Postcards from the Field - Papua New Guinea

Postmark July 21, 2015

Postmark July 21, 2015

Fueled by the days happenings I went to bed trying to write in my journal and accidentally fell asleep with the lights on. This didn't really matter, as the power went out reliably. Today we resumed our patient screening. Dr. Agnes and Dr. Alison went to the OT, while Dr. Ben, Dr. Maggie and I stayed out to see the patients in clinic. Terryleen and I were doing the preoperative and post operative counseling and preparations. At one point we were on patient number 14 and as I was consenting him for surgery, he asked me if we could do the surgery for his brother first “to see how it goes”. I looked at him in disbelief. Well, he said, it is a custom in our culture to have the older brother go first. How old is your brother? Turned out his twin brother came to the camp a bit later and was given the number 74. Although I knew there was a real possibility we might not be able to give him another chance, I had to cancel his surgery. Canceling a case in the middle of the morning meant we had no one ready for Alison and Agnes for at least a half an hour, but at the same time, a young patient with a conjunctival mass was being seen in the clinic. We had been trying to figure out when to do his biopsy later in the week and where to send it (there is no pathologist in this province). The decision was easy to make... we biopsy him now, send him for “Slims disease” testing later and either drop off the pathology at Goroka, or take it with us, whichever is faster and more reliable. To not slow the flow in the clinic, I quickly changed to OT gear and Alison changed out and prepared the next patient for sling surgery. In the end, we did well and finished 16 procedures.

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