Tuesday morning brought the first of our patients to be discharged from the wards. These kids had surgery on Monday and they were looking pretty bright-eyed and ready to get back at it. We saw all of them for speech consults before they left. We reassured the parents of kids with cleft lip only that we expect good speech and language development, gave them some tips and tricks, and kissed them good-bye. Children with repaired cleft palates were seen for developing oral airflow–they need to learn to use their new “equipment” now that they have two separate cavities (mouth and nose) where they used to have one. We train the parents to practice with kids, because they will not receive any speech therapy after leaving the hospital.
In addition to kids who had surgery, we also saw children for a variety of reasons, including genetic disorders, stuttering, language development and hypernasality. We had three and four sessions going at a time, in our crazy aviary. Some of our clients are going to come every day this week for intensive therapy, and some come from very far away and will try to see us again in the spring in Ica, Peru. A few have access to the internet and will contact me as needed for advice. Of course, everyone left with “regalitos” little gifts, and we never say good-bye in Peru without “fotitos” photos and “besitos” kisses.
We headed to the cafe for a lunch break, and bumped into the director of the hospital and the staff of the communications department. They welcomed us to join them for lunch, where we conversed in a mix of English and Spanish. The communication department works very hard to get the word out about our mission, including using the advertisements I make for TV and radio. I asked them if they were using them, and they said of course! So I was very happy to hear that confirmation. Making the first commercial was very time consuming, but editing the sound file for each mission is relatively straightforward, so it seems I’ve gotten a lot of bang for my buck with these simple ads.
This afternoon, we are planning a soccer game on the concrete field outside our aviary. The director lent us the soccer balls, but was disappointed to not have his sneakers with him today. He looked quite shocked that we wanted to kick the ball around, but after riding in the bus so much, we try to get a late day walk after the patients stop coming. This will be good for some laughs. I’ll tell you how it turns out in my next post.
We met some families today with very sad stories, truly heart breaking situations, both in the speech room and the OR. I can’t really say more and protect their privacy. But it will be good to shake it off a little by running around in the fresh air.