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2/14/08 (Thursday)

Today is Valentine’s Day.  The day that I enjoy spending with the love of my life, Phyllis.  She is not here with me and I miss her terribly.  But I do get to spend the day with the main love of my life, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  In fact, I have the privilege of spending each and every day with Christ.  I must admit, I wander from Him from time to time, sometimes frequently, and I regret those misadventures when I strike out on my own and do not maintain a close relationship and fellowship with Him.  What is so incredible is He is always there to receive me back with forgiveness and unfailing love. 

It is 6:50 AM and I am up and shower fresh…at least until the sun comes up and the heat and humidity become part of the day.  Our power stayed on through the night and that was a blessing.  I slept better with the fan running creating the white noise that tends to suppress the outside noises of frogs croaking, dogs barking, roosters crowing and traffic on the road.  Throughout the night and all day long there is bus traffic to and from San Lorenzo.  The buses are local from town to town and direct routes to the major cities and to Quito.  These buses make a lot of noise as they pass the clinic.  For some reason, some of the drivers felt it was important to honk their horns last night.  I was awakened more than once by a horn honking.  I have no ability to shut out the outside noise.  The windows have only screens.   

Today, we have general surgery cases.  One of the patients scheduled for a gallbladder cancelled last night so Jane is attempting to contact the two women scheduled for Friday for tubal ligations to come in today.  This will free us up on Friday so we can spend the afternoon visiting downtown San Lorenzo.  Hopefully, we can move these surgeries up and have a much easier day tomorrow. 

Father, Thank You for the restful night.  Lord, in spite of the night noises, I have to remember that You created all these creatures whose songs and sounds are so varied and interesting.  You created this place which has unique beauty that I have not seen elsewhere.  Thank You for that, Lord.  Father, today I ask for Your continued presence with us as we continue the surgery schedule.  Please protect those people undergoing the surgeries.  Help them and heal them.  Likewise, wrap Your hands around our hands and guide us through the surgeries like You have this week.  Lord, I so appreciate Your love and Your incredible power that enables me to be Your servant.  Lord, it is a unbelievable privilege to be an extension of You, to reach out as part of Your loving and healing touch, to encourage and to forgive.  Lord, Thank You for loving me so much.  Thank You for walking here and allowing me to walk with You.  Thank You, Lord.  Amen. 

6:00 PM.  Our day was much slower than the previous days and I was thankful for the break.  We had only four surgeries today.  One of the gall bladder patients cancelled and the patients we were trying to move from Friday could not change their schedules.  Therefore, we worked through the day moving slower.  Barb scrubbed with Jane on all the cases and I scrubbed on the first two.  I then went to my room and took an hour nap making me feel much better.  I have been so tired the past two days, partially from the standing all day and the tough surgeries and partially from the heat and humidity.  The heat alone saps one’s energy.  We all have felt the effects of the heat and humidity.  Linda became ill today with some nausea and diarrhea.  Jane obtained some tests on her and will treat her with antibiotic if necessary.  It is likely a transient problem related to eating different food.  Nancy has done all our cooking and our food is always hot and well cooked.  I hope that this problem will be over quickly.  I hate it when my team members get sick.   

Our first case today was a woman with gallstones.  She had a large stone obstructing her bile duct and had been having repeated gall bladder attacks.  I suspect this stone was causing a lot of pain.  She is now free of the wretched thing and her life should be much better.  Her surgery went well with no bleeding or problems. 

Our second patient came in complaining of a bulge in the area of a previous gall bladder incision.  She had her gall bladder removed somewhere else about four years ago.  About a year after the surgery, she began having a bulge near the lower end of the incision.  The incision runs diagonally along her ribs on the right side.  The bulge could be a hernia but it did not feel totally like one.  Jane was not certain what we might find there.  She proceeded with the surgery to explore the incision and fix a hernia if we found one.  When we opened the incision, we found some scar tissue but no obvious hernia.  Further exploration revealed a weak area in the muscle near the area but no definite hernia.  Jane placed some sutures to reinforce the muscle tissue and the weak area disappeared.  We are uncertain if this was the problem in that the defect was not that big and may be slightly outside of where the bulge was.  The procedure went very well with no bleeding or problems.  I hope this effort brings satisfaction to the patient. 

Our third patient was a young man with a large right inguinal hernia.  Jane fixed the hernia and placed a piece of surgical mesh over the hernia site to keep it from returning.  After the surgery, the man lifted his head and looked at what was going on.  Jane and Barb were just finishing.  His eyes were wide open and he looked very surprised at what he saw.  I laughed to myself and wished I had had a picture of that look on his face.  The procedure went very well with no bleeding or problems.   

The fourth patient was an older man with a right inguinal hernia.  Both of these men had spinal anesthetics.  The first man did not even flinch when the anesthesiologist introduced the spinal needle.  The second man, however, made a big deal over the needle stick.  He kept jumping and yelling out.  Maria Luisa was standing and facing him to help him remain still.  The anesthesiologist introduced the needle once more and the man grabbed Maria Luisa’s breast and squeezed so hard that she was screaming in pain.  Once she was able to pull his hand off her breast she was crying out in pain and ran from the room.  The man did not even seem concerned about what he did.  The spinal anesthetic went in and the surgery proceeded.  Once the surgery began Linzy and I left the room as Loita was going to pass instruments and Jane and Barb were doing the surgery. 

Linzy and I took a walk down the street to the phone cabin where we called our Valentines.  Today is Valentine’s Day and we missed our Valentines.  I enjoyed talking with Phyllis and surprised her with the phone call.  It was raining lightly when we began our walk and we got a little wet in the process of making the phone call.  It was worth it to hear Phyl’s voice and talk with her for a few minutes.   

Our evening will be easier since we are finished with our surgery earlier than the previous nights.  I hope to read my book for awhile and then go to bed earlier than the past two nights so I can get a good night’s sleep.  The past two nights have been short on sleep, only 5 to 6 hours each.   

Damarys and Loita came in about 7:00 with a load of groceries.  They quickly put together a little celebration in honor of Valentine’s Day.  We had watermelon, banana, grapes, sliced apples, cake and ice cream and some other treats.  The entire clinic staff joined in with all of us for a fun time of eating and talking.  The clinic staff has a lot of fun together.  They are always laughing and talking with one another.  I have never seen them argue or even come close to any type of disagreement.  This makes a great team in that they have a common focus and purpose and are here to do the Lord’s work along with Jane.  Jane is fortunate to have such a good team.  She can focus on her work instead of managing people who are having difficulty getting along with each other.  Linda and Annette left to make evening rounds on the post-op patients.  They have certainly made this aspect of the work here much easier for Jane, Barb and I.  The patients love having all the attention and the professional care from these two wonderful nurses. 

Father, Thank You for this day.  I appreciate the slower pace and the opportunity to take a nap in the middle of the day.  The hour’s rest was great!  Thank You also for the opportunity to call Phyllis and talk with her.  Thank You, especially, for Your presence today in the operating room allowing us to complete our surgeries without any difficulty.  Lord, thank You for Linda.  Please touch her body and stop the diarrhea and nausea she is experiencing right now.  I appreciate all she is doing to help us and care for our patients.  Thank You, Lord, for Annette.  Likewise, I appreciate her and what she is doing to help us here.  She and Linda have been extremely helpful to us as they have managed the post-op patients on their own and have taken that burden off our shoulders.  I appreciate that and I know Jane appreciates it as well.  Thank You, Lord, for Barbara.  I have enjoyed learning to know her and am so glad she was able to come and serve with us here.  She is an excellent surgeon and has also been a huge help in the operating room.  I appreciate her so much and especially appreciate her willingness to make the sacrifice to come to San Lorenzo with me.  Lord, I thank You for Linzy.  This experience has thrilled her heart and she has been able to do so many things.  She is preparing to enter medical school and I pray that she will commit her heart and career to serving You.  Lord, wrap Your arms of love around her and guide her as she begins her medical career.  Father, thank You for Damarys and Loita who have come from Quito to be here with us and take care of the details so we can do the surgeries and care for our patients without any hassles.  I appreciate them so much.  I pray You will love them in a special way today.  Father, thank You especially for Jane.  I so respect her and love her as she is giving her life to bring healing, both physical and spiritual, to the people here in San Lorenzo.  She could be back home enjoying a very productive practice.  However, she has her focus on You and prefers to serve You here.  Please, Lord, bless her richly for she has been an incredible blessing to me.  To You only, Father, goes all the praise!  Amen.


1. Darcy Clawson - February 15, 2008

Please let Linda know that I am praying for her as I know how horrible it is to be sick in another country. You can ask her if she has seen any good sunsets. 🙂

I have been enjoying your blog….minus the worm –although Jordan loved it and it has come up often, even when we went to the doctor’s office today — that was a fun explination. 🙂 Keep safe, drink lots of water, get some rest……and know that you are loved, missed, and being prayed for.

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