Myanmar - Operating Room - Part 3
It was time for Dr. Chu to get involved in surgery. Two patients with cataracts were recruited from the clinic, and he examined them with handheld flashlights in the pre-op area. Each carried her own paper medical record in her hand. Three beds in one room constituted the pre-op holding area, where patients received anesthetic before surgery. Dr. Chu does a final examination of the eye, using a handheld flashlight.
It is time to scrub and gown up! Sterile technique is followed here, and Dr. Chu dons a full sterile gown and gloves after scrubbing twice at the sink.
All eyes are on him as he starts the phacoemulsification cataract case, with the Burmese doctors keenly interested in gathering any pearls of technique or wisdom from Dr. Chu’s experienced hands. Dr. Chu opts to use a different technique, small incision cataract surgery, on the second patient. Dr. Jeff Rutgard watches under the microscope, as he has logged many years of experience doing this technique in developing countries around the world, where phacoemulsification instruments are not available. One observation shared by Dr. Chu is that the Burmese eyes have smaller anatomical dimensions than the typical American’s. This difference in anatomy made for some surgical challenges which were overcome with calm persistence and expert hands in the operating room.
Both patients are doing well immediately after surgery, and expressing gratitude for their surgeon. In the clinic the next day, we are happy to see all of the patients again, some with their families. While we cannot understand the words we speak to each other, the feelings are expressed through body language, smiles, and all of the ingredients of human connection that transcend borders and nationalities. Medical care forms a bridge and is a universal language of human compassion.