Monday, June 22, 2009

Don't Stop B-b-believin'!

I realized today that it's been just about 2 weeks since I updated on here, and I apoligize. For those of you on my email list, you know that I've had a rather tough couple of weeks. I would like to say that I was just too busy or too lazy to update, but honestly, just having to think about some of the things that have happened are just too much, but i'll do my best to fill you in.

Where did I leave off?... I'll start with some patient updates for you:) My little man Geraldo(who pictures of can be seen on my facebook) quickly became one of my favorite people here over the couple of weeks I got to spend with him. He was released 5 days after their original date they'd set for him, but he's not at the hospitality center. I made them bracelets, and his mom gave me one in return, which I love:) I got to work the afternoon he left, and one of my co-workers said 'They got a hold of you, right?' and I was like 'who?' then she said 'D ward'(the ward I spend my time in) and Iwas like 'no.. CAN I GO?' and she was like 'quickly.' I ran my tail off, got to the ward, and the girls were like 'Michelle, you JUST missed them.. run to the aft gangway... RUNN.' So I ran and ran, and got lost ,and ran some more, and made it down to the car and there they were- Geraldo and his mom. At this point I didn't know he would be at the hospitality center. I said goodbye, with tears in my eyes all the way back to work. I got to visit him on saturday, which was a nice surprise for his mom, I think:) I also made friends with Julian and Chisom(who I mentioned before) and those pictures are all on facebook:)

I've made some new friends in the ward as well.. Edoh is 3 1/2 and very funny. I play with him and make faces and he imiatates and we just goof off. He likes to talk, but I have no clue what he's saying, but it's funny and I try not to let it get to me that I have no idea what he's talking about hah. David is a 10 year old who loves to make faces as well and he knows just a little bit of english so he says 'Good-bye' to me every time and 'welcome' :) Maome( the little 3 month old I talked about before) is still here, no surprises there, and her mom and I have little inside jokes even if we can't talk.

In the corner for 3 days was a little girl. The first time I saw her, I knew she was very sick. She had very little hair, and what she did have was spotty, she was so thin I could see her bones, and she wimpered the whole time I was in the ward. One day, her mom was in the shower, and so I sat with her, but was scared to hold her becuase I didn't know what kind of surgery she had and I didn't want to hurt her, but she just looked at me with these sad little eyes and just wimpered. She died 3 days after I met her. I can't even tell you how hard it was- especially because I'm friends with a lot of the nurses now(spending so much time in the wards has given me instant friends). I was working and I asked my friend how the baby was, and she just had this look and I knew it wasnt good.. she told me, and I had to keep it togetehr becuase I was working. Later, at lunch, I saw my friend Kathleen who worked iwth the little girl pretty closely, and I was like 'man it's so sad' and she was like 'yeah I know... I wonder how she's doing' and I was like 'you don't know' and so I told her, but man.. it killed me. She started crying, and I just...I'm glad she knew before she got to work an hour later, but i never like to be the bearer of such horrible news.

All of this has made me so thankful that Jordan is so healthy and wonderful and grateful. I know that could change at any moment, but this baby was 1 1/2 years old, and never had a good life because she was always sick. Her mom was detatched, and everyone knew it was not good. The doctors talked for like 20 mintues to decide what to do, but I believe deep down we all knew that night she wasn't going to make it. I almost started crying so many times that last night I was in her ward. When they were moving her to the ICU, I just went over and looked at her, and said a little prayer, knowing in my heart it would be hte last time I'd see her.

This whole experience has been so wonderful, but so challenging. Things like this make me wonder why GOd could take such a small child out of this work, but then again, I know it's so much better for her because she'd have had so much brain damage and health issues, she wouldn't have had a good life- especially here in Africa. If she'd lived back home, maybe things would've been different from the start, but that's not how it is. Not everyone is fortunate enough to be cared for the way we are in the US. We never realize how lucky we are until we see a life slip through our hands because of differences in society.

Other things that have happend are my camping trip. Man that was crazy. Got burned, got to go swimming, lots of fun, no sleep hardly because of a thunderstorm, bugs attacking us at dinner, etc. IF you want more stories, let me know. I have a ton, but jsut don't feel like typing them all out right now.

I've also seriously been considering what I'm supposed to be doing with my life in the future because I am certain now that the path I originally picked is not really for me. We will see. If you'd like to talk about that little problem, I'd be more than happy to talk... I could use a few people to talk that out with, but don't feel its really necessary to type it out here..

Anyway, I've had a few stomach things(which are not rare around here), but I'd avoided the nassty flu that attacked the ship. They were scared it was the swine flu for a few days, but it was a strain that is uncommon and pretty serious, which was even scarier for some people.

The summer program has begun, and I thought it'd be more stressful, but really it's just organized play time:) I love it. I thoguht i'd have more to do, but really, it's not that bad. Just song stuff I gotta do, but you know:) oh.. also I was on a worship team this weekend... talk about intense.. we had a 2.5 hour rehearsal lastn ight right before the service, and an hour the night before.... UMBC IV kids.. I thought of you and how much I miss our 20 minute rehearsals:)

Anyway, off to dinner!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

And The Beat Goes On...

I thought it was about time for another update. I've been meaning to, but either I just didn't find time, or when I went to do it, I just didn't feel like it:)

Quite a lot has been changing and going on around here. The coolest moments thus far involved patients. I 'adopted a patient' to visit in the ward and his name was Leonard. To my surprise, he had a cleft lip and palate, just like me:) He is a year and 1/2 and quite adorable. This little boy never talked to me, or at least to the extent of his vocabulary, but his eyes could tell a million words. I quickly became friends with his mother, and a few others in the ward. There was a 1 month old whose grandmother took care of her becasue her mother died at birth who also had a cleft(and quite a cute little one as well), then there's Geraldo who had a condition where his brain was exposed in the front of his head, and they had to go in and fix it so he didn't get miningitus or a head trama, and there was a little little girl who is 3 months, but looks like a new born, who had a massive tumor about the size of her head. She almost didn't make it through surgery, and had a few close calls following, but she's still hanging in there, and her mother is amazing.

The funny thing about all of these people- they don't speak english. I've had the chance to talk to the grandmother a little bit and convinced her that cleft lips happen all over the world, they are common and treatable, and they are not the result of witches. She was amazed and very excited about this and she passed it on to Leonard's mom, who spoke a language most of the translators did not. We mainly speak through smiles and hand gestures, which is dfficult, but very cool as well:)

Yesterday, I was at work and there was an announcment over the intercom(they don't use it too often so you know something was up) and asked all availible workers, or anyone who could be spared, to head over to the hospitality center(which I mentioned before I belive in my last post) because screening was going on. Now, screening is normally an ordeal in itself just getting people through, figuring out what is wrong with them through translators, and then sending them to the right people to schedule surgery, if it is necesary. The problem was that so many people came in with the same problems, that our schedule filled up, and we could no longer take patients, so we said no to more that 3/4 of the patients who came to screening(1,000 showed up).

I worked as an escort, which means that once the nurses or doctors told these people we couldn't help them, I had to take them to the gate. This seemed like an impossible task for me. After the doctors told these people ,who waited for hours, or days in some cases to be screened, that they would not be able to help them because it was medical and needed proper treatment, it was neurological and we do not have a brain surgeon, it was a hernia and we had to many adults coming in with those, or it was cancer and we coultn'd handle it, I had to walk them out. Some held their head high and walked out strong, and some were sobbing and didn't know what to do. I offered most of these people to goto the prayer station, and most of them said yes they needed prayer- again.. in a diferent language:) I learned quickly what pray in french was:)

I watched some of these people's hopes crash down, joy shattered, and dream of a new life ruined. It did make the ones who were on the wait list(of over 400 children), or those who were asked to come for surgery a great joy and it really excited everyone when that did happen, but man was it hard.

I left knowing I needed to get back and lay down because more than one part of me was shutting down, i shoved lunch down my throat and slept. After dinner, I went down to the ward to see my kids, and of corse on maybe the hardest day yet, 2 of my little ones were gone. Actually 3, but 2 I was close with. The third's name is Chisom, who is 10 and he has a facial tumor. My heart sank. At first I thought I was in the wrong ward, so I looked in the corner where I knew Geraldo would be, and he was there:)

I ended up sitting with his mom who pulled me over to sit with her, and held him for about an hour. I'm learning i have this gift of putting babies to sleep:) Almost every time I held the 1 month old, she'd fall asleep, and Geraldo was out like a light within about 10 minutes of me holding him:) I savored the moment, becuase you never know when they'll no longer be there(though there will always be babies in the ward, certain ones just really have my heart:) ) I walked around after i passed him to his mother and said hi to some of the other familiar faces in the ward. I was originally going to make bracelets for Leonard's mom, him, the grandma, geraldo's mom, and the 3 month old's mom, but it was too late. I'm still going to do it for those left, and I've decided to keep visiting every night until they are all gone. It's bittersweet becuase it's a greeat sign that these little ones moved out, but it's hard because I didn't know, so I never really got to say goodbye.

Other than that, work is going well.. I LOVE making coffee:) Might be something I'd like to do when I get home. It's really tough here, but I'm really learning how much I love visiting patients, even if we can't talk. Just sitting there and looking at these little ones will make most any heart just melt.

I got to goto an orphange, which was quite interesting, but I loved it. I woke up late and almost missed it, but luckily my mom was there and got me up just in time:) I found myself with an attatchemnt named Joey who was probably about 4 years old- what a trip:) He tried jumping in the car when we left:) THe saddest part though was that 6 of the kids- including a baby- had malaria. Most of them will probably survive, but chances are that at least one will not. The day we went, one girl looked especially ill, so all of the nurses went and checked on her, as well as the dr we had with us, adn they said she definetly has full blown malaria, and she was absolutely buringing up. It was very hard to watch.

I"m going CAMPING this weekend with probably about 30 people:) It'll be great fun:) My roomates are absolutely wonderful and we've clicked extremely well- we have a great time together:)

If youd' like to call me sometime- my number is-1 954 538 6110 extension 3433.
I LOVE getting emails and messages, so message away- I've talked to other crew members and it's pretty much agreed that the best part of the day is getting emails from people we care about, and boy is it true. It's really sad, though, when I get online and all i have is junk mail- so please- email me:):):)

Alright, until the next update, as they say here in Benin- Au Revoir!!:)