So today was chaotic but a really great day! The morning was spent running around trying to locate, assess, and clear patients for surgery. There were several cancellations due to low hemoglobin, sickness, and other lab or scan results. There were also two no shows.
It was really hard to watch our Pediatric Intensivist tell a family they could not have surgery today. The dad and child were already in my area, with an i.v., thinking they were going to surgery, when they had to tell the father no due to a low hemoglobin. The dad understood and was great about it, but it broke my heart for him and the mom. I hope they will return to another mission to try again!
So, a less number of surgeries, but more tricky ones. Palate day is always rough because the surgery is more extensive, takes longer, and there is a higher probability for complications.
The first group of surgeries were eight tiny, sweet, little babies (including my Randolph) all having lips repaired. The majority of the rest of the day was all palates.
My third set of patients were all older,15 and up, who needed their palate repaired. Here in the states that would be done in the first couple months after birth. When the palate is open, the person not only has to adjust the way they eat, but their speech is highly affected!
So, to be a teenager or young adult still needing a palate repair is not going to be easy, and a lot of the patients think it is going to instantly fix how they talk. Unfortunately that is not the case. Without speech therapy and a lot if practice, their life may not change as much as they hoped it would.
My friend Wilson is one if these gentleman that had surgery today! I pray for his sake that he is not disappointed that this surgery does not simply fix his way of communicating. I am very glad he got a chance to have surgery so he will know that maybe his speech will improve, but after 26 years of an open palate, that is going to take a lot of dedication and persistence.
On a happier note, I have to brag on the three Bolivian students we have here with us on the trip. For a high school student to get a chance to go on an Operation Smile trip takes hard work, money, and fundraising. They have to go to a big meeting with other students to train on topics that they then have to present on all week. Nutrition, burn care, hand washing, hydration , and dental care.
This is my sixth mission, and I think these ladies have to be the best students I have ever worked with! They have theme days for the whole team, which we have really gotten into, and will do anything you ask them to do! Not to mention their student leader is energetic, fun, and supportive.
So far the themes have been smile hero, we all received capes, big tie day, and funky glasses day. Who knows what tomorrow will have in store!
They travelled today to a school for the deaf and intellectually challenged, and will also be going to a local orphanage on Thursday. They not only did their presentations but also took activities for the kids as well.
Highlights from today:
Wilson and Randolph having surgery.
Mary Joy hanging out with me!
Simply bonding with patients and families! I love walking into the ward and having the kids and families wave and smile at me.
Being able to see kids before and after surgery. Smiles on parents faces when you admire their child, even before surgery, but definitely after.
Having dinner with Speech Therapist Janet
See the before and after shots below!
Mostly lips, because hard to see difference with palates! After the swelling is down and they are more awake, it truly is amazing the difference!