Sunday we gathered together for the first time, to plan our attack for the week. HTCNE policy is to perform surgery on kids with cleft palates first, so that we will be around in case of any complications, followed by surgery for kids with cleft lips, followed by surgery for kids who have previously had surgery but need something revised. Then we had time to explore the Milaflores area of Lima, including an outdoor art fair in Parque John F. Kennedy. The speech team went to bed early…we are all veterans and know how crazy screening day will be.
Yours in healing, sb
Monday, screening day! We were all on the bus by 7, arriving at the hospital by 8:15. We stowed all the luggage (around 40 giant suitcases) and were warmly welcomed by Dr. Landa and the staff of the hospital. Families of potential patients were gathered under tents in front of the hospital, and greeted us with much hugging and kissing. We made our way to our clinic rooms, where a seemingly endless stream of kids with clefts were examined for general health, anesthesia risk and of course speech, language, feeding and swallowing.
By the end of the day we had seen over 40 patients, and we had a rough surgical schedule set. Patients who were not surgical candidates but still needed speech language pathology services were given appointments for tomorrow. It was a very long, hot day with chaos resolving into order…more or less.
We were all on the bus by 7 am, ready for a grueling day. The surgeons, residents, anesthesiologists, nurses and pediatrician were working nonstop to get the kids the palate surgeries they needed. Meanwhile, over in our offices, we saw some clients for speech services. I worked with a teen on her stuttering. She has the blocking kind, where words get stuck and won’t come out. I taught her one technique to get her air flowing to defeat the blocked feeling, which she picked up on right away. I had her read to me…the only reading material was Dr. Seuss’ Go Dog, Go in Spanish. When she felt a block, she used her technique and was able to get through the block. What a tremendous success for us both! I also counseled her to stick up for herself and not let anyone put her down because of her stuttering. I hope she comes back for another appointment on Friday. Meanwhile, Helen and Marianella were seeing other patients…it was a busy morning for us.
In the afternoon, we wondered where our patients were. It turned out that they were in surgery due to some shuffling of schedules. That’s all part of how it goes on these mission trips, you just have to roll with it.