Tuesday, March 5, 2024

First Day of Surgeries

 First, I apologize for not posting last night.  I was exhausted.  One of the docs today provided me with grace-filled explanation: the elevation was probably to blame.  I'll take it.

So the first day of surgeries.  There are too many stories for one posting, so I'll try to focus on just a few thoughts.  The professional organization from Sunday's triage day, continued yesterday.  Yes, there were glitches and supplies that needed to be sourced, but considering the coordination necessary between Obras, Faith in Practice staff, our mission team, and another smaller mission team, things went very well.

Personally, I had to maneuver through feelings of initial awkwardness and hesitancy.  As the day progressed, I found my groove, praying with patients before surgery, finding the ward where patients went after post surgery, and getting to know our team better.  I even was feeling more confident with my Spanish as far as I could go.  

Monday, though, was about observation for me. I am one of the few "older adults" among energetic, younger people on this trip.  While I do not have a tat - not that I haven't thought about it - many of my young friends have tattoos.  In my role as staff chaplain at Meridian Park, I always ask about someone's "ink" when I visit with patients or staff.  Tattoos come with stories!  

Case in point: in post-op, one of the young nurses has a sleeve tattoo.  I had been admiring it from the start of the trip. I would catch glimpses of it as she walked by during meals or on our walk to the hospital.  I finally asked her about it on Monday.  The tattoo, which runs from shoulder to fingers is a gorgeous cacophony of flowering plants.  She explained that all of the plants on her arm were medicinal - echinacea, chamomile, night shade, and others.  For this nurse, the night shade represents her belief that people should have the right to choose the time of their death when facing life-limiting/threatening illness.  She went on to say that she was getting additional training in mental health nursing. "I want to counsel people about their own end-of-life."  She became animated when talking about her dreams and how she might help people face their own mortality and live as fully as possible.  She didn't know if it was a recognized speciality but, "if it's not, I'm going to make it one."

Observing ink. A life-giving conversation that would not have happened if I had not observed and been curious.  There are many other things I am observing during my time in Guatemala and hope to share those in the days to come.

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