Surgery Week

Surgery Team 2014

This past week was surgery week!

Every year, in February, a group of 15-20 doctors come to Opal House/Guatemala and perform surgeries for the children of Guatemala. This is the biggest week of the year for all! These doctors are Pediatrists, Orthopedists, X-Ray Techs, and some nurses. The main problems the people in Guatemala face are with their feet and their legs. They wear shoes with no support, and the roads are terrible here. They walk far distances, and usually with a lot of weight on their back. Or, the men are avocado farmers, and they fall from the trees or get an injury on the job. For the most part, whenever someone has an injury, treatment is avoided. Mostly because they can not afford it, or they are uneducated and don’t understand how important it is.

During the consult day, where ALL the patients came in to get a check up, and be assessed for surgery, Jackeline and I volunteered to help with this day! We were in charge of checking all 55 of the patients in, and filling out paperwork, and a spreadsheet in the computer. It was quite the task, but we did a great job and had quite an assembly going. I was grateful to meet the patients, and be part of this week. Knowing that during the actually surgery week, I would be busy helping out at the school. I had to fight back tears quite a few times. Here are some of the situations of these children….

  • One baby without a femur. Completely missing the bone.
  • One boy who is six years old but is the size of a 1-2 year old, with club feet who can barely walk.
  • Many children with club feet who cannot walk correctly.
  • A girl who fell from a tree three years ago, who did not get treatment, and now can barely walk.
  • Tumors bigger than golf balls in their legs and arms.
  • One boy who has an infection so bad in his feet, and the only option is to remove his feet.

Needless to say, the doctors were very busy!

They performed close to 40 big surgeries this week. Some children were able to walk for the first time this week. Some children were saved from amputations. It is truly amazing the work that took place. It was beautiful to see how grateful the families were, and some of them were borderline tears as well.

It was such a pleasure to be around the doctors. Their personalities were so different, and they all had such a positive experience here. The week flew by, and was truly inspiring!

I feel like a different Maren. I was so confident around all of the doctors who were strangers to me. We had 10 people living here with us at Opal House, and I was so outgoing and chatting it up with all of them daily! I even feel confident speaking Spanish with Jackeline in front of them. I can feel myself changing, I can feel myself growing, and becoming the confident care-free girl I want to be. I am loving these changes, and loving myself more and more every day.

With a group of five of the doctors, we all decided to go zip lining today in Panajachel!

There were two options. The Basic Cables, of seven runs, or the EXTREME cables, with seven runs. They recommend starting with the basic to get a feel for it. BUT, of course we just decided to spend the money and go for the extreme cables. They are called extreme because the two longest runs are close to a half a mile long! I was surprisingly not very scared to do this, but instead, very excited. It only cost us $50 for seven runs! Quite the deal. These extreme cables are the longest in all of central america! Even longer than the runs in Costa Rica.

Of course I get stuck on the LONGEST run, which was only our second run. After the first one, I thought wow this is easy! But then this second one, was more than twice the length. The reason I got stuck is because I didn’t have enough weight/momentum to get my across. I was only a few yards short or something, but trust me that is enough to make you nervous. Usually you come flying all the way through till the person stops you on the ground. But no, I was hanging out on the wire, alone, and had to put my hands up on the cable and literally pull myself in. Talk about making your heart sink to your toes!

What an amazing experience. It was a great hike, view, and thrill! I loved it! I don’t regret doing the extreme cables for a second! They were worth it, and honestly not THAT scary. I felt very safe, as long as I made it safely to the other side! It was another great experience for my Spanish. I was chatting it up with our tour guide. AND, I was the translator for our group. It was an amazing weekend, and great experience.

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