Charles Senteio

Friday, January 27, 2006

Guatemala Surgery & Trip to Guatemala City_1.18.2006

Wednesday AM was very cool, my first opportunity to witness first hand a surgery. The gall bladder removal was scheduled for 9am and normally lasts for about 20 minutes when things go smoothly. Our departure back to Guatemala City was scheduled for 9:30 so the plan was solid. Dr. Schmidt and team got going just about 9. The OR was going to be ‘shared’ meaning there would be 2 operations going on simultaneously, as they do normally when they visit San Cristobal. The other 9am procedure was a hernia operation for a 10 year old boy. It struck me as strange that a boy so young would need hernia surgery but Jim let me know that for some this is a hereditary condition.
The gall bladder surgery seemed to start OK. Dr. Schmidt asked about music and they ended up firing up an iPod attached to speakers. Soon the room was filled with some James Taylor, Elton John and Santana.
I was surprised that there wasn’t much blood and fat looks like… well, fat. Once Dr. Schmidt cut through the skin and fat he used an ‘electronic’ scalpel to get through additional tissue to find the gall bladder. This didn’t take much time actually, just about 5 minutes or so, and the whole process was very manual. Lots of poking around and prodding. I was reminded of changing the plugs in my SportTrac. I do see/find parallels with cars. Anyway, there was lots of poking around and ‘feeling’ for the right spot. After a bit more cutting things started to get complicated because all of a sudden there was lots of blood, the suction was working overtime as things got a bit more serious. Attention quickly shifted from finding the gall bladder to applying pressure to the vessel that had been damaged. In the midst of the excitement Dr. Schmidt, who I thought was handling things very well under the circumstances, said that they had apparently hit a vessel near the liver and this had to be corrected before anything else. For the first time I thought, wow this woman could die here. Serious stuff. I glanced over and looked at her face and felt compelled to hold her right hand. I dunno if this was cool but I tried not to let anyone see me. The other surgeon working with Dr. Schmidt asked if I’d be willing to help expose the cavity by holding a ‘separator’ which basically amounts to a flat metal paddle about a foot long. I wasn’t scrubbed up so I had to grab it with my left hand from behind the sheet that divides the team from the patient’s head. By this time it was around 9:25 and it was clear that I was not gonna get out of there by 9:30. Dr. Schmidt sewed up the damaged vessel and the bleeding stopped. This was a very good thing because there was no blood bank at the hospital and no ability to perform transfusions. Around this time Dr. Schmidt removed the 1st of 2 gallstones. These looked like large green marbles (see pics) and the team seemed to be shocked at their size. I know I was shocked. I looked up and saw my man Jim kinda giving me the “what’s up we gotta go” look through the window and I pointed to my left hand which was still trying to keep the cavity open, letting him know I just couldn’t make it at that time. At around 9:45 the team was well underway to removing the gall bladder and the tone of the room was much more relaxed, about how it was when we first got going. After just a bit more cutting the other surgeon let me know things were going smoothly now and let me know I could get going if I needed to. Even though this was very cool I didn’t wanna be left in San Cristobal so I jetted to join the rest of our team, waiting in our van.
I had a great trip back to San Cristobal reflecting on the entire trip, especially the surgery. There is indeed some good stuff going on in that little corner of the world amidst the poverty and sickness. I also am firm in my conviction that, at least to me personally, I have much more to receive from these folks than I could take away. I hope I don’t have to work to hard to maintain this mutually principle as I push ahead on my journey.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Guatemala Pictures 1.18.2006

Gall Bladder Surgery at San Cristobal

gallstones the team removed, some in the OR had never seen ones this big

Scenes from Guatemala City

Jim, Steve and some interesting food!

Familiar sights

Steve Osborn's House