Haiti 2011 – Surgery: Day 3

Most of us started out the day asking “what day is it again?” which is an indication of how hard and fast we’ve been running. And we’ve been on our feet for so long most of us have rather impressive cankles. For future volunteers on this mission, may we suggest compression stockings?

We started at 8:30 again this morning but thankfully were able to get through all 5 clefts and 3 hernias by 8 p.m. this evening. We did end up moving two cases from today to tomorrow to even out the schedule, so we’ll have 8 tomorrow as well; three are scheduled for Saturday.

Trish Cabrera, our floor nurse for this trip, deserves to be highlighted today. For the past three days, Trish has been on the floor keeping tabs on the children awaiting surgery, those arriving for surgery, and those recovering from their procedures. We all agree that Trish has one of the most difficult jobs on the trip: monitoring, vitals, charting, IV’s, meds, parents’ questions, the crying, wound care and making sure the kids don’t rip out their stitches, discharge coordination— the list goes on. The floor is definitely the most patient intensive aspect of the mission, and when you consider the language barrier as well as the differences in practices, not to mention the temperature on the ward has to be well over 90 degrees, this position is certainly one of the most intense jobs on the mission and we (well the children, really) are lucky to have someone so dedicated, passionate, and skilled working on the floor.

Trish is doing an amazing job on the floor een with everything she has on her plate. The one saving grace for this position though might be that she gets to witness the parents reactions when they see their child for the first time when they return to the floor after surgery. The reunion is always very emotional, filled with gratitude and relief. It is priceless to witness. One of our patients today was a very small girl with a cleft lip who, for various reasons, we initially said we wouldn’t do on this trip. But after speaking with the family, we were persuaded to go ahead with the surgery because they wouldn’t be accepted at home unless their child’s lip was fixed due to to stigma associated with the condition. When the child and parents were finally reunited after surgery, the smiles were so impossibly wide, we knew we had made the right decision.

As mentioned before, we have 8 cases tomorrow; 3 scheduled clefts and 5 hernias. Our goal is to be done again around 8 p.m. so we can get a good night sleep and try and get an early start Saturday as we have various activities planned for Saturday afternoon which we want to be done by 1 to get ready for. With only three cases Saturday though, this should be very doable.