Performing international surgical outreach missions to help the world’s most disadvantaged patients overcome the disability imposed by disease is an extremely rewarding experience. Missions are challenging, varying in their length, level of working and living conditions and the surgery performed. Despite the rigors of mission work, there has not been a mission where members of the medical team did not find the experience to be life changing.
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Laurie McCombs, 53, has dealt with sinus problems nearly all of her adult life. Clogged sino-nasal passages made it difficult for her to breathe at night, and the congestion caused morning pressure headaches. Over-the-counter and prescription antihistamines muted her symptoms but did not address their cause. At the age of 40, she decided to take the advice of friends who had experienced relief with acupuncture. Now McCombs follows the advice of the acupuncturist, who diagnosed her with allergies to dairy products and yeast, by limiting her intake of breads and milk products. She also continues to take loratadine and has found saline irrigation with the neti pot helpful in clearing her sinuses.
Ever since the first fully equipped otolaryngology team was sent to the Air Force Theater Hospital (AFTH) in Balad, Iraq in 2004, an otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeon has become a permanent member of any deployed multispecialty head and neck team, working alongside a neurosurgeon, ophthalmologist and oral and maxillofacial surgeon.