Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

PF - 14092012

This week Photo Friday is standing in for Wordless Wednesday. Next week back to the regular.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Africa? Where in Africa?

Today I just have two random things. 

First off there is a map that shows how truly large the continent of Africa really is.  You can see that China, India, the United States and most of Europe can fit in the same area as "Africa". I think it just gives a small gimps of what I imagine when people use the word Africa so freely. Yes, I am in Africa serving with Mercy ships, but for the next 10 months we will be in Conakry, Guinea. Guinea is roughly the size of Oregon. When people think about the United States the often think about Hollywood or New York City. Working with exchange students for many years we were able to show them that there is much more to the U.S. than what you see in the news or on movies. There are things in the Midwest that aren't normal on ether coast. It's best to think about the Unites States as 50 sovereign states or even many different regional areas. So when you use the word Africa try to pinpoint more specifically what country you're talking about, because when you say Africa are you talking about Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, or Sierra Leone; which all have not that much in common. Maybe sometime I'll do a quiz and see how many countries you can name from Africa, considering most people use Africa to describe a "country".

Here is a short 2 minute video describing our screening day last week. It's packed full of information about the number of people that we saw.

Make sure to come back for Photo Friday subbing in for Wordless Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Screening debrief

My alarm went off at 5:00, that's not normal. It was almost like my body didn't want to wake up, but the day had come. After lying there in bed for a minute I realized that it was the day that I would experience my first medical screening for Mercy Ships. It's like the largest day of the year for us, the day where we get to find a majority of our surgical patients. You hear people talking about them from all the past outreaches and see many pictures of the long lines. When looking through some pictures you even see glimpses of what people looked like 10 or 20 years ago when they first started with Mercy Ships. Often there are pictures of patients that have aliments that you would think can only be imagined by a Hollywood movie writer, but they do exist here.

When I first got on the ship after Gateway the Communications Department asked me to work with them. It was very nice to know that people wanted me on their team and I was very glad to be able to use some of the specific skills God has given me over the last few years instead of working security or as a patient escort. Not that any of the other positions are lesser or greater, they all are crucial to get the day done successfully, but to know that God had gotten me ready for yet another task that was put in front of me to help the people here in Guinea.

As I walked into the cafe area of Deck 5 I could feel the buzz of excitement, or at least the buzz of 200 people that had just woken up and hadn't had sufficient amounts of coffee yet. We all piled into the Land-Rovers and headed to the site that had been prepared and secured by many people over the last month and especially over the last week. Just before we pulled out of the port we said one last prayer before embarking on the journey that the Lord had designed for us. Praying that people would be there, people that we would be able to help with the surgical facilities that we have, that people would be able to see the love of Jesus in us as we had to tell some of them there wasn't anything that we could to do help them, great weather (considering it is rainy season and it could have poured down rain all day, or been scorching hot all day because it is Africa) and that all of the workers would be able to return to the ship safely and empty from pouring out God's love on the people of Guinea.

Down the long dark hallway I finally found the room we would be working in. There wasn't much light since the sun hadn't come out yet but there were some lights that allowed us to get our workstations ready. My job with the Communications Team would be processing the patient pre-op pictures that are taken. We set up a few white curtains as a back drop to shoot behind. Got all the battery chargers plugged into the generator and cameras set up according to who was using them and what kind of pictures they would be taking. At first light I could really begin to see the line of people that wrapped well around the block and they were starting to allow people through the gate to the first stations around 6:30.

There are many different stages that a potential patient must go through before they are done for the day. I'm not sure of the exact order, but I know that have to see what kind of problem they have. Once they see that it is something that we treat they get taken to the registration area. That's pretty much you admissions department asking them different symptoms that they have and some basic questions about them and their lifestyle. From there they are taken to different areas depending on their surgery type. Maxillofacial (large head tumors, cleft lip/cleft palate), Orthopedics (club foot, bowed legs) VVF (vaginal fistulas), General (goiters, hurnias, lipoma [benign tumor]) Eyes (cataracts, cross-eyed) Plastics (burn contractions); those are all different areas that they are split into. Once they get to that area they wait to see the medical team to find out specifically if they are able to help each person. Once they find out if they can be helped they get their patient card, go through history, meet with x-ray techs and pharmacists to schedule things that need to be done and get their surgery date. The final stop, depending on the surgery, is to get their pre-operation pictures taken. Some of the goiter or lipoma patients only need a few pictures, but the club-foot and bowed leg patients need up to 20 or 30 pictures taken so the surgeons can really have an understanding to what extent they will need to prepare their healing process.

For me, the job I had of filing and processing pictures, it was pretty basic and simple. There were two different photographers taking the pictures, once their memory card was full I would start to work on the pictures I just uploaded. Each picture would have it's own little code by the time I got finished with it and it would look something like this
GN = Guinea
C = 3rd time Mercy Ships had been to the country
12345 = patient number
ALL CAPS = last name
Regular = first name
BR_RG = initials of photographers taking pics
01 = actual picture mumber.

From that point I was able to tag the type of surgery that they were having and do some minor editing of the picture. The job that I was doing could have easily been done once back on the ship but we were able to process a lot of the patients before we even got back. It also allowed us to store the images on a computer almost right away instead of waiting till getting back to upload what could easily been 5,000 plus pictures. I was working right in front of the picture area so I was able to see most of the people scheduled for plastic, orthopedic, max-fax, & general surgeries. To best describe it I would say it was a cross of being at a Sears Portrait Studio the first week of December and being in the Emergency Room on Halloween night.

We were excited to see when they had finished coming through the gate, it must have been around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. They all still had to go through the different stages. It was around 7-7:30 when the last patients made it to our area. The other workers were able to slowly take down the other stations of screening, so once the patients were through we were the last area to clean up. By the time we packed up, loaded the Land-Rovers and made it back to the ship it was somewhere around 9:00 PM. From that point I was able to get a shower and process all of the different things that happened through the day.

The first patients get to the ship tomorrow and we will have the operating rooms running on Thursday. It has been really good to see all of the medical staff arrive and get things ready over the last weeks. It will be a very exciting time for me to see many of the people that we got pictures of as they go through their surgery and healing processes.

Please keep all of the medical staff in your prayers as they get the field service in full swing, that there would be minimal infections if any this year, and that people would be able to recover from their surgeries in record times.