Our first day at the hospital was one of pure joy. The reception was loving. The patients were appreciative. There was a sense that this was where we were supposed to be at that moment and that our entire lives were a preparation for this day. We did nerve decompressive surgery on both the upper and lowere extremities in patients with Hansen’s disease. We worked simultaneously on opposite upper and lower extremities with the Hand society member performing neurolyses of the radial, median and ulnar nerves as needed (carpal tunnel, cubical tunnel and radial tunnel releases). The surgeons of the Periferal Nerve Society performed soleal sling, common femoral nerve and tarsal tunnel releases. Surgeries were done to decompress inflamed Periferal nerves to prevent further deformity and to relive pain as well as increase both sensation and strength.
One of the joys was sharing ideas, techniques and perspectives in a collegial and mutually respectful attitude with the brilliant and well trained plastic surgery fellow, hand surgery attending and the surgical resident participating in the surgeries today.
Dr. Andres Rivadineirva is a third year plastics fellow with a deep interest in nerve compressive surgery. He has published 10 year follow up on neurolyses in Hansen,s patients documenting impressive improvement in strength and sensation and prevention of ongoing deformities and tissue loss. He scrubbed in today Anne we shared aprroaches and surgical techniques. His attending hand surgeon Dr Lorena Escudero likewise scrubbed in and shared her expertise. Working with them was pure delight.
Our anesthesia teams came with us from the States and provided seem less safe surgery. Of note, turnover times were great and the hospital had the supplies we were unable to bring including absorbable suture. (The excess supplies of suture in the State has gone to the relief areas of Syria.)
Support from Damien House and the Rostro de Cristo organization has provided material as well as loving moral support to our endeavors.
The days are full and sleep has been inadequate but the sense of happiness and peace is remarkable. Everyone is looking forward to the coming opportunities to both give and receive the bounties of this service.