Today was our clinic day. The word had been spread throughout Peru that there was a plastic surgery mission going on. That the Americans were in town to "fix" cleft palates and cleft lips". So when the team arrived at the hospital this morning there was a line of people waiting to be seen. We hadn't even set the clinic up yet. Each of the four surgeons, their nurses and anesthesiologist needed to set up their exam room, there was a room to take vital statistics a room for the pediatric nurses and doctors to conduct exams, the intake and waiting room, the dental room etc, etc, etc. Some were there for the most simple of plastic surgery procedures; to to get rid of that tell tale sign of what was a cleft lip or palate surgery, that small scar on the lip or to repair some of the most severe clefts like the bi-lateral cleft lip and palate. From 3 months old to 36 years old they came from miles away to be seen and to be "fixed". There are so many stories to tell, but one truly melted my heart - his name is Anderson and he is 6 years old. Anderson has fused hands and feet. His toes are fused together, but he appears to walk just fine, his fingers are fused together so his mother has to feed him among other things that she has to tend to. He also has cranial deformities. What is it about Anderson that touched me so? Okay, I will admit the fact that he took the "fighting Duck" sticker that I gave him and then stuck it on his forehead and gave me the funniest face ever probably endeared me to him forever. But he was such a clown and so happy. His mom just really wants him to be able to do more things on his own. There is a lot of work to be done on Anderson, but it simply cannot all be done in the short amount of time we are here in Lima, but "Dr. David" is going to do the best that he can to improve Anderson's (and his mom's) quality of life. This Friday "Dr. David" will will do a skin graft on Anderson, taking skin from his hips and give Anderson thumbs and perhaps pinkie fingers so that he has hands that he can work with. Perhaps when Anderson has those working thumbs I can come back and teach him how to hold up both of those hands and give a big Oregon OOOOOOOOOOOOO. One day.
In all 76 patients were processed through the clinic today. Not all of them will have surgery over the next two weeks, but many of them will. Every moment I learn something new. I must thank the doctors and the nurses who have taught me so much in such a short amount of time. I love when the doctor says to me, "hey Joelle, come take a look at this", then shines the flashlight into a kids mouth and proceeds to explain to me what a bi-lateral cleft palate or a partial cleft palate, full cleft palate or what hyper-tuberism is. I love that I can ask questions of them and get an answer that I can really understand. We are 26 individuals that have been thrown together and we are becoming a team in very short order. Becoming a team that is changing the lives of some of the most vulnerable individuals.
|End of the day. Part of our very tired but silly team.|