Tuesday, October 23, 2007

In the OR with Dr. James Bond…

October 19

We had a visiting doctor here for a couple weeks, Dr. Bond. He is from Deer Park, CA, right next to PUC, and has been to Bere a few times before. It amazes me that he is able to survive visiting places like Africa with such an obsessive-compulsive attitude towards germs and parasites…but within a couple days, we were all very used to his demands for cleanliness.

James had a whole line of surgeries for Dr. Bond to do, and within a few days, we all found ourselves in the OR helping. I think he could easily have done surgeries with the usual 2 nurses that helped James, but he made us feel needed. So without having set foot in the OR, I was suddenly in there for hours every day, circulating and watching the surgeries. Even Sonja, a social work major, was pulled into handing out compresses and sutures with the rest of us. Liz & Christina got to try being the anesthesiologist a couple times, but whenever I’d venture their way to listen in and learn the anesthetics, Dr. Bond’s booming voice would exclaim, “No Esther! Leave all that to the nurses; you’re the EMT. Come look at what I’m doing…Closer, closer!”

So I’d watch over his & Abel’s shoulders as they worked miracles, taking out spleens, appendixes, prostates, hysterectomies, and Dr. Bond would gladly explain it all. It made me more tired, working all night sometimes, and then only sleeping an hour before going to the OR all day, but it was worth it.

One day, Dr. Bond strode up to me and proclaimed, “Esther, today you are going to scrub in and assist me.” I looked at him in surprise. “You would like that, wouldn’t you?” he said, watching me in amusement as I quickly nodded my head up and down.

A little bit later, Abel was teaching me the scrub in procedure and before I knew it, I was standing over a patient, across from Dr. Bond, handing him scalpels and clamps for a bilateral hernia. I was so hot, covered in all the scrub clothes, sweat trickling down my neck and back, and I held forceps pulling the skin apart until my arms were shaking from exertion. But whenever he would ask me if I was tired, I’d quickly deny it, wanting so bad to stay there and help him.

He let me help with 2 more hernias the next couple of days, since they were simple operations…but after he left to go back to the States this week, I haven’t been back into the OR. The good news is, though, that he’s coming back for a longer time in February!

The doctors from the Koza hospital in Cameroon are here now and James & Sarah flew over to their hospital for a month. There isn’t an airport here in Bere, but there’s an old airstrip in a field that they used. Greg, a pilot associated with Gospel Outreach, flew the drs. here and James & Sarah out in a small 5-person plane. I was taking my bath early in the morning when I heard a big commotion. I realized that it was the plane taking off, the whole village was watching it, as Greg circled a couple times before heading off. I was hoping they couldn’t see me bathing, since it’s entirely open on top. And white skin kind of stands out! It was amazing, though, to think that most of these people never see airplanes. The kids in my family were telling me it was such a big plane, so I was trying to explain that I came in a plane that held a few hundred people! They didn’t believe me…


  1. Hi Sarah (Esther),
    You are wearing many hats while being an SM in Tchad. I just looked up the Cameroon doctors (Greg, Audrey, and daughter Sarah Shank) and thought others would like to read about them since you almost went there and now they are in Bere. (follow Sarah's link to Adventist Health Int'l and select Global Partners - Cameroon tab. See letters at bottom).
    Keep writing your letters since you are bringing a lot more people here in the states closer to God as they experience a little of the life of a student missionary.

  2. airplanes with hundreds of people?...hogwash!