- A girl with NOMA (a flesh-eating disease that is usually a result of poor nutrition and a decreased immune system after something like measles) where it had basically eaten a hole out from her mouth through the cheek. The surgeons pulled the temporal muscle from her scalp down and created a new cheek for her.
- A 9 month-old baby girl who got surgery for her cleft lip. A donor has sponsored her to be able to travel to Sierra Leone in 2011 for surgery to correct her cleft palate. At least now she can eat properly and she will get her palate corrected just about the time she'll start talking. Older children who get cleft palate surgery often have to undergo intense speech therapy.
- A young child had fallen into a fire several years ago (burns from fires are responsible for 61% of injuries to children <5 here in Africa) and her hand was permanently flexed backwards as a result of the new skin drawing taut across the wound as it healed. The surgeon cut the scar tissue and contractures at the back of her wrist and she had a split level skin graft (SLSG) from her thigh. Her hand was in a split to keep the hand level with the forearm until the graft healed and she started therapy for her hand. Her thigh will take a year to fully heal and for the skin to return to its coffee-brown color.
- A young man with a facial tumor that all stemmed from tooth enamel cells that went wild. If he didn't get surgery when he did a few months ago, he would have been dead by now... from either starvation or suffocation.
*if I want to be a PT in Africa, I'm gonna see a lot of wounds, blood, and nasty dressing changes. Maybe I can't fully forget about my acute PT observation experiences last summer!
*some of what Mercy Ships does is a matter of life and death... and a race against time!
Yesterday Caitlin and I made two types of mocha pecan cookies; we're starting to test recipes for a huge function on July 28th where there will be quite a few government officials and other NGO representatives. The hospitality galley is rather small and two is about the right number of cooks in that kitchen! We had tons of dishes to wash and as I dried and put them away I asked her about her plans when she got home, if there was a guy in her life, and if she ever thought about coming back to Mercy Ships. That started a great 45-minute long conversation in which she turned those same questions back on me. :)
*if you want someone to ask you what's going on in your life... ask them first. Chances are, they're probably in the same boat as you. (OK, not literally!)
*wear an oven mitt when you're squeezing a pastry bag full of just-melted chocolate in an attempt to create fine drizzles of chocolate across the tops of the cookies. Little blisters all over your right hand really is not fun!
I was starved because I hadn't really eaten breakfast (it was homemade croissants and I really don't need that much butter!) or lunch because I was feeling pretty sick. I ordered a "pizza," the only thing on the menu that I could translate and semi-understand! :) It was OK, but the ice cream afterwards was pretty epic! One scoop each of menthe/chokolat (mint chocolate chip) and chokolat (chocolate).
I caught the shuttle back a while later and then sat in the dining room and ate a mango and chatted with the night nurses who were taking a coffee break. They were all talking about the side effects of all the different anti malaria meds, sticking people's AC veins with a 16-gauge needle to draw blood, and cutting up a 17 kilo (40 pounds) tumor so it could be incinerated. Ah... good stuff! I don't mind hearing about it and I really want to see some of the pictures. But I DO NOT LIKE IT IN PERSON!
*make sure someone in your group can at least read a French menu.
*maybe all those blood vessels of the digestive system that I had to memorize was kind of worth it. At least I understood that when Allison (an OR nurse) talked about clamping off the omentum vessels that the patient had an abdominal/uterine tumor. :)
*taking Doxycycline long term is not a good idea. As a pretty strong antibiotic/anti malaria med it kills all your good GI bacteria... and with no fresh dairy on board it's almost impossible to get that bacteria back... hence my almost-constant low grade stomach ache and diarrhea. But here in Togo cerebral malaria is fairly prevalent... not the kind of malaria you want to take a chance of getting!