Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Leonardo - Rosa!

I'm just getting back for the day at 9pm. There were 3 surgeries today, so it was very busy for the team. I have so much to type, so many pictures to share. You'd better grab a cup of coffee and a snack before starting this one.

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I'm finding that some things I'm putting out of my mind. We all know I can't handle crying, so you'll understand why I forgot about this for a day.

Yesterday as we were walking in, I saw a man carrying a small body covered with a sheet. All I could see was a curly tuft of black hair sticking out of the top of the sheet. My initial fear was that it was our little 5 month old who had surgery on Monday.

After stepping into the ICU, I was relieved to see that it wasn't him. But my heart broke knowing that it was still someone's child.

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Today the ECHO procedures moved into a different room. The pre- and post-op room. (It's the same room) After the 2nd ECHO started, they wheeled a boy who was around 10 years old into the room. He was moaning and did not stop. All I wanted to do was comfort him - but there was nothing I could do. They eventually moved him, but that sound haunted me for the rest of the day.

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Emily B - this is for you. I saw the 14 year old smile today - 24 hours post-op. I'm pretty sure she thought I was a nut bar because I started crying. I just couldn't help myself. After seeing the pained look on her face yesterday, it was a beautiful thing to see that wide smile today. This afternoon she told me, through a translator, that while it was still a little hard to breathe, she wasn't in pain. Praise the Lord, right?

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I started to compile a list of things you have to get used to when you travel outside the comforts of the US. Here goes.

1 - Don't drink a lot on the weekends. There isn't any toilet paper at the hospital on the weekends.

2 - Speaking of TP, it can't be flushed here. Septic systems can't handle it. (Try breaking the habit of flushing toilet paper...then let your mind wander to what you have to do with it if you can't flush it.)

3 - After the first roll of paper towels runs out, don't expect to see any more.

4 - The door knob on the way out of the bathroom will always be wet. See #3. Don't question what the liquid is.

5 - Lunch will be served in a room the size of a standard bathroom. Everyone will be in the room - surgeons, nurses, cardiologists, perfusionists (yah, I know what that is) and even crazy ladies they let tag along on mission trips.

6 - Be daring - and just try it. You might actually enjoy it.

7 - Expect the air to be on and the windows to be open. The occasional wasp flying into the room next to the ICU doesn't phase anyone.

8 - Hot coffee is poured into tiny plastic cups. When you see people with only 1/2 a cup, there's a reason. I realized that after burning my fingers.
9 - Try the brown colored sugar in your coffee. It's delicious!

10 - Don't be shocked when 24-hours after having open-heart surgery you see a little one eating potato chips. (That's for you medical folks.)

11 - If you can wash dishes, you can wash surgical instruments.

12 - Remember that no matter what language you speak, a lollypop will always make a child smile.

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The power went out 4 times today. Random. Just had to tell you that. I guess that's #13 on what to expect. A really awesome ICU nurse named Amanda, who I LOVE, walked out of the ICU wide-eyed and told me how much it sucks when the power goes out. I kinda figured it would suck. :-)

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The absolute highlight of my day came after this little guy's surgery.
His name is Leonardo, and he had Tetrology of Fallot. You can Google it. It's pretty darn complex. This little guy has been blue since he was born. His finger-tips and lips were so blue when I first met him.

The moment happened around 8pm. I was allowed to go get Leonardo's mother so she could see him for the first time post-op. I knew enough Spanish to tell her - no more azul. Leonardo rosa! His lips and fingers are now pink.
She started to cry as I directed her back to the ICU. The look on her face when she saw him will forever be burned into memory. I pulled back his blanket to reveal his now pink fingers.

Leonardo - Rosa!

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