Thursday, November 02, 2006

Last Day of Surgeries

Have you wondered what exactly the team can do after the shift ends? Tired and quite weary, often it is hard to gain the energy to even go out to dinner. 2 nights ago Heidi, our Cleft mission director, joined her husband Alan, one of the anesthesiologists, and several members of the team to find a nice restaurant downtown. Heidi never really knocks off duty and so was on her cell phone back to the USA regarding another LWB matter as they meandered down the road.

She followed them into what she thought was the restaurant of choice. Not noticing that the men and women where now being separated into different rooms she continued her conversation with our Medical Director back home. Suddenly she commented “Oh Karen I have to go…they are trying to take my clothes off!” She had NOT noticed that she was in a massage room. The Doctors had heard how good the foot massage was in China and had booked ahead, the perfect way to end a 12-hour shift in the OR! I wonder what Karen thought of that abrupt end to the phone call!!!

Can you ever get used to such great days? All the rest of the kids on the schedule today were done and we can honestly say it was a wonderful, incredible week. One of our fabulous volunteers said today that she had realized that she had taken very few photos this week. She said that she had been “living in the moment” of it all so much, that she never stopped to take out her camera.

Arlene’s Lu’An foster children had their surgeries today, and it was a moment she won’t soon forget as she got to take one of the little girls back to the OR and comfort her while they put her to sleep. Arlene stayed through the surgery and then was there in recovery as little Lian woke up.

Our OR schedule was so filled today when a local Mom came in with her baby daughter of 4 months old. She had heard the team were here but thought she was too late. When we ushered her into the examination room she burst into tears. This Mom had done such an exceptional job at feeding her baby; she was a darling chubby baby with a unilateral cleft lip. Dr Cindy Molloy tenderly examined baby Ran Ran as we held our breathe hoping she would not be wheezy. We had already established she had fed at 10.15 a.m. so we could perform surgery at 12.15 if all was well. Amazingly that number 13 was her birth date, as it shined through with luck once more and she was deemed fit as a fiddle. Her young Mom just hugged her daughter close and with tears falling kept saying “Xie Xie Ayi” (thank you Aunty). Dr Molloy’s nurse Jean and the rest of us in the room held back our tears (well mostly held them back) as we brought her down to her bed. A lovie blanket and toy were quickly fetched as the team explained that very soon her beautiful daughter would be in surgery.

At 12.17 Matt Melloy arrived down to fetch her up to floor 13 and we followed. Mom held her baby close and sat as Dr Ness examined Ran and declared that it would be a fine surgery. The moment had come for her to be separated and she kissed her baby’s sweet head as tears fell. She wanted to carry her to theatre but alas those large steel doors could not be passed.

Gently Dr Ness squeezed her shoulder and made sure his words were translated to Mom, “She will be fine, we will take good care of her- don’t worry”. And so we left and offered her tea and lunch from the hospital trolley. Not much of a comfort but all we could do.

Those 2 hours passed slowly and then Ran emerged from the elevator “baby coming through”. The mom took her baby to her and sat and rocked her as tears again washed over her and those fortunate enough to witness the love between them. Later she was seen cradling her sweetheart and singing softly as she swayed back and forth on the hospital bed, nothing interrupting her pleasure and joy of motherhood. Those arms of nurture locked in an age-old embrace; together in that timeless moment. Silently too those that did witness left the room to cry in happiness.

And so the miracle of love continued in Hefei today.