It is Friday, April 15, here--income tax day! Somehow I don't think the people of Nias Island have to be concerned about that! We just had the US Ambassador from Indonesia on board, so we had the usual blitz of media and big shots around.
They took some of the people on board for a jaunt in the lifeboats this afternoon. None of us in the OR got to go because we were working, but the ones who went said it was alot of fun. They lowered them into the ocean, they did a couple laps around the ship, and then joisted them back up again---fun. Hear they may do a few more jaunts, so hopefully will be able to go along. See----we do get to have a little fun too!
We are really working full speed now, five OR's today. The hospital is just about full (50 beds), and there are several patients who will be on board even after we leave, which is next Friday. Let me tell you about a few of the patients. First of all, there are about 600 different small towns on Nias Island, and we have only been able to serve about 200 towns. So, there are obviously many people we will not be able to see. Sad, because many of these people will just have to live with broken arms and legs, and pelvic fractures. We have seen mostly orthopaedic cases, from crush injuries. Can you even imagine going through life with broken bones? We fixed one lady's arm which had been broken for 2 YEARS---her humerus was broken, (top of your arm), and it was just flailing around, without stabilization. We were able to fixate it, and she will have her arm back in use again. Yesterday we saw a man who fell out of a tree, and had an open fracture of his forearm. When we opened it, he had dirt down the intramedullary canal of his bones. (where the bone marrow is). Good chance of osteomylitis (bone infection). We have a very small baby on board with pertussis (whooping cough), and another with encephalitis. Many, many of these people have TB.
We also have two children that we are hoping we can get to the States. One has a heart problem (PDA), and the other has a tumor between her eyes. Both need extensive care. The group that I do other medical trips with, Healing the Children, is trying to arrange for their care in the US. One of the anesthesiologists here is working with HTC, and trying to figure out how we can bring them over. He has worked with HTC for twenty years now--a really great guy. Of course, there are alot of politics involved. Most of you remember me telling you about the baby with the liver problem in Band Aceh?? Well, he did go to Boston, had his surgery, and returned back home already. He would have died without the surgery. So all my dear friends and family, please say a prayer that we can help these other two children. Healing the Children in California received a huge amount of money from Mel Gibson, and they are going to try and use that money to bring them to UCLA. As most of you know my dear friend Desi heads the Greater Philadelphia chapter of HTC, and she is working along side the California chapter to make things happen--if anyone can do it, she can.
I felt an earthquake the other day, as I was resting in my bunk. It only lasted a few seconds, but you could definitely feel the rumble. I can't imagine how the local people on shore can live with this constant fear. There are also two volcanos that are attempting to erupt on Sumatra, and many people have been evacuated--how much more can these poor people take?
They are also asking if any of us want to extend our trip--either to May 5, or sail the ship back to San Diego. Most of us are leaving, only a few diehards are staying until the bitter end-bless them.
I am sure the Navy will miss us when we leave, as there will still be one ward open with patients to take care of. They won't be released until around the 30th or so, depending on how long the Mercy stays out here.
So, we have less than one week left to go, I will keep you informed of what's happening on board the Mercy.
love to all,
(Photos are from March 2005, Mary)