|Feb 2015 Scalpel at the Cross Team @ Amazonico Clinic|
The Amazon, perhaps the wildest and most untamed place on the planet, is a fascinating place that is ever changing. In fact, the water levels during the rainy season rise 30 feet or more! A gorgeous place with plant life and critters galore, some of them more pleasant and attractive than others, was be our home for the next week. According to statistics, the Amazon produces 20% of the world's oxygen and hosts > 50% of the world plant and animal species. The plants, animals, and people of the region are accustomed to this natural ebb and flow of change and have adapted to both its blessings and challenges.
|Peruvian Amazon from a float plane ride|
We lived at Jungle Bunks, a beautiful house/lodge built to house visiting teams and part of a larger dream that began with two couples - Peter & Nancy Cole and Craig & Heather Gahagen - decades ago that materialized into a ministry called Scalpel at the Cross [www.scalpelatthecross.org] devoted to bringing orthopedic care to the people of the Peruvian Amazon in the name of Jesus.
We often refer to trips like this one as headed to the 'third world.' However, to look them in the face removes the tendency to talk abstractly about 'people in the third world' and reminds me that we both live in one world, not three. Though they live in a low- or middle-income country, we share the same world - one world, God's world, a world where we are all equally created in His image. Though the Peruvian people are typically short-stature and small-framed, their perseverance, gratefulness, and joy in the face of difficult circumstances overwhelmingly indicted our western, self-centered worldview. Just as Jesus touched the leper, our purpose is to see others, regardless of circumstance, as fully human and to restore dignity to the best of our ability.
'The notion that some lives are more important than others is the root of all that is wrong in the world today.' - Paul Farmer, MD
Sunday morning was spent at church with local missionaries and then that afternoon we took a boat ride through the canyos (sp?), a stretch of swamp-like, dense foliage present only during the rainy season that allows small boat access from the lake we lived on to the main Ucayali River, one the largest tributaries to the Amazon River. During that trip we spotted several iguanas, sloths, eagles, orioles and host of other birds.
Of note, a few of us (me included) go for a swim in the river back by the camp but only one of us was bitten by a piranha (wasn't me!)!!
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were the bulk of our days of surgery. Depending on the size of the cases, we did anywhere from 2-4 cases per day per operating room. Believe it or not, the operating rooms were air conditioned!!! Wow was that amazing!! The level of orthopedic pathology was phenomenal and the majority of the cases we performed were very large complex surgeries, all performed without the use of live xray (a definite perk here in the USA). The best thing about operating in developing countries is that you use what you have to do what you can for best possible outcome possible for the patient. No whining. No complaining. No excuses. Everyone is there for one purpose and it has nothing to do with being pampered.
|Reviewing an xray preop|
|Gia, Joe, Me, Dr Schmidtz|
|Working in OR|