Frantina was scheduled to have surgery on Wednesday the 11th of April. I made th-e trip to Santo Domingo and as usually for me, had a LONG bus ride from Haiti. Others make that trip in 7 or 8 hours, I usually make it in 10! I don’t know how I get so lucky!
Frantina had to be admitted to the hospital on Tuesday afternoon. They don’t provide anything at the hospital. You have to bring your own sheets, food for the caregivers, pillow, diapers, medication, etc.
We had been at the hospital some time, when the doctor told Katie MacGregor that Frantina needed one unit of blood from the Red Cross. They said that we needed to go buy a unit of blood. When we finally found the Red Cross, we go in and ask to buy a unit of blood. “NO WA”Y, they said! We had to provide a volunteer to give a unit for the one we would receive.
Katie volunteered, but when they talked to her they said she couldn’t give because she had contact with Frantina and Frantina had Tuberculosis. We explained that she was not contagious, because she had been on medication for over 2 months. Then he explained that it was also because Katie had been in Haiti and their policy was no blood from anyone who had visited Haiti in the last 6 months. Well, that left all of us out! None of us could give.
Finally, the doctor took pity on us and let us have one unit of blood for her surgery and asked us if we could find one person who had not been in Haiti, to please send them to give blood. They gave us the blood in a Styrofoam container and we had to take it back to the hospital for them to hold for her surgery.
Frantina could not have anything to eat after 10 PM on Tuesday night. It was very strange having the anesthesiologist come to ask us questions and we couldn’t communicate with him.
You have to have lived in a third world country to understand how it is in a hospital ward. Everyone makes YOUR business their business. So everyone is there trying to help with the questions and answers. I don’t care how many times different people ask the same question in Spanish….it will always be SPANISH, and we don’t understand!!!! We did understand that she was not to eat after 10 PM and she would go to surgery at 8 AM. Katie spent the night with Frantina at the hospital and she said Frantina did not sleep hardly at all because of all of the noise in the ward. She didn’t cry; she just talked all night!
At midnight, everyone stops what they are doing and sing and pray. The kids and their moms are noisy. Frantina is not used to the noise anymore. She has lived since January in a quiet house of grown ups!
Vivianne and I arrived at the hospital at 7:30 AM to see Frantina before she went into surgery. Around 8 AM, the head nurse came in and everyone stopped what they were doing and she prayed for all of the kids going for surgery this morning. It was so moving and wonderful and we said that this was the hospital where we were supposed to be!
The doctor had two emergency surgeries on Wednesday and so a major case that was scheduled that was supposed to be done on Wednesday had to be postponed until today. That meant that Frantina did not have her surgery today. The doctor was really sorry, but this other little boy had waited 3 months in hospital to have his surgery done.
The doctor was going to keep Frantina in the hospital but I persuaded him to let her go home. There was NO WAY Katie and Vivianne wanted to sleep in that uncomfortable chair by her bed for a week!
He said to me when I went back into pre-op to talk to him that he was postponing her surgery. He said he could not do it on Friday, because he could not get an anesthesiologist on Friday. He said it would have to be next Wednesday. We could take her home and bring he back on Tuesday afternoon.
We signed no papers; nor filled out any forms. It seemed very strange to Katie and I compared to life in the USA and Australia! But before we could go, another doctor came in and told me that Dr. Sanchez wanted to see me back in surgery.
I went back into the Operating area and he came out of surgery and sat with me and explained that he had been thinking and will not do all of her surgery at one time. He said it will be very difficult and serious. He will need another surgeon to assist during the procedure. He said that they will have to go from the front and from the back to remove the mass and stabilize her spine. The mass is sitting on top of her spinal cord behind her lung. They have to remove all of the mass (Tuberculosis), clean it all out, remove any bone fragments from her vertebrae, and then put metal rods into her spine.
He said that it will take him most of the day and he wants to be fresh when he starts the surgery. he had not planned on doing it this way, so I am very happy that he thought about it more and decided to just do one surgery and not two. But I am concerned after having talked to him about the seriousness of the operation. I look around that hospital and think “How are they going to recover her here? I see no ventilators, chest tubes, etc. Those are questions I will ask him Monday when I talk to him.
He gave me a list of things for her surgery that I needed to go, find, and buy. Who would have thought that Santo Domingo has a Medi Implante company? They had the things on the list, but the price was astronomical! Dr. Sanchez had told me that it would be expensive, but he thought it would cost about $2500 USD. It was $6200 USD after a 12% discount because we do not have insurance for Frantina! (They brought me the quote of RD$242,000 and I did gasp! Was a little better after she converted it into USD but not much!) My heart just about stopped! Who can afford to buy things like this if you don’t have any money?
The doctor at the implant office saw my shock and took pity on us and gave us a 20% discount which brought it down to $5800. (Trying to get the money through our credit card into a Dominican Bank is another whole story that I won’t share, but will just say that I was rather angry with my credit card people and tears in the lobby of the bank happened! The stress and the credit card people’s lack of sympathy was too much for my nerves!)
After watching a video on how they will remove the mass and put the rods on her spine, we have a much greater appreciation of the severity of this surgery.
We have had some tears today and have experienced an awful feeling of helplessness. But we also know that God’s hands are on this child. God’s hand will guide the doctor’s hands and your prayers will see her safely through. I have to believe God has seen us through to this point and will be there to give us strength through out this whole surgery and recovery period. God will have His angels in that surgery suite from the first cut to the last stitch when sowing up the incisions.
But please above all, pray for Frantina and the doctors who be doing her surgery next week.
P.S. Note from Tom - we've had some donations that were sent in "off line" but we could still really use your help in paying for her medical care!
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