Saturday, March 14, 2015

March Madness

It's that time of year.  Before the weekend is out, we will know the 65 teams in the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament.  My team may or may not be there, but I will still watch.  Just like I watched or listened throughout the weekend.  Didn't even have a dog in the fight, but I just can't help it.  Love me some basketball.
Just couldn't wait to give you my final or 'favorite' four, in no particular order....
or maybe they are.

1)     Villanova - coached by Jay Wright.  Currently ranked number 4 with a record of 32-2.

2)     Iowa State - coached by Fred Hoiberg.  Currently ranked number 13 with a record of 25-8.

3)     Kansas - coached by Bill Self.  Currently ranked number 9 with a record of 26-8

4)     St. John's - coached by Steve Lavin.  Currently ranked number ... oh, they're not exactly ranked in the AP poll, but they received votes, with a record of 21-11.

It is my gut feeling that Kentucky won't make it to the end.  Just saying.

Those are some of my favorite teams to watch.  What's that you say?  Well, I'll be darned...  Those teams do have well-dressed and fine looking coaches.  

I love watching basketball.  Love football.  Have almost figured out soccer, don't think I could call a game yet, but I get it.  After basketball, I have to be open-minded about my sports.  I'll admit, I have a hard time watching pro baseball on tv, but I can watch it live any day of the week.  Golf, yes please.  Nascar -- I like that because I can multi-task while it is on.  Horse racing, count me in.

Don't misunderstand.  I am not an uber-fan of any of these sports, just capable of watching with a decent general comprehension of what is going on.  And I am perfectly capable of getting up in the middle of any of it and walking away.  I might need to take out the trash, do a load of laundry... who knows.  Most sports make good background noise if I need to be doing something else.


Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday the 13th -- So What?

Stepping away from the Mission trip to the Philippines for another few days.  Only because I have had a thrilling week.

It was exciting in a number of very tiny and uneventful ways.  It all started when I figured out that my car had a heated steering wheel.  Whaaaaat?  I have had it for quite a while, and this was a moment that made me feel slightly dorky.  I am a gadget girl.  How did it get past me?
This was followed up by the fact that walking through a parking lot, I looked down and saw a quarter.  Yes, I did pick it up!  Actually the only coins I leave on the ground are upside down pennies.  Everyone knows what bad luck it is to pick those up... except I really don't believe in luck.
Which reminds me that St. Patrick's Day is next week.  Yay.  Time to worry about whether or not I have something to green to wear. 
Admission:  I go to the dentist twice a year like clockwork.  And I floss religiously.  Yep, checked in there this week, no cavities or other problems.  (high-fiving myself)  Considering I had a gum surgery last fall that knocked me on my behind, any good info on my teeth and gums is more than welcome news. 

Wow.  I am easily amused.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Heavy Things from the Medical Mission

Warning.  This post is not warm and fuzzy.  I saw so many different things this year than I saw last year.  Our patients this year had a completely different set of challenges than last year's patients.

You know I love the surgeries.  We started on Monday, but it was Tuesday before I could find a place in the bukol (small surgeries) room.  On day one, we were missing most of our supplies that had been shipped over in November, but we did what we could.  I just have to tell you about the most unusual things I saw this trip.  

Last year, we saw so many cleft palates.  This year, I remember seeing one.  We had to ask him to come back in two weeks when there would be a plastic surgeon and better opportunity for follow up.

But this year, this year, I saw devastating cancer.  I saw it every day.  I saw it over and over.  This was undiagnosed, untreated cancer.  It can only be described as raw and unforgettable.  First, I saw it as breast cancer.  Unbelievable.  I have pictures, but they are not at all appropriate to share here.  Cancer looks like nothing I have ever seen before.  It looked permanent.  It looked incurable.  It looked painful.  There was usually swelling, puffiness, lumps, bumps, lots of different colors.  Sometimes it looked like a very serious fungal infection.  I'll never forget the look of those cancers.  Never.  Some of the other places I saw it were on faces, I saw it on feet, and I saw it on shoulders and backs.

After losing loved ones to cancer, important people in your life, it weighs on you.

I couldn't help but wonder if there was something in their environment that caused that amount of cancer.  Last year, I was unaware of any cancer cases.

We saw tons of cysts, usually sebaceous cysts.  There wasn't a part of the body that we didn't see one.  They were on the head, in people's hair; on the nose; behind an ear; on an upper cheek; on the lower cheek, near the chin; on necks; on shoulders and backs; on the chest; on the arm, elbow, hand, finger; on the abdomen; on the side of the body; on the torso; on the upper leg, hip, lower leg, knee, ankle, foot and toe.  To my knowledge, they were able to remove nearly all of them.

These people wanted these lumps and bumps (cysts) removed.  In the operating room I was in, we only had access to local anesthetic.  At times, the patients were stiffening their bodies as not to move.  They squinted their eyes hard and they pursed their lips.  No one complained.  No one whimpered.  They wanted these procedures done.  They waited in very long lines for their turn.  They were very tough, and they were always very grateful.

One other thing I wanted to share.  There was one case that I observed that defied any expectations that I thought we would see on this trip.  Since I really and truly have no medical training, I had never heard of this condition.   A child was brought in, and I think he was about 6 months old.  Maybe a year.  The first diagnosis was in the form of a question -- Ambiguous Genitalia?  Those words are pretty easy to understand if you say them slowly.  But how did they come to that conclusion?  Well, I got to see all the evidence, and it was simple to understand when you saw the inconsistency.  This child had the genitalia of both a boy and a girl.  The doctors decided to send him for genetic testing to see what chromosomes he/she carried.  We had to leave the Philippines without knowing.  Wow.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Why Medical?

The medical mission group from Kansas City is so very kind to include me (a non-medical person) on their trip.  I am really interested in all things medical.  I have somewhat doctored my whole family for years.  The whole contingent helps raise funds throughout the year, so I have done that from afar.  But I am one of the few individuals that participates that has no medical training or affiliation.    I was able to get involved through my friend, Rosa, who lives in a nearby community.

I already have scrubs, (they will probably come in handy for a Halloween party sometime), so this year I sprung for a super-cool stethoscope.  --  Yes, I know how to use it.  In fact, after this mission, I know how to use several medical tools and pieces of equipment.  More on that coming up.  --  If I may say so, at least I looked the part. 
My buddy who made the name tags even put RN on mine.  Now if you don't think that got me through some closed doors...  I found that I was most interested in small surgeries.  We had 3-4 doctors doing those, and several times during those procedures, a doctor would look at me and ask for a Metzenbaum or a curved Mayo, and eventually I learned those were kinds of scissors.  Our tools were somewhat limited, so when asked for a 15 scalpel, I had to say, "Will a 10 work?  We are out of 15's."  If you have ever been on a mission trip, you know the key word is flexibility.
Here is my "boss" in the Bukol Clinic, Ma. Elena.  She let me do things I was capable of, and she kept me away from things I didn't have any business doing.  No one wanted to admit that we liked being in this room because of the air conditioner on the wall, but it made things so much more comfortable.  The conditions were not anywhere near what you would find in an operating room here at home, much less a doctor's office.  We had to invent a sterile field for the tools, due to lack of supplies.  I learned how to scrub and sterilize tools -- using what we had.  Ma. Elena prayed constantly because we didn't have access to so many things.  We all prayed.  Here, she is trying to create privacy for two patients being operated on at the same time.  Both were awake.  We only used local anesthetic here, because we did not have another anesthesiologist.  The light was not very good, and it was only on that side of the room.

By the time I left the mission trip, I was ready to perform some surgery.  Chief has this very small knot on his leg that annoys him.  It has been there a long time.  Heck, I told him if I just had some peroxide, Lidocaine, a #15 scalpel and some sutures, I could easily take care of that for him.  I even felt like with the right kind of sutures, I could make an invisible scar.  I was shot down.  He honestly thought I was kidding.

All of this is just a story that never ends....


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Medical Mission Trip 2015

Again this year, I went on the medical mission trip to the Philippines with a group from Kansas City.  We traveled to the province of Leyte in the Visayas, and we worked in a town called Ormoc City.  The Philippines is made up of over 7,000 islands, and although this island wasn't tiny, a ferry was required to get us there.
We worked in the Ormoc District Hospital (which means it wasn't private and took primarily those people who could not pay.)
Although the community was small, it was usually an exciting journey to the hospital each day.  I believe I told you previously that the lines painted on the road are merely a suggestion.  We rode in personal vehicles belonging to the Rotarians in the area; we took small open-air buses; we rode in tricycles (motorcycles that are modified with a third wheel and are capable of carrying 5-7 people); and the Philippine Army even delivered some of our personnel to work at the hospital.
It's okay.  We weren't afraid.  When you load one of these tricycles up with 6-7 people, they travel at a top speed of approximately 10 mph.

I do not have the final numbers about how many patients we saw and/or treated, but at night our feet sure did hurt.  Sleep came easy.  This story will continue....


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Things you don't know about Lily....

Random thoughts from Lily...

Admission of fact:  I allow him to do things like this to me.  
I can act clueless when I have to...

1.     I have been fingerprinted.  You could never guess why.  Not to shoot a gun.  Not because I was in jail.  Nothing to do with a federal building, or my drivers' license.

2.     I LOVE a fire in the fireplace.  Or in a fire pit.  Or in an old stove.  Heck, give me a candle.

3.     I really enjoy makeup and skin care, but I love a day or two when I can stay home and not put on a lick of anything -- other than moisturizer.  Oh, and it must smell delicious.

4.     You may already know this.  I really enjoy iced tea.  Don't put anything in it, please.  Have you heard about the germs on lemons?  Forget the spoon.  I don't do sweet tea.  I like light fruit or island flavored (very lightly) teas.

5.     I love it when I can go somewhere and drive the speed limit.  Thank you for not texting while you drive 5 m.p.h. in front of me.  Thank you for not talking on the phone and sitting at a 4 way stop with no idea that everyone is waiting on you.  No need to break any rules, just would like to get there, please.

6.     A reconciled checkbook on the first try always gets a certain prayer of thanks.  Numbers aren't really my thing, so the less snags the better.  Love it when that happens.  Always a miracle.

7.     I have a soft place in my heart for cattle dogs.  We have had at least one of each kind, and they are so sweet.  They are precious to kids, they are so eager to please -- they are awesome puppies if you ever get the chance to raise one.  Chief is an excellent dog trainer.  Our latest cattle dog, an Australian Shepherd, is so sweet and she obeys so well, we have recently let her start spending the evenings in the house.  She goes to her "place" -- two rugs, she knows which ones.  And we don't hear a peep out of her.  She just wants to be where we are.  And happily she spends nights in the garage.

8.     Flashlight fetish.  Kinda weird, but I love and collect flashlights.  Medium to small flashlights.  My family makes so much fun of me.

9.      I defend Chief when people make fun of him for taking a snack to the shower every night.   Seriously.  Who cares?  It's funny.

10.    I absolutely love my Dad's book recommendations.  And my sister's.  And my sister-in-law's.  Dad is a speed reader, so he leaves me in the dust, but I am considering a speed reading course... might actually need it.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Lily leaves....

Very soon, I am leaving.  Part medical mission trip and part vacation.  Heck, it's all vacation.  I went last year on this same mission trip.  It's with a group of physicians and nurses from Kansas City and a few miscellaneous non-medical personnel, like me.  Either they don't know I am missing the medical background, or they want me there to provide comic relief.  Last year was such a great time, meeting so many new friends and learning so many interesting things.  Did I say we were going to the Philippines?

This year, I will be posting on the blog again.  Not sure when we will have great internet, or even adequate internet.  A couple of different options will be pursued.  On Facebook, the group's page is one place I have been asked to update as often as possible.  The assumption of internet availability is loosely taken seriously.  You just never know.

Now here is our fearless leader, Lillian.  Dr. Lillian.  She rocks.  She takes care of every tiny detail.  No stone is left unturned.  She has already been in touch with us after arriving over the weekend.  There are some roads that are impassable, and our group has already been re-routed.  She is a firecracker.
 And here are a few more of the hard working crew.  I think we took a load off while we were waiting for a door to get unlocked.  Doesn't matter if you are at Walmart in the United States, or in a hospital in the Philippines, sometimes you just have to be patient and wait.
Can't wait to see everyone!  Several of our group cannot come this year.  I am disappointed about that, but I know that we will soon be reconnecting and catching up with one another.  Can't wait!