Tuesday was Helen Buhler’s birthday and this blog post is based on her thoughts. She said:
What better way to spend my birthday…the singing has not stopped. First I was serenaded on the morning bus ride, and then in the operating room. When Peruvians find out it’s your birthday, they kiss you with great exuberance, whether or not they have ever met you before.
One of the many gifts I received this year was the opportunity to see the joy and enthusiasm of our students as they fall in love with medical mission work and the people of Peru. I predict that both Vanessa and Lindsay will participate in a trip like this again.
Tuesday started with screening fourteen more patients who arrived last night from an area where they speak Quechua as their first language, and some parents did not speak any Spanish at all, so it was an added challenge for us to find translators. Just one of many unexpected hurdles we dealt with, as we always do. Some of the prospective patients had very unusual medical conditions, far beyond what we can handle on a trip like this. (More about this later.)
After our speech screenings were complete, we put on scrubs and headed for the operating rooms. Manoj Abraham, MD, was performing a very complicated surgery on a young toddler who had a bilateral cleft lip with the premaxilla, that is, the gums and two front teeth, separated from the rest of the upper jaw. This was the first time the students had seen any surgery, and they were fascinated. Their understanding of anatomy for speech is surely deeper and more meaningful now. The magic of seeing this child awake with an intact face when we go on our rounds in the ward later is beyond description.
Next we peeked in on Ryan Brown, MD, our leader on this trip. He was repairing a unilateral cleft lip on an infant aged 3 months. What an amazing gift for this child and his family…a beautiful little mouth, perfectly pieced together by an expert surgeon.
To be continued…