Monday, September 12, 2005

The Rhythm is Found....

and what a wonderful thing it is! 9 more babies have had successful surgery.

Would you like the good news or the bad news? Let's just start with the bad and get it over with. I think the last thing a doctor wants to hear in their OR is the sound "boom", but unfortunately that is the sound we heard today. We have no idea what happened, whether it was a voltage surge or some bizarre hiccup with the oxygen tank, but an essential tubing piece of one of our anesthesia machines blew out today. Unfortunately, that machine is now out of commission. All of our anesthesia docs put their heads together, however, and solved the problem within an hour so that surgeries could continue. I hope no one gets tired of me saying these are INCREDIBLE TEAM MEMBERS! Dr. Kymer and Dr. Walter have such positive attitudes, and Charlie Pohl, who is doing anesthesia, never bats an eye when life's little "surprises" happen. (like your anesthesia machine going boom). His wife Gail is helping the oral surgeon who has been busy from morning to night. She has been the ultimate grandma to the kids, and I can honestly say I have never seen kids HAPPIER to go to the dentist, and she is a major reason. Today she was wearing stickers on her forehead just like the kids they treated.

I wish I could post more about all of the happenings on the night shift, but they come in at 11 p.m. when I am heading out, and I get to the orphanage at 7 a.m. when they are leaving, so I am only hearing that they are having a great time rocking and monitoring kids. I did hear that Jerry, one of our team members from Texas, found a baby who was pre-surgery who spent the whole night sucking on his 3rd and 4th fingers, thus doing the "hook 'em Horns" symbol all night. It was great of this little guy to make Jerry feel so at home! :-) We had the best of intentions to include notes from every single team, but we are JUST SO BUSY! As I said, I know it will takes weeks to remember every incredible moment that has happened.

All of the babies from Sunday's surgeries are doing great and each hour their lips look better and better as the swelling subsides. While yesterday most of them slept much of the day post surgery, today their cute personalities reappeared. We had a few who continued to enjoy a good long snooze, however!

We had to run out today for a medical supply run to buy some essential things like more surgical blades, tongue depressors, and syringes. The van drove and drove and drove to get to the medical supply warehouse, and it was fascinating to walk past one aisle that was state of the art surgical equipment and then turn the corner to find another aisle filled with dried snakes and crushed turtle shells. East meets West. Things here are just so inexpensive. We bought 500 syringes, 200 tongue blades, 200 surgical scalpel blades, medicine cups, cleft palate marking pens, anesthesia masks and more for a whole $60 US.

What's that? Time for more post op photos? I am happy to oblige.

As most of you know, one of our surgeons is the head of the cleft department at Children's in Arkansas as well as being the head of the vascular anomaly center. Before the trip, she had people from around the world contacting her to see if they could come see her while she was in China, and so today in between cleft surgeries, she saw some vascular patients. One girl from an orphanage in another province that we have been following suffers from severe lymphedema of her leg, and we were all so happy that she was able to travel to see our team. Dr. Buckmiller was able to evaluate her and give us a treatment plan.

Dr. Weidenbacher, our pediatrician, was kept very busy today evaluating kids and helping us to make long term plans for some of the children with special needs. One of our heart babies from the art auction, who was unable to have heart surgery this summer because he needed to put on a few more pounds, was brought in today for an evaluation. Dr. Weidenbacher feels he will probably be ready for surgery by November. This little boy was so full of personality! He has been in foster care for the last few months and his foster mom loves him very much. She told us quite proudly that he gets THREE eggs a day and that she goes to market to get fresh milk every day so that he can gain the strength he needs. I can't describe the feeling of working on the files of children in China for surgeries and then actually meeting them in person. How amazing to fall in love with a child's photo and then actually be able to pick them up and wrap your arms around them. There just aren't words.

I think the phrase that has been said more than any other on this trip is, "isn't this child BEAUTIFUL?" Every time a new patient is brought in for evaluation, we all turn to each other and say, "isn't she (he) BEAUTIFUL?" But each one has a personality all their own. We all could only laugh and laugh at the little boy in PACU who had such a pouty face while he slept that it was just priceless. We haven't found any who don't LOVE to be cuddled. I can honestly say our non-med team members haven't had a moment where they weren't needed because their rocking and loving is of course just as essential as all the medical care they are receiving. We are definitely giving the most TLC possible.

One of our patients for tomorrow is a darling four year old girl who will have a palate repair. She has thought that this whole experience is like a trip to Disneyworld. She has loved playing peek a boo and running in the hallway and of course our big box of TOYS. Tonight she rummaged through and found a plastic pair of sunglasses, which she had to model for us. I think you will agree that she looks smashing. Tomorrow the team is doing several older children, and they are adorable. One little seven year old boy is practicing his English and he is so polite. When Dr. Ray examined him to qualify him for surgery, at the end of it he smiled and said, "thank you very much". He hasn't loosened his grip on his matchbox car he received in two days. I just about got him to put it down when he saw a magnadoodle, but the car won out.

As you know, older orphans are especially important to LWB. Our hearts are always with those children who were never chosen for adoption. Tonight, one of our team members invited all of the teens from the Luoyang SWI on a 'field trip' of our hospital. The kids were having a great time going to each station learning every part of cleft surgery, from the OR to the post op ward.

Our team continues to become closer and closer friends. I am sure these are friendships that will not soon be forgotten, as we are all sharing a very life changing experience. Thank you for your words of encouragement and support. They mean so very much to us. And thank you AS ALWAYS for caring so deeply for these incredible and oh so important kids.