Friday, May 18, 2012

Easing Back In..

I wrote this a week ago,but forgot to post it... enjoy:)

After losing Chantal, I pushed back a little bit.... I didn't realize it until maybe 2 or 3 days ago- or maybe I just didn't want to admit it fully, for fear that'd mean I'm not done grieving. I cut myself off from the ward when we lost her. I stopped going all together. The last night I was down there was the night she passed away- I didn't know yet and realized that all of the patients I had gotten to know were gone... my reasons for going down were few and quite honestly I didn't have the emotional energy to put myself through that again so soon...

Last night, I got back to my room at about 8:40 and said... " I need to get downstairs and see some patients." Not sure what sparked this change of heart. I think it had a lot to do with going to the HOPE center(Our housing for patients who live far away pre- and post-op.) last week, where I met the sweetest little baby boy who had a cleft lip and palate... I realized once he gets here he'll have less than a week on board- I wanted to be sure to see him. I got down there and didn't see him, but figured he's probably not ready for surgery yet. He's a part of the feeding program, which strives to get the babies feeding effectively and gaining weight pre-op so that they are healthy and fit for surgery. He looked to be about 1.5 months old, but odds are he is probably closer to 7 or 8 months...

I got down there and met the sweetest little baby boy- he has a bilateral incomplete cleft lip, meaning he has a cleft on both sides of his lip- not just one- and it doesn't go all the way up to the nose. I had a complete unilateral cleft lip and palate.. basically opposite of this little guy;) At first, he didn't like being away from his grandmom, which I thought was his mama until I looked around.. he would let out a little shriek every now and then telling me he wasn't sure about me, but I got him settled quickly.. we wandered over and I saw a little guy, then I heard my Togolese name being yelled over and over... "Akouvi", except this mama thinks it's funny to call me "Akougon", which means "Born on Wednesday and big"... its supposed to be a compliment... I look over and see a very familiar face. Edom and his mama- Hapi- were on the ward at the beginning of the field service when I was a little more diligent in getting down there.

This guy had a facial tumor that took over 1/2 of his face. I didn't realize he'd be back in, but should've assumed... he looked awesome... I didn't even recognize him, but he joyfully kept yelling "AKOUGON, AKOUGON!!" :) He was running around like a crazy man, which is funny and just extremely exciting for me, as he was a guy who was very shy and bedridden on his last visit to the ward... :) Truly awesome seeing a new life for this little guy. He'll always be 'different', but man will he have an amazing story of how God watched over him, and his amazing strong mom, who I named 'Trouble":)

I left him and rocked this little sweet one to sleep. I explained to his grandmother and mom that I had the same thing, that the surgery would be short and a very simple procedure and the Dr. Gary was amazing- he'd look great. His mom couldn'tve been older than 16- If I could guess, I'd say she's 14 and the grandmother couldn'tve been older than 45... they were afraid, but I could tell they cared deeply for this little guy and wanted the best for him. I can't wait to go see him tonight:)

I realized that the reason I was afraid of going back was 100% selfish- in my mind it was justified, but still very selfish... I'm happy to be back on the ward- where I feel most at home here in Africa... other than a few places I've had the joy of visiting off ship, but we'll talk about that another day...

I feel so filled with joy for these patients...Best part of my job is that I get to see patients come and go- I got to see a patient friend leave the ship the other day and it was so exciting, I was almost in tears! SO amazing to see her attitude turned from a shy, scared woman to one full of joy and excitement for her new life. Today at work, I saw a group of about 5 kids and their mamas go down to the ward who have different facial deformities... it'll be awesome seeing their outcome in a few days.

Update: I got to see my little cleft baby and he looks AMAZING!! Big boy and healed amazingly:) I now have a 'befriend a patient' whose name is Rudolph and had extensive surgery which brought his left eye 3cm in closer to his nose- amazing- he's a bit of a handfull as most 4 year olds are but we have fun together. It's especially fun because they speak English, so I can have a full conversation without a translator- I didn't realize how nice that was until recently:)

Thanks for your comments and prayers, guys!! Please keep them coming- surgeries are wrapping up and lots of changes are about to happen- most of my friends will either leave forever or leave for vacation, I'll move into a family cabin for 2 months(yess), job changes for a short time, Israel trip- lots happening and I could use your support and prayers;)

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