A Long Week

Monrovia Travel Blog

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Building the Africa Mercy @ White Sands

Who would have thought a 4 day work week would be so long? 

Monday was a ship holiday, so they had shuttle services set up for White Sands Beach (which has brown sand and even browner water).  After 3 full days of blaring sun, who would have thought on the day I was planning on going to the beach it would be cool and cloudy?  Such is life.  Still it didn't put a damper on our fun.  We played in the waves, trying desperately not to think about why the water was a lovely and disturbingly shade of brown, built a replica of the ship in the sand and played frisbee to our hearts content.  It was so much fun just sitting on the beach, away from the ship and watching the sun set behind a giant thunderhead forming over the sea.

Playing in the waves @ White Sands
  If you squinted down the beach you can make out the harbor and our big white ship.  A small fishing village sits right next to the beach resort and we watched them haul their large canoes onto shore, its a whole village affair.  Despite the lack of sunshine, it was a very nice day.

Tuesday was back to work.  Its our first week of eye surgeries, we have 2 eye surgeons on board now, so the 2 eye rooms are kept very busy.  Over the weekend we had 6 new OR nurses arrive and said goodbye to 2.  Morning report is getting very crowded as we gather around the board.  The eye rooms are interesting to watch, its like a dance.  They have 2 eye beds head to head with the microscope in the middle.  Most of our eye cases are done with local anesthestics, meaning that we numb up the eye and the patient is awake.

Frisbee @ White Sands
  So while one patient is being worked on, another is getting numbed.  Our translators are a big help, bringing in the next patient, getting them set up, giving eye drops and taking the finished patient back to recovery.  They can do about 40 patients a day this way.  All the patients go home at the end of the day and come back the next day to get their bandages removed and have a check up.  This is all done out on the dock in a big tent.

I've been doing maxfax surgeries all week with a surgeon from the UK.  I think those surgeries are very interesting, we don't do a whole lof of maxfax surgeries at home.  But, we've been doing some long cases and have had very long days.  Often, we didn't finish until after 6pm and would have to have dinner saved for us.

Sunset on the beach @ White Sands
  Luckily, our dining staff love us and are more than happy to save us a plate.  Wednesday, I didn't even get lunch and barely got dinner.  Ugh, long days, but it keeps us out of trouble I guess :)

On top of these long days, I had a really bad tooth ache.  My front tooth has been bothering me all weekend and so finally Tuesday I went to the crew clinic to see if I could get in to see the dentist.  She told me the earlist appointment would be in 2 weeks!  I told her I would have pulled my tooth out by then.  She assured me that I could probably get in sooner, maybe tomorrow.  Sure enough, the next day, as I'm holding a terrified 3 year old, rocking her gently as we are giving her gas to make her go to sleep, the phone rings and I have an appointment at 11.

Erika & Jen in the taxis on the way to ELWA
  Luckily, we stopped for lunch so I could go to the dentist.  Our dentist, Dag, is from Norway and is super nice. Long story short, he quickly diagnosed my problem and came up with treatment options.  Unfortunately, all included drilling of some sort into my tooth.  The good news is that my tooth doesn't hurt any more, the bad news is that I have to go back on Oct 29 and get a root canal done.  Blah!

So, Thursday afternoon, Alison, our OR supervisor, pulls all the longer term staff into her office and declares that Friday is our day off!  Since they don't do eyes on Friday, there are plenty plenty nurses to staff the rest of the rooms (we've been running 5 rooms all week).  So, Friday Erika, Laura and I decided to charter a taxis and head across town to another beach, ELWA, not as secure as White Sands, but the water is cleaner and the beach is very nice.

Out on the rocks @ White Sands
  It really wasn't worth the effort, but the adventure was grand.  It took us awhile to flag down a taxis willing to drive the 45 minutes to ELWA and then pick us up when we were ready to leave, but with a promise of $10 to take us there and another $10 to pick us up, we found Kennah.  The 3 of us pile into his yellow hatch back and off we go.  The side panals are rattling so loud we can't hear, there are no window knobs to roll down the windows, making the backseat about 100 degrees and I don't think he missed a single pothole.  Still, we got to the beach by 2:30, a whole 1 1/2 hours since we left the ship.  The weather was perfect, the waves wonderful and we were the novalty on the beach, I think we made friends with about 20 teenagers who came over to be near us.
Playing in the sea @ White Sands
 We told Kennah we'd call him at 4 to come pick us up, he agreed.  By 5, we were back in his taxis heading towards home.  Back safe and sound.

So my plans of going back to 'my' orphanage today was put off today by an emergency in one of the wards.  At 6 am this morning, a ship wide page went out declaring an emergency in B ward.  I wasn't on call, so I didn't go.  At 8, another page went out.  This time, I made my way down to the OR to see what was going on.  A lot of activity, so I popped my head in to find out one of the patients from yesterday was having trouble maintaining his airway and they might have to put a trach tube in (a tube directly into his trachea).  I quickly scrubbed in and set up while the anesthesiologists tried to intubate him.  Luckily, they were able to put a regular tube in his airway and a trach wasn't needed.  He's currently in ICU on the vent, but he's going to be fine once the swelling goes down from his surgery.  Unfortunately, that meant I missed the orphanage today. 

Instead of going to the orphanage, I ended up going back to White Sands Beach with a large group of Mercy Shippers.  It was a perfect afternoon lounging on the beach, a cool breeze coming in off the waters, the waves just big enough to body surf and not too hot to enjoy laying out.  God is good! 

I am exhausted after my long week.  Three days of work and three days of beach, what is a girl to do? 

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Building the Africa Mercy @ White …
Building the Africa Mercy @ White…
Playing in the waves @ White Sands
Playing in the waves @ White Sands
Frisbee @ White Sands
Frisbee @ White Sands
Sunset on the beach @ White Sands
Sunset on the beach @ White Sands
Erika & Jen in the taxis on the wa…
Erika & Jen in the taxis on the w…
Out on the rocks @ White Sands
Out on the rocks @ White Sands
Playing in the sea @ White Sands
Playing in the sea @ White Sands
Monrovia
photo by: Bluenose