Saturday, September 10, 2005

We have an OR

I wish I could write volumes here, because that is what this day deserves, but since it is almost 1 a.m. and we begin again in just a few hours, I will have to keep it short.

We had a great flight to Henan, and were met at the airport by several officials from Henan Civil Affairs. Everything was going great until we realized that one suitcase was missing......and that suitcase just happened to be the one with Dr. Ray's instruments. Out of all the bags, that was of course the one that decided to stay in Beijing. Thankfully, we were able to track it down quickly and have it delivered to Zhengzhou, where officials arranged for it to be sent by car the 120 miles to Luoyang. It arrived safely tonight about 8 p.m. Hooray!

When we first walked into the orphanage, I think all of us were thinking "we have a huge task ahead of us". There were literally hundreds of boxes of supplies, from the cots to sterile drapes to diapers. Every box had to be sorted, shelves had to be built, rooms had to be scrubbed down, and so much more. Our team has been INCREDIBLE! So many smiling faces and people saying "tell me what needs to be done". I bet everyone is sleeping well tonight because this team worked HARD. The PACU nurses set up their recovery area, with monitors and cots and all the supplies they need. The surgery nurses and docs had a huge task of organizing everything for anesthesia and the operations. They worked non stop and each time I would enter the room, there was a little more floor showing! By the time I walked out of the orphanage at 11 p.m. tonight, every single item had its place....row after row of pain medications, antibiotics, IV materials....truly amazing to see the before and after.

There were three rooms simply filled with boxes, and our cleaning team donned their rubber gloves and old work clothes and began to scrub everything down with bleach. Five cribs and cots were added to each of the rooms, new sheets, pillows, and a wonderful homemade quilt for each baby was added. On went the patient chart holders, and suddenly we had three pre op areas that looked great. People were sorting bags so that each child would get a new blanket, a beanie baby and their diapers and the assembly line was working in overtime. The floor nurses organized every last item they would need. Runners were sent to buy apple sauce and juice and plastic spoons and bowls, diapers, tshirts, towels to dry off the kids after their baths, even mops. It was quite a shopping list! It took them almost four hours to find it all. I could go on and on and on about how hard everyone was working because we all knew that we needed every last item in place by 7 a.m. tomorrow, and I am happy to say that they did it!

Can I talk about the babies? Well that is the reason we are here. I think one of the most amazing moments was when we were sitting in the Beijing airport waiting for our flight and we looked over and saw the cutest little Chinese girl. Suddenly, it dawned on us that the little girl was one of our patients!! QunQun, who was supposed to come on our first cleft mission, was sitting just a few feet from us. I can't describe the feeling of walking over to see her and having her throw out her arms to us.....she wanted to say hello to us all. She is such a tiny little thing, but walking everywhere now and oh so cute. She will be baby number one on the surgery schedule tomorrow, to have her palate repaired.

The babies from Shangrao and Guilin came for pre-ops around 3. It was a quite a sight to see all of the aunties unload from the bus each carrying a baby. The children did so great! They each got a new toy and I didn't meet a single one who didn't have a huge smile on their face the moment you tickled their tummy and said "peek a boo". Most of them were unsure about our doctors....all right, I'll be honest and say there were more than a fair share of tears during that part, but they got a thorough check up by the pediatrician and surgeons, and each child was photographed and their file was compiled. At the end of the pre-ops, 12 babies were picked for surgery tomorrow. The aunties took the children out for dinner and they all arrived back in the orphanage to spend the night around 9. They were all wide awake and looking around at their new home for the next few days. We had their beds waiting. Solid foods were allowed until midnight, so we broke out the Kix cereal and made some new friends right away. Oh the power of cereal balls when you are trying to win over a baby!

I could go on and on, but I probably should get a few hours of sleep (and I do hope I am writing with coherent sentences here!) Tomorrow I hope to have comments from the team members about the children in their care, so it should be much more interesting than what I write.

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers for these kids. They have such spirit, and all of the hours of hard work melt away when you look at their beautiful faces and they give you one of those absolutely enormous grins. Tomorrow 12 babies will have their lives changed forever. I can't wait to see the results of the surgeries.

Good night precious babies. I hope right now you are all sleeping tight. I know you are wrapped in blankets made with so much love, and we promise that tomorrow we will give you our very best tender loving care.

Quick of the babies needed an IV tonight and Todd Taylor wins the superman award for waking up and heading to the orphanage at midnight to help (our nursing shifts weren't assigned until the day the surgeries began) even after working nonstop the whole entire day. He got the IV started and hopefully she will be feeling much better tomorrow and will still qualify for surgery. This team AMAZES me (I think I have said that already).

Good night! Or good morning!