It is about 3am Malawi time, Wednesday morning. I still haven’t gotten used to the time change; I’ve been waking up at odd hours of the morning. The hums of this early Malawian morning are less from a woman singing and more from the heavy sleeping of our operating room nurses. We had a long day of surgeries yesterday and another day scheduled starting in just a few short hours, so they need the rest.
Second day of clinic and first day of surgery was busy and a complete success, but many of the patients who initially planned to come were unable to make it to the bus’ designated pick up zones from their villages. Many of them are expected to come today. We will see every patient who walks thru our doors, no matter what age. Many of them will not be candidates for surgery due to complexities or nature of disfigurement, age, or overall health. There are children who are so malnourished that they are less than half the size they should be at their age. Surgery is not an option at the moment for these children because their little bodies are not strong enough to withstand anesthesia, let alone the actual surgery. The best treatment at this point is to provide the proper nourishment for these children. We brought specialized cleft bottles and nipples that we are giving to the families and teaching the moms how to feed using these bottles.
The success of the past couple days wouldn’t have been possible without our amazing team of volunteers. Our team consists of a speech language pathologist, operating room (OR) nurses, recovery room (PACU) nurses, anesthesia techs, anesthesiologists, surgeons, technical/administrative support and the CMI director. All of these people have been working on everything from check in to check out and to blowing bubbles for the childrens’ entertainment. Thanks to the speech pathologist and the PACU nurse for the endless supply of bubbles. Special thanks to the PACU nurses for providing flip flops to many of the children who walked into the clinic barefooted. Shoes are a luxury item to so many of these families, so a brand new pair of $3 USD pink or black rubber sandals are pretty much impossible to obtain. Things like this remind me why I’m so thankful for everything I have.
Wake up call is in less than 2 hours, maybe I can get in at least one more hour of sleep before then.