...This post is another highly graphic one consisting of blood, bones, needles, and power tools. Consider yourself appropriately warned. Another post will come on the heels of this one and is about little kids in the slum and ways you can get involved. So, just hold on for the next post if you're a little queasy. In case you're on the fence as to whether or not you want to read on, let me use this picture to sum up what you're about to see:
It might look like something out of a horror movie, and I kind of felt like I was in one. At the same time, however, the atmosphere was incredibly casual. Even the patient was smiling and congenial as the surgeon used an over-the-counter power drill and an arsenal of tools to reconstruct her arm. This woman was in a car accident four days ago in which her humerus was cleanly fractured. Having never observed an orthopedic surgery before, I was very eager to see one.
This was the situation when we arrived. The surgeon was cleaning off the broken ends of this lady's humerus as she seemed to happily study our curiosity and presence. In America, a patient having this type of procedure would almost always be under general anesthesia. To see her looking at us while we looked at her bones, nerves, and arteries was an almost surreal experience. She had been given only a supraclavicular nerve block, which actually seemed to work just fine.
Once the ends had been cleaned and debrided, they were put together like a puzzle and then fastened in place with a titanium plate and screws. Even with all the drilling, clamping, and torque being placed on her arm, she never flinched. She just looked around as if she were waiting for someone in a coffee shop.
Next patient!! But wait a second! But what do you do when the next patient is a boy with a fractured trochanter who can't stand up.
You guessed it! The woman stood right up so they could trade places. Wow! These people are tough. We said shukriya and goodbye to the woman. She gave us a big smile and head wobble as she was wheeled into the hallway.
The next patient had a more serious case. His prep took more than 30 minutes as an x-ray machine and all sorts of equipment were brought in to operate on his fractured trochanter. To show you just how hospitable the staff and doctors are here, one of the technicians offered me his lead apron. There was no way I was going to take it from him though.
Instead of being inundated with radiation, we moved to the next room to see what we actually came for: a skin graft to repair a ruptured tympanic membrane.
I checked back in to see how the boy was doing with the broken trochanter. Over an hour into his surgery, things looked pretty ugly.
Come on!! You knew it was coming! Looking at all these bones and flesh all morning and afternoon was making me hungry for some drumsticks. I know what you're thinking: "This guy is sick!" Believe me, I thought the same thing too. I was laughing to myself under my mask as soon as the thought came to my mind. But once it was there, it just couldn't be ignored. My co-volunteer and I went to KFC and devoured 14 pieces of fried chicken. All of my KFC friends were there to welcome me back and meet someone else from America. We were treated like royalty and had a splendid multi-course mid-afternoon KFC extravaganza.
Some more intriguing photos: