Guatever (Cotter and Pettengill Day 3)

WARNING:  I have placed a few pictures that are somewhat graphic in nature at the bottom of this blog that pertain to matters discussed in the blog.  If you object to the sight of blood do not scroll all the way to the bottom.  I saved the most gruesome picture for last.

Jesse and Adam’s Monday exercise routine:  8 laps around the compound (2 miles), 90 pushups, 30 crunches, 30 ab chairs, 50 bicycles.  People are in awe.

Breakfast:  Fried eggs, black beans, sour cream sauce, fried plantains, handmade tortillas, the greatest pineapple on the face of the planet.  As an alternative to the main breakfast they offered various cold cereals.  I would like to report that Adam bypassed the Raisin Bran, the Corn Flakes, and the Wheaties, and had a heaping bowl of Captain Crunch. [sigh]

On the schedule for today were 21 patients for surgery.  Some of the gynecological patients required more than one procedure after being opened up.  We fell behind fairly early, and remained behind.  One man had severe bladder stones.  They opened up his bladder and removed the stones.  The stones were the far larger than they would have been allowed to get in the states .  I donned a hair net and a face mask, entered the surgical room, and snapped a photo of the bladder ‘boulders’ (see pictures below).

Let me introduce you to the rest of the sterilization room crew.  Melinda is from North Carolina.  She works in a sterile lab that produces sample allergens for allergy testing.  She had never, however, learned about the procedures involved in medical sterilization.

Gary is from Austin, Texas.  He is a former executive for IBM.  Gary came up with the brilliant idea of flipping over plastic tubs in the sterilization sinks and setting other plastic tubs on top of them, thus raising the sinks for sterilization some four or five inches and saving all our backs.  We are in his debt.

Adam is observing lots of surgeries.  For those of you who might not know Adam has transitioned from business to pre-med in his schooling with the goal of becoming a surgeon, so he is making the best of his opportunity to observe surgeons  doing what surgeons do.

Lunch: Meat loaf, mashed potatoes, mixed veggies (cooked with green olives!), fresh watermelon, handmade tortillas, hibiscus juice.  I love meatloaf!  (Shannon is rolling her eyes right now).

Post lunch was more of the same–lots of surgeries, most of which required large GYN surgical sets and lots of specialty instruments that we had to prepare separate.  The sets returned to us were thick with blood and grime (see pictures below).  It is amazing how quickly you become desensitized to the gory-ness of the task.  By day two manning a sterilization sink becomes as routine as doing dishes at home.

We listened to Adam’s MP3 playlist today.  Every other song was Taylor Swift.  Adam knew every word.  He even confessed to Steve and I that he has a Taylor Swift calendar.  Personally I think he should have kept this to himself.  Especially since you are now reading all about it on my blog.  🙂

Today we had a scary moment in surgery.  One woman who was brought into the surgical room for a routine incisional hernia reacted poorly to being put under the anesthesia and her vitals tanked.  The surgery team scrambled to get the defibrillator ready.  Thankfully they were able to revive her without the shock and in a short time she stabilized.

There was another heart wrenching moment today that was more sad than scary.  A mother brought in a young child four months of age and she met with one of our general surgeons.  The surgeon determined that the child’s condition was inoperable–there was nothing that could be done.  The child will die soon.  We could offer the family little comfort.  There is nothing for the surgical team to do but to focus on the patients they can help, and to offer prayers for those they cannot.

Our final surgical set was put into the autoclave at 8:30 PM and our work day was over.

Dinner: BBQ chicken, marinated mixed veggies, rice, handmade tortillas, yellow cake.  The juice was a mystery.  I have no idea.  I looked like iced tea but tasted like juice.  Someone leave me a comment and tell me what flavor I was drinking.

Our chaplain spoke to us about the local Mayan marriage customs (from his experience as a missionary here).  The marriages are typically arranged.  Many girls marry when they are 15 or 16.    The wedding lasts for days, and during the ceremony they consume a liquor made out of sugarcane.  He related the Mayan customs to the occasion when Jesus turned water into wine.  He invited us not to look down upon other customs and ways of being, but to have sensitivity to the deep and rich traditions of the various people groups in the world.  He asked us to describe a cultural difference that we have observed that stood out to us.  Rick Harper mentioned that during certain seasons of the year the Mayan’s put skirts around the avocado trees that do not produce fruit in hopes of shaming them into producing fruit the next season.  Rick likened it to “Jesse, who is a big a Giants fan, and who probably wears a game day jersey that he is suuuuure helps the Giants win.”   Okay, fine.  Point made.

Time for bed.  We’re all exhausted.  A few pictures with captions follow.  Remember, I saved the worst for last.

These are two large bladder stones removed today from a patient. The largest stone was about three inches across.

This is a typical GYN surgical set that is returned to us after surgery. The large rounded on one end trough is called a "weighted speculum" and is used in vaginal hysterectomies.

I warned you I was saving the most graphic and disturbing for last!!  🙂

Adam singing Taylor Swift songs into a fake microphone as he listens to them on his Zune (yes, he actually bought a Zune).

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6 Responses to Guatever (Cotter and Pettengill Day 3)

  1. LUGDON LODGE says:

    I am rolling my eyes. and praying for that poor mother who will lose her baby soon.
    love you, sweetheart,
    keep working hard.

  2. Methel says:

    Did you tell your chaplain “Hi” from Methel? Love the image of Adam singing into the “mike!” Whoduh thunk it?

  3. Debbi Basini-Herman says:

    You guys are amazing…I am so proud to be a part of your church family…as a light hearted note…Eli Manning is hosting SNL beginning of May Jesse….keep the blogs coming…they are so interesting.

  4. erin983 says:

    Goodness gracious, those stones came out of someone!?! It has been very interesting to read about your Guatemala adventures each day! I don’t know what Zune is but I think Adam needs to get a real microphone upon your return. Praying for all of you!

  5. Average Joe B. says:

    What a great idea putting upside-down buckets in the sink to lift them higher!! I remember how much my lower back aches from bending like that… maybe Jesse not as much but those Cotters are tall!!
    are they running 3 rooms?

  6. Courtney says:

    Very excited to read your blog each day! Thanks for the updates! I will continue to pray for your team and your patients! Hopefully next year I will be able to join you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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