Today was our final day at Selian hospital. We had a rough start to the morning as our driver had a flat tire on the way to pick us up, and we ended up needing taxi our way to Selian. After a late start to our day, we toured and visited the patients who had surgery the day before. We had two surgeries today to perform. The first was the separation of the child with Syndactyl hand. Steve took his time to map out and ensure he had enough skin to cover his incisions, and I was very grateful he explained and taught so well.

Our second surgery was a tibial fracture repair. We had some trouble figuring out how to prop the leg, as here in Tanzania they do not have the same slings and wedges to prop the leg in the appropriate position for surgery.  Steve had a great idea then, to use textbooks we found in a shelf to prop up the patients leg and Gayle rolled a bunch of surgical gowns and put on the top of the books.  They then put a plastic bag and sterile sheet over it and we bundled the books together with tape, and then covered them with a plastic bag. It worked quite well and both surgeries today were successful.

My most memorable patient was one who had a massive ovarian cyst (approx. 30 lbs worth) removed the day before. This 60 year old woman suffered for years with extreme pain. Her abdomen almost looked like she was 9 months pregnant. I could not believe it when I heard that her firm, distended abdomen was actually an ovarian cyst that had grown so large it was making her jaundice as it pressed on her bile duct and liver.

Steve said that he will never judge a surgery done in a third world country again, because these people are doing the best that they can with what they have. From the very beginning where we were scrambling to find a prop for the patients leg, to Steve hoping and praying that his screws and plates were going the places he wanted them as x-ray is not available immediately like they are in the States. But in the end, we know that doing something and getting these people a surgery is more important than having the perfect pristine procedure like we aim for in the United States. Our goal here is often to save these people’s lives, and offer them the best quality of life we can manage with the tools that we have.

Lynn and Alinda were amazed once again as to how extraordinary the hospice team here in Arusha is. These people serve with true passion and care for their people which truly makes a difference in the care they provide. They strongly advocate for every patient they care for, and do the best they absolutely can with what they have. One case that really struck them today was their first one. It was a 22 year old mother with 3 young kids all under the age of 6. They hadn’t eaten in over 24 hours, and her husband is currently stuck in the hospital because they can’t pay the very large hospital bill. He fell off a telephone pole 2 years ago and was paralyzed, and has slowly been regaining arm function back and battling terrible wounds on his legs. The hospice team got involved with them this summer when the community contacted them because they were very concerned about the family’s wellbeing, and the husband was readmitted to the hospital. We were able to give them our big bags of food and pray with them, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room as they fervently prayed to the Lord for help and healing. Hope Ministries will also be paying for more meals for them so that the mother can try to start paying off the growing hospital bill and have her husband come back home.

The other cases were equally hard, one of which was a mother and 13 year old child who both had HIV. The young girl was born with HIV because her mother had it, but because she and her mother have been good about sticking to the medication schedule. The hospice team said that easily 50% of the patients they see are ones with HIV, but the biggest killer with it is the stigma around it and patients then stop their medications. It was amazing to see the way that the hospice team cared for them physically, emotionally, psycho socially, and spiritually.

Thank you again for your prayers and support!