It seems as though life is suddenly on fast forward and I can’t seem to find the play button or maybe even slow play!
Our big screening day was on Monday 3 September, where over 3,500 patients turned up to a place called People's Palace, hoping to see a doctor and a cure for their pain. Of the patients screened 1,399 patients were scheduled for surgery or follow-up visits!
I was Team Leader, along with my friend Hannah, at the Histories station. We had every potential patient (about 1,399 of them) come through out station and then on towards their specific specialty areas. The area was set out with 18 tables for history taking, with a nurse and translator at each table. Our nurses did an amazing job taking these histories, having consents signed and passing them on to the waiting escorts. It is an amazing thing to see such great team work in progress.
I was able to walk around my team, answering questions and keeping the flow of patients to tables. I felt so privileged to be greeting all of my potential patients for the next 10 months of scheduled surgery time. I remember standing at the front of the waiting area for patients, with about 80 people sitting there facing me, seeing tumours on patients’ faces, some with tea-towels tied around their face to hide their shame. Just looking over the crowd I could feel their need and know that for so many of them we could help! The joy inside my heart ran deep, at knowing for so many of these patients, we could be a piece of healing in their lives.
After taking full medical histories for a few hours I was given the word, to pass on to my team, to shorten the process to help get through the huge line of patients waiting outside in the hot sun. Soon we were flying through our room of waiting patients, but they just kept coming! After about 10 hours of history taking, we finished our work! With so many helping hands, we quickly cleaned up our area and I headed upstairs to the Maxillofacial screening area to see the room overflowing with waiting patients.
The doctors at the 5 stations were working as fast as they could but there was still hours and hours work ahead of them. By 7pm, as the sun was setting and light disappearing, we had to write out follow-up screening cards for the patients that were still waiting, to come back on Wednesday for continued screening. By the time these patients were on their way out, the light had gone (no working lights in that room). We cleaned the room by flashlight and headed downstairs to the last few stations, still busy with patients.
By the time I left the People’s Palace screening site I had been there 14 hours, from before the sun had risen, until well past it had set and I was physically exhausted, but emotionally exhilarated by all that I had seen and been a part of, knowing what excitement was coming in the next few days.
Tuesday and Wednesday morning I ran around organising things and doing odd jobs to get D ward (my ward) ready for opening for admissions on Wednesday afternoon. At 1600hrs our first 8 patients of the Guinea outreach walked into the ward.
|This little girl has already had her cleft lip repair!|
And here I am now, Sunday afternoon (well it was when i wrote this, but now it is Tuesday!), lounging back on my couch in the back of my cabin, trying to find the energy to address the tasks I have put to the side at the end of a tiring, but great day at work. I love being back in the hospital. I love having a baby tied on my back, resting their tired head and feeling their weight drop as they sleep, wrapped securely into the small of my back. I love seeing a mama see her baby for the first time after surgery, now seeing the cleft lip sewn together for the first time. I love communicating with a patient even though we don’t know each other’s language. I love the sound of Africa voices lifted high in praise to our God for all he has done and is doing in our lives. I love my work here and am so abundantly blessed to be serving.