The thoughts of a woman trying to live simply yet abundantly, contentedly yet expectantly, wisely yet adventurously... all for His glory.


VVF by the numbers

I don't tend to like numbers much; I prefer words. Words make sense to me, whereas numbers have any number of troublesome qualities like imaginary and irrational.

But I thought I might share with you some numbers now that all the VVF surgeries are over and done with and all of our ladies are journeying home.

Learning how to make soap while staying at the Hospitality Center either before or after surgery. The Hospitality Center is for patients who are from too far away to travel back and forth to the ship.

Why am I using numbers instead of words to talk about VVF? Good question. The truth is that I've had such a different role this year than I did last year when I was in the thick of things, so to speak. I pantomimed questions to my patients when no one spoke their language. I emptied catheters by the hundred. I learned to see things with new eyes through relationships with patients like Eugenie. I shared in the joys and sorrows of women I knew by name, simply because I was their nurse.

But this year was different. I've had two jobs, both of which were administrative. As a charge nurse, my main responsibility was to look after the nurses and to keep the shift running as smoothly as possible. As the Assistant VVF Coordinator (big fancy title, I know!) my job was to help handle paperwork, keep track of data, and be a clinical resource for the nurses.

So instead of stories, right now all I can offer you are numbers. But believe me, the numbers tell their own story!
  • We did VVF surgery on a total of 99 women (many of them had more than one operation, too--that brings the total up to 119 surgeries on those 99 women). 
  • Of those surgeries, 90% were successful (the fistula was closed and the woman was dry). That is exceptional, because VVF surgery is highly specialized and is always, always difficult.
  • Thanks to a generous loan of a bladder scanner (a specialized ultrasound machine that measures how much urine is in the bladder), we were able to detect and treat urinary retention in our patients. (Urinary retention is a common post-op complication and can cause infection or failure of the repair. Without a scanner, the only way to check for retention is to insert a catheter into the bladder, which poses a risk of infection. And of course it's miserable for the patient!) 
  • Using the bladder scanner meant that we caught and treated the 22% of our patients who developed retention after surgery. Look at it another way: we saved 78% of our patients from needing catheters inserted after their operation! 
(Let me pause to offer a belated apology for talking about catheters and bladders and urinary retention. I should probably consider having a "medical disclaimer" on my blog somewhere.)

So although the numbers don't tell the whole story, they do show this: all of the surgeons, all of the nurses, and every one of you who prayed for these women-- you did well. God used each of us to pour love and life and hope into their lives. I wish you could have seen them, standing in front of a crowded room in a new dress to praise the Lord for being dry. I wish you could have heard the drums pound and seen shoulders lift in dance and smiles radiate joy.

The numbers just don't do it justice.

I first met Rosali (in green) last year in Benin... her surgeries that year failed. But she returned to the ship this year and is now dry! Also pictured is Clementine, a patient discipler & counselor on board who loves the ladies with every iota of her being.


deb said...

such beauty.
And in my rush to use minute hours of an always too short day, fretting and doing,
is the stuff that matters. Giving.

bless you for sharing today.

BusyBees42 said...

Thanks so much for sharing this, Lefty!!! What an awesome depiction of hope and healing!!!