Friday, May 27, 2011

The Ward

Many of you have asked me to go into more detail about the kids I've been visiting and many have wondered if I've met my girl who I was able to give blood to.

After giving blood, I decided it was about time to go down to the ward and get hooked-in to it so that I could really dive deep into what the ship is all about. Before I started going back to the ward, everything just seemed blah- it felt a bit like I could be anywhere to do what I was doing, and at times it felt like jail. I mean think about it- each of our rooms are about the size of a small jail cell(enough room for a bunk and 2 wardrobes), we're told what and when to eat, when we have to be on the ship, and we have jobs that we go to and work crazy hard at. I mean- loose interpretation since we have a few freedoms, but you know;) So- going to the ward has been a very important part of my trip so far- much like it was the last time I was on board.

The first night I went down, I started off in the hall. Many of the orthopedic patients were in the hall zooming around in their wheelchairs or crawling. Most of them had clubbed feet and now have double casts to correct them. I've seen teeny tiny babies with casts, young kids, teens, and adults. I then went into A ward- which was the orthopedic and plastics(mostly burn patients) ward at the time- and participated in a story and craft time with them. Afterwards I wandered to the other wards.

I havent' really been to B ward because it's mainly hernia patients, which is mainly grown men- I'm more into the pediatric patients. Maybe one day I'll visit in there the kids, but going to the other 3 wards takes over an hour at least:) On that first day, I then went to D ward, which is mainly Maxillo-facial patients- facial tumors, deformities, clefts, etc. Unfortunately for me, most cleft patients are very short-term, so I only see them once then they're gone- though it's certainly a treat meeting them at all. I'm dying to watch a surgery for a cleft baby! Then I went to C ward. This is where the patient who I gave to- Afi- was. I saw her only a couple of days post-op so she was extremely groggy and unable to really do much. She's from Togo, so she doesn't speak english well. After visiting a few times, I learned her caregiver speaks english okay, so we talked through him a bit. At first- I didn't feel comfortable telling her who I am. At home, it'd be 100% weird if someone came up to you saying 'hey.. so... i gave you blood during your surgery.' That honestly doesnt even have the possibility of happening in the states because the blood is processed and banked. Here it goes right to the patient.

A little Sierra Leone backstory. We were driving to the beach one of my first days here and we passed the Emergency Hospital. We looked at the sign and were wondering why there were so many people outside. Then someone put things together- the sign said to bring your own donor- these patients have to bring a family member or friend to give them blood in case they bleed out on the table because they have no blood bank. That being said, the system we have on board is actually weird to them becuase they don't have to bring their own donor, but the crew give to them. But it's not all that different from what they do here.

One day, while visiting Afi, I decided I wanted her to know why I'm visiting her so much. I had the translator talk to her caregiver and told her that when she was in surgery she needed blood and I was one of the people who was able to give to her. I also told her that I prayed very hard for her in surgery- quite a fact. She seemed a little overwhelmed but excited. It was such a cool moment. I can't wait to see her next! She had a few tumors taking over the right side of her face and was able to get some of it taken care of in Togo when the ship was there last, but needed 10 units of blood, meaning she needed 10 donors. This time she came to get the rest taken care of and she needed 4 units of blood. She looks a bit like she's missing 1/2 of her face, but she looks better and better every day- I'm so excited to see her pull through so well. Swelling has reduced, stitches will come out soon- so great. I'm not sure whether or not she'll end up getting some reconstruction done, but either way- what a great story!!

Another big reason for visiting the ward recently is that one of my buddies from the Cheshire Home(the place we worked with during Gateway for 2 weeks) was admitted for surgery on his underdeveloped lower jaw. Originally, his surgery date was in September, but he got a call last week asking him to come that day. I ran into him as he was boarding the ship- so excited for him! I went down later that night(last Thursday) and he already had surgery! He wasn't due in until Friday, but he had it on the spot! Talk about fast-paced.... TIA. It's incredible how fast things went. All i could think about was how scared Gus(his real name is Gussimo:)) was.. so I have been checking on him every few days, along with many of the people who worked with him in February and continue to do so. As I've visited, I've also gotten to know the patient next to him who had some kind of reconstructive throat surgery, and I've gotten to meet many cleft babies. One of Gus' caregivers was trying to marry me off... sort of funny, but I knew how serious she was- so it sort of wasn't at the same time. Man- if I accepted all of the proposals I've gotten I'd have at least 20 husbands by now.. no thanks!! haha.

Gus is the boy on the right side middle:)

I"m so excited I"m back in my element- with patients in a hospital setting. I've fiddled again with the idea of nursing, but I think if that ever happens, it wont be for a few years. I think I'd do Child Life first and see how that goes, then decide, but honestly, I don't really feel drawn to nursing so much as I do just working with kids in hospitals doing anything... you know?

I wish I had some cool pictures, but we're not allowed to take pictures of patients in the hospital. If i find some, I'll post them.

If you are curious about anything having to do with me or the ship or anything- let me know and I'll post sometime! I'm just a bit low on things to write about. Hope to hear from you soon.

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