It seems as if every year God clearly shows us the reason why we are here. That happened yesterday. It was our first day of surgery and we had a full schedule-5 cases in the major theater and 1 in the minor theater-so there is no way we could take any additional surgeries for that day. On top of that, surgeries keep the docs in the OR so we cannot see many new patients to evaluate for surgery.
But yesterday, despite all of that, Doug was consulted by a family with a 12-year-old girl that, according to an ultra sound, had an abdominal cystic mass. This is normally benign and asymptomatic, except for causing some abdominal distention. When he examined Faudhia, her pulse was 148 and her respirations were 36. These are seriously bad numbers. One of our team happened to walk in to Doug's exam room when he was making notes on her chart and he remarked that he was really worried. The young girl had extreme pain, both on depressing and releasing pressure, which would indicate a problem far more serious than a cystic mass. Doug was very worried and wanted to do surgery asap, which he knew meant the following day IF we could get lab results in time. In past years, we had been able to get lab results in about an hour. However, Mazimbu’s machine is broken this year and they have been sending the blood samples to the main hospital campus, Sua, just a few miles away.
So, if Sua has the same machine, why the longer wait for results? It seemed a consultation with the head of the lab, David Mwanuka, was the logical next step. Well, it turns out the delay in results is due to a transportation issue. The hospital only has one transport--the single ambulance--and it goes to Sua once a day, at middday, delivering new samples and picking up results from the previous delivery. We asked if WE could send a driver over to Sua with the sample and wait for the results. Sure, no problem. So that is what we did. We had results back by 4 pm and started her surgery at 5 pm. And it is a very good thing we did. Faudhia had a ruptured appendix, which, by the timing of the onset of pain and swelling, we think ruptured 4 days ago. Her abdomen was completely full of pus—2 liters--and other nasty stuff. Had we not been able to do surgery until the following day, Doug thinks she may not have survived overnight. And this morning when we arrived for work and checked on her, she was awake and alert and smiling in bed. Praise God!
After our long day on Wednesday, we enjoyed dinner out under the stars at one of our favorite restaurants, The Arc Hotel.
Moving to today, the line of patients waiting on our arrival was substantially longer that the previous two days. And, again, Doug was booked in the OR with four procedures so his time in clinic would be minimal. It became clear very quickly that the patients waiting would be all that could be seen today—we could not take any additional that may come for services. That is always very hard for us, as Americans, to turn away people that are seeking help. And of the thirty-one patients that we registered, most had to wait five or six hours to see the doctor—some even longer. Our last patient was seen at 6:45 pm. But Tanzanians are willing to wait patiently for as long as it takes. Something we, as Americans, would never accept.