Day 6: Update from Poppa Bruce

It’s Saturday and although the operating room does not run, we have patients that were operated on this week and we’re concerned about their well-being. In order to put our minds at ease, Dr. Jonah Mullens made a special trip to the hospital this morning to do rounds (check on the patients).

I spoke with Dr. Mullens on his return and am happy to inform you that all is well.

Some Background 
As part of the Mission Peace project, we carry antibiotics and painkillers that we give to the patients after surgery. In Vietnam, these drugs may or may not be available and may or may not be given to the patients unless they can afford to purchase them themselves. This way of dealing with drugs is very similar to the way a patient receives food. In the case of food, I have seen the families wait outside the ward windows and when I asked why, I was told that they come to feed their family members. It’s just very different than what we have come to expect in the United States.

My family and friends have been following our progress through the website. When I spoke with my wife this morning she told me that she was being asked why I had not sent any updates. Guys, it’s the weekend and other than the special trip that Jonah took, there is simply no medical activity. In order to satisfy this comment, I decided to send you the OR schedule and then take it day by day from there. This information is in “medical speak”.

Monday January 8th
Age    Procedure
  • 5 years    Right PL to PB
  • 5 years    TF TAL EA STJ fusion (Grice-Green) lateral closing wedge Osteotomy Calcaneus
  • 6 years    bilateral Calcaneal screw removal
  • 24 years    Screw removal Tendon trans
  • 22 years    TFR TAL & CTT, possible Steindler stripping
  • 23 years    TFR non union ankle fusion

Tuesday January 9th
  • 20 months    Right T&C
  • 20 years    Triple Arthrodesis TAL; possible STJ fusion/Coleosteotomy
  • 5 years    Left amputation 2nd toe, possible great toe fusion, possible multiple Metatarsal fusion
  • 30 years    Cole osteotomy & TAL
  • 29 years    Right gastro res & CTT
  • 25 years    Right peroneal tenosynovectomy/lysis

Significant Others
Its also time to make special mention of our three RNs: Tina Ratto, Thersa Pineda and Jenni Lehnert. These guys are a very significant piece of the Mission Peace team. They are part of the screening process, keeper of records and schedules, and--more importantly--they support the Docs in the OR, assisting room to room with the occasional side trip to the supply room.

We also must make special mention of our interpreters: Tuyen (TeTee) and Phuong (Fong). Without an interpreter, this mission would be extremely difficult. The Vietnamese language uses our Latin alphabet with a set of accent marks that changes the sound of a particular letter, but the similarity to English ends there. It is based on Chinese and the sound is completely foreign to most Americans. 

These two young women run back and forth translating between the patient and the Doctors doing the exams, between the American and Vietnam Doctors, between the patient and the hospital staff all day long. They are also present in the OR running between the rooms to translate the questions in order to fulfill the needs that arise in these more critical situations. The only way to describe their activity is to imagine having 14 people all calling you at once. To top it off, I have yet to see or hear them utter a negative word or act at all put upon.