Sunday, September 28, 2008

Just Another Uneventful Day In Honduras!

Valeria Miller, RN & Dr. Yeu-Tsu Margaret Lee were still sound asleep in their beds after working until 3:15 AM Saturday morning with the one team of local, Choluteca, dedicated nurses and CRNAs who stayed to help.

Dr. Margaret Lee is on the left (the short one) and Val Miller is on the right. (the tall one)

Everything seemed to be going well, at least in my dream, when all the niceness was interrupted by a call from a frustrated Dr. Chung. "No one speaks English here and I want to get started and there are no sterile gowns and, and, and ....." I immediately knew that it was to be one more uneventful day of surgery in Honduras. Dr. Chung was at the hospital chomping at the bit to start surgeries at 7:00 AM but it was not to be. The surgical gowns (photo above) didn't arrive clean and sterile until almost 11:00 AM. Dr. Chung was alert and ready to go, because he had returned to the hotel at 7:00 PM where the other surgeon could take her turn in the OR.

Due to one uncooperative local CRNA we were relegated to one surgery room and one team of surgeons the afternoon and evening on Thursday and Friday and it looked like Saturday was shaping up to be similar.

We were able to accomplish one surgery before lunch break on Friday, at which time the CRNA announced that she was taking a one hour lunch. I pleaded with Albertina Cruz to help, but she flatly refused. With no patience left and ready for a fight, instead of fighting, I did the next best thing and called the hospital director and reported her. The head nurse was sent to make a written report and the war was on. Albertina had refused to help the day before and we were way behind on the surgeries which we had promised to perform. Patients were losing patience! ... and so were we.

When the head nurse came and Doña Albertina realized that I was making a written report of her actions, or lack thereof, she walked out of the hospital NEVER to return. She left her post. She didn't talk to anyone, she just left. This is a HUMAN RIGHTS violation in Honduras, because she was the CRNA on duty for emergencies.

Evidently Albertina had been a bit of a problem since the beginning of her time at the hospital, but no one was willing to face the wrath of Albertina so they all walked around on eggshells and no one said anything. As I was writing my report with the head nurse, several of the nurses walked by and gave me the thumbs up sign and I was instantly a hero among her co-workers. All of the sudden, nurses and CRNAs who were NOT on duty began to show up to help. Albertina stuck her head out the door and I pointed to her with my finger and said, "She is the one."

Anyway, back to Saturday, when the telephone rang, it was almost 10:00 AM. I jumped out of bed, quickly ate my cold breakfast which I am sure was wonderful at the time when it was ready to eat at 7:00 AM. By the time I woke the other team members, the ones that had worked late, we were on schedule to arrive at the hospital a little before 11:00 AM. When we arrived the surgery gowns were STILL not clean and sterile from the night before. But, they arrived shortly thereafter and a frustrated Dr. Chung was able to get to work.

Everything went well after that until about 5:30 PM when we had a torrential rainfall and the entire OR flooded. Dr. Chung was a "trooper" and in the midst of all the water, he finished the surgery and then we unplugged all of the electrical cords in the OR. Dr. Chung worked perched on top of a wooded box as he used the cautery machine and finished the thyroid surgery.

Val and a local nurse then moved the patient to the flooded recovery room, photo on the left and then we all started cleaning up the mess.

Dr. Chung grabbed a broom and started working. For almost an hour we all cleaned and took photos of course.

When all of the water was finally out, I called a supper break and we left for the hotel to eat, while the floors were sanitized where we could start work again after supper.

We all arrived at the hotel, soaked to the bone, shoes wet, socks wet, pants bottoms wet and we were all tired, but exhilarated from all the excitement.

Dr. Charles Chung below, showing his broom expertise!

Sometimes I laugh when think about the differences in Mike and I. Mike would not have done very well in this particular situation. There were too many variables. Mike is Mr. Schedule, so the late surgical gowns would have driven him crazy. Mike is Mr. Plan Ahead, so the lack of having a backup plan in case of a flood would have driven him to drink. But the chances of a flood were so slim, who would have thought that you would need a backup plan.

Meanwhile, I laughed and waded through the situation along with my adventurous friends.

God makes each one of us different and I know that I am called to be here in Honduras living adventure after adventure, because I thrive on making sense out of the chaos.

When there is a crisis, I seem to be at my best. Many years ago I learned NOT to pray for patience, because the Bible says that tribulation makes us learn patience. I am not a fan of tribulation, so I don't pray for patience. However, I have learned through the tribulation which has passed my way unexpectedly that we can be happy and make the best of bad situations or we can grumble and complain and lose our chance to be blessed.

Dr. Yeu-Tsu Margaret Lee and Val Miller, RN smiling in the midst of our trial. Booties wet and no longer sterile, shoes wet, socks wet and still smiling!

I was taking the photo! SMILING of course!

Romans 5:3 but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

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