Friday, October 12, 2012

Pre-op Visit

This morning I rolled out of bed around 5:20 to meet the mothers and their babies at the school here in Ixtacapa. We then drove about an hour to a town called San Felipe Retalhuleu. About 5 minutes before arriving at the hospital my car got a flat tire! Luckily a few feet back there was a pinchazo (a place that changes tires, they are all over Guatemala, because I guess it happens a lot). So I pull in and the guy changes my tire. Luckily I had a spare in the back. As he is finishing up I hear a noise and look in my car to see that my rear view mirror fell off my windshield! Unfortunately the pinchazo didn't have any sort of glue so we had to continue our journey without a rear view mirror. About 20 minutes and 20 quetzales (about $2.50) later we are back on the road!

We arrived at the hospital and were given numbers. There were probably about 30 different kids with various degrees of cleft lips and palettes. Some little babies and some older kids of about 5 or 6. The numbers were called and we gave our names and paid the consultation fee. Then each child had to get blood work done, which they did not like at all - lots of crying babies in that hospital today! After that drama the kids were called by name to get weighed and take their temperature. I asked the nurse doing the weights what the name of the organization was that is going to be performing the operations and she told me that it is Free to Smile.

Then there was more waiting to be called in to see the doctor. Carlos and Kevin are all set to be operated on, although the doctor prescribed some cough medicine for Carlos. It is common for children with cleft lips and palettes to develop coughs and possible pneumonia if the mother is not careful. Because their mouth and airway passage is all open, any little bit of milk or food can go into the lungs instead of into the stomach. The doctor isn't sure that they will be able to operate on Paula next week because she is still so little - only a little over a month old and weighing a little over six pounds.

And now we all have to return on Sunday to be evaluated by the surgeon who will be performing the operations. He has the final say on whether or not he can operate on a child and it will then be determined what day each child will be operated on. After the operation the child and  mother will stay one night in the hospital and then can come home the next day.

So it has been a long day of waiting....and waiting....and waiting. And Sunday will probably be similar.

Kevin and Carlos with their loving (and funny) mothers



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