March 11th, 2019
Day 3 in Gitwe proved to be our longest one yet. Beginning early in the morning, we started out with the first two surgeries lined up from yesterday. Drs. Dhingra and Sebelik had a particularly tough first case, with a large discontinuous goiter extending into the chest cavity. After nearly a three-hour procedure, it was removed, and both doctors along with Drs. Chandra and DeBiase moved on to complete a total of seven surgeries throughout the day. After completing all our scheduled procedures, there was no time for rest, as prospective patients had been waiting in the Rwandan heat all day outside the hospital, some even refusing to get food because they were afraid to lose their line. We screened as many as possible before night fell, but some patients will no doubt return tomorrow morning to yet again attempt to get seen by the doctors. One of the highlights from the afternoon was seeing the post-op patients return downstairs after their surgeries yesterday to have their IVs and drains removed along with being given an ultrasound by Dr. Sebelik to check their vocal cord motility. Flavia, a memorable patient from yesterday’s surgeries, was particularly happy upon being discharged, whispering thank-yous to everyone in the room and smiling broadly when showing us her neck, now goiter-less and unremarkable except for her scar. One of the difficulties of practicing medicine here in Gitwe is the language barrier, which nearly always necessitates a translator when the doctors and nurses communicate with the patients. However, Flavia’s thank you smile was one of those simple moments where barriers such as those become irrelevant, and was a promising sentiment to end the day on as we continue into the remainder of the week and our trip.