Our eye surgery mission - a week of cataract and pterygium surgeries that follows up the general medical mission - always begins with a good long list of people who qualify for surgery, according to our optometrists, and who say that yes, they want to have the surgery. But year after year, we've seen only half the people on our list show up, in spite of info calls and transportation provided. We have gathered that people are frightened, and that often their families discourage them from going.
Last year we asked Iris Chacon, our wonderful coordinator for San Rafael Cedros, how she thought we could do better, and she suggested that we have a meeting for everyone on the list where they could ask questions and could hear from someone who had the surgery.
So this year, we invited everyone who qualified for surgery to come to the meeting, held last Sunday in the biggest school in Estanzuelas - and we had a great crowd! There were probably about 75 people there, 47 of them patients on our list, to hear Lito of San Rafael Cedros talk about his successful cataract surgery, to hear Iris talk about the importance of family support, to hear Darren sum up the steps they would be going through on their surgery day and to hear Marvin remind them where to gather on the morning of the surgery.
Here's Marvin with a very old gentleman who moved right up next to him to hear everything clearly:
And then we got the questions! Can I still sleep in a hammock? How long does my father have to wait after hernia surgery before he has eye surgery? Do I have to keep my head turned up to the sky for two weeks? Is there a special diet I have to follow? We were able to put many fears to rest!
And there were a lot of internal conversations, for example among this group of women who checked up with each other about everything that was said:
So thank you, Iris, for steering us in the right direction. Having a pre-meeting for the surgery patients will be part of our practice from now on!