everyone that the samosas should be consumed quickly before I could get to them, as I’d easily eat six or seven (and I had!). It was during this time though, when we glanced at Brian, that we had once again noted he tore his pants. Once, we could tolerate, but twice only proves that Brian has no inhibitions!

The last case was a revision on previous instrumentation done elsewhere that had not fused to the bone on a woman named Medias K. Her case, like the others went smoothly, as anticipated the screws and rods had worked their way loose and were simply lifted out of the surgical wound. It’s important to note, that instrumentation is not often removed, and should not come out in one piece, but should be disassembled.

The day ended at close to 9:15 PM, and eight fatigued men and women all piled into the bus very satisfied with the days accomplishments. Dr. Gorlick, being the intelligent man that he is, had called ahead and ordered the buffet for us; Chicken, fish, pasta, vegetables, and potatoes. Let me tell you, there isn’t much better than arriving at the place you’re staying, and knowing there’s warm, delicious food waiting for you. We ate, laughed, shared our lessons of the day, enjoying the food and everyone’s company once more.

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