Today is going to be of an update blog. I know I haven’t posted anything in a week, so here goes nothing:
Hospital updates: Ponseti (casting method to gradually fix clubfoot without invasive surgeries.) clinic opened Monday, Sept 7th. Our team will be teaching the locals how to perform this method and run the clinic. Legacy, legacy, legacy. Also, our dental team officially opened the dental clinic in town and began procedures. THE FIRST SURGERY! General surgeries started Tuesday, Sept 8th with great excitement. MaxFax (maxillofacial) surgeries started Wednesday, Sept 9th. OBF (obstetric fistula) repair surgeries began! Next week, September 22nd we open an OBF clinic in town that will sustain the work we’ve started- with a coalition with the Freedom from Fistula Foundation. Legacy, legacy, legacy.
General surgeries can be hernia repairs, simple growth removals etc.
MaxFax or the ones that grab media attention the quickest- large facial tumors.
OBF…If you’re reading this, you probably don’t know a single woman affected by an obstetric fistula. It has been all but eradicated in the developed world. Instead of retyping a definition, let me direct you to this link: https://www.fistulafoundation.org/what-is-fistula/
These women…sigh…have literally been through hell. And over the last 48 hours I have finally had the opportunity to start work on the wards–specifically the ward caring for these ladies. I’ve been educated to the social realities they face prior to all this, but reading out of my patient’s chart that she: labored for days, lost a child (or children), has lived with continuous incontinence (fecal or urinary), was abandoned by her husband because she can’t give him children, became depressed etc… I struggled to withhold tears as I read each of my patient’s charts while sitting at the foot of their bed. The stories didn’t seem like they could possibly be real. How could life be this cruel? How could people be this cruel? Before you all burst into heaving sobs, let me just say this: A candle shines brighter in a dark room. The Africa Mercy has come to bring hope. God’s favorite solution to the world’s problems is not lightning bolts or solo divine intervention. God’s method is a man. God has moved in the heart of man to bring his supernatural hope, peace, love, and healing to the nations. It has been amazing to see the patients’ interactions from admission to postop. They discover that they are accepted. They are in loving community. We have amazing male and female daycrew from Madagascar that work alongside us to help with daily activities and translation. It interesting to see how valuable men AND women are to this healing process. The women band together and encourage one another–as God intended. These patients start to find value and purpose in community again. In addition to that, these women have suffered abandonment by the gender God intented to “guard and care” for women. So to have a man from your culture look you in the eye, joke with you, and treat you as a human being again–it seems too good to be true. The process is slower for some, but it is amazing to see the transformation on a woman’s face when she is able to let down her guard and be wholly feminine.
I feel that I am doing a terrible job of describing this transformation. Please just understand that it is incredible and holistic. What good would we have done if we repaired the fistula, but never mended the heart. Yesterday concluded my last orientation
Last week in market I purchases a beautiful long skirt that I cannot wait to wear–to the Dress Ceremony! Recovery is about 2 weeks for these ladies. So in about that time frame, I will attempt to attend a discharge ceremony that involves getting the ladies dolled up in brand new CLEAN dresses…and lots of singing and dancing. 🙂 Above is a photo from one of last year’s dress ceremonies in Madagascar 1.
I could talk about those women forever. Oh! There’s a book ya’ll should check out- Hospital by the River by Catherine Hamlin.
Moving on, ahhh!
So. Some of you may know. I LOVE crazy, gross, complicated wounds. (Sitting in orientation for my first nursing job, I met a Wound Care Coordinator. And I fell in love…with her job.) As a result of the complex plastic surgery patients we have (release of burn contractures involves harvesting of “donor skin” as well as a “graft site”), the Plastics patients have their dressings changed by a Dressing Team comprised of 4-5 nurses. I just happened to mention my love of wounds to my Team Leader during orientation (thinking the dressing team was already formed)…on September 10th she casually interviewed me (because of my interest and my willingness to potentially extend beyond my 4 month commitment)…on September 14th I was welcomed to the Dressing Team! I cannot tell you just how excited I am to be a part of the team! The Plastic surgeon arrives this coming Sunday and surgeries begin Monday!!! Whoot! Until then, I’ll be working on the general surgery ward and making frequent visits to my OBF ladies 🙂 We colored mosaics yesterday. Maybe nail polish tonight!
Anyways…I know that was messy and poorly organized, but I wanted to get you all up to speed 🙂 I spent last weekend at a beach hotel (pictures coming), so blogging did not even cross my mind. New post coming soon though!