Our August trip/Dr. Retson’s 40th Mission

Many people ask what it’s like to go on a medical trip, and across the board our team members find that it is hard to describe them.  There are not words sufficient to explain not only the wonderful feeling of helping people truly in need, but describing the conditions, the stories, and the people we meet. Each trips renews how grateful we are to live the lives we do – to have modern hospitals, schools, and homes, and to have access to doctors of any specialty needed.   Healing, Health, & Hope’s August trip to Jinotega, Nicaragua marked Dr. Nicholas Retson’s 40th trip, so in honor of that, here are 40 short facts about the trip to give you a little flavor of what we were up to that week (click for larger images):

  1. This was our team’s first time in Nicaragua in the month of August.

    Leaving Jinotega, Nicaragua in August

  2. We had the chance to enjoy Nicaragua’s rainy season on our daily walks to and from the hospital.rainyplayground
  3. Our hotel in Nicaragua is only four blocks from the hospital.Hospital
  4. We had three new members of the team to successfully undergo our secret initiation ceremony.Initiation
  5. This trip marked the 5th time at the same hospital in Jinotega.
  6. We’ve made some lasting friendships with the staff there over the years, and it’s always exciting to see them again!grouphoto
  7. We fly into Miami, then take the 3 ½ hour flight to Nicaragua,AirplaneHealingHealthandhope
  8. Then we ride on a bus for about three hours to get to Jinotega.thewheelsonthebus
  9. We screened 29 patients on Saturday evening,prescreenday
  10. Which was after nearly 24 hours of travel for our team to arrive in Jinotega.MiguelDrRavella
  11. Sunday brought us 87 additional patients to screen to find our best surgery candidates.Waitingroom2
  12. We usually are given an outside clinic next to the hospital for surgery, but this time we shared the regular hospital.Dr Retson HHH gown
  13. Our anesthesiologist for this trip, Dr. Raja Ravella, celebrated his birthday that week,
  14. Complete with two birthday cakesBirthdaycake
  15. That we happily shared with the hospital staff who helped us all week.sharing cake
  16. Our youngest patient having surgery was 6 months oldDilan - Nicaragua 2014.08
  17. Our oldest patient was 87 years youngJoseandDave
  18. We performed surgery on 10 patients with cleft palatesAlexanderCleftPalate
  19. And 13 patients with cleft lipsEverCleftLip
  20. There are often stray dogs wandering the halls of the hospital.
  21. We once even saw a skunk!
  22. The skunk cleared the hallways where ever he went.
  23. There were several prisoners (and armed guards) staying at the hospital that week–one of the prisoners escaped and was roaming the hallway naked (sorry, no photo here!).
  24. Many of our patients were from a town so far away that the only way to get there is by walking or helicopterMiskito
  25. All of these patients got to us by walking for daysYaxianddollie
  26. The patients and their families from this region, the Miskito Coast, did not speak English or Spanish!Yansi
  27. Instead they speak a language called MiskitoGabrielaandFather
  28. This made pre and post-operation instructions and questioning difficult, but as always, where there’s a will, there’s a way!YansiCrazyHair
  29. Many of our team members had the chance to practice their charades skills
  30. We got to witness a piñata ceremony at the pediatric ward one day

    One of our patients in Jinotaga participating in a pinata ceremony!

  31. Gela, our little Nicaraguan girl who came to the US for surgery last year, was brought in by her mother againGelaMichelle
  32. Gela received a successful surgery for her cleft palate this tripGelaMom
  33. Gela also brought her sister and niece to meet us!GelasSisterandNiece
  34. We had a little patient named Mileydi, pronounced “m’lady”.Mileydi - Nicaragua 2014.08
  35. Our doctors also did some consultations for Nicaraguan doctors of patients already checked into the hospital to provide them with their medical opinions.Foot Nevus
  36. We started each day at 8 in the morningMorningJinotega
  37. And ended whenever we finished our cases- usually 11 PM or later!fullmoon
  38. All in all, we worked for over 75 hours in the week-long tripNancyNick
  39. And performed 44 procedures on children and adultsEver - Nicaragua 2014.08
  40. We all had a great time, accomplished a lot, and can’t wait to come back to Jinotega in February!KarlaSwing
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