Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Heartfelt Visit

In the end of September I got to visit with the youngest heart surgery patients I'd ever--well, I don't spend much time with surgical patients in general, but these were just little kiddies! Barnbabas has a few surgical teams who come down throughout the year, and the patients (always children anywhere from however many months-18yrs) stay at the Foundation pre and post surgery. I walked to the Foundation after school one Friday afternoon and spent a lovely couple of hours with the children and their parents. The staff was fun too, of course :) The 'heart team' operated out of San Pedro Sula, so they spent their nights in a hotel near the hospital, but two nurses spent a few nights here in town so they could pull night-duty watching some of the post-op kiddos. It was great to meet the girls (both from Colorado, both incredibly awesome but the introductions were completely informal and I can't remember their names--sorry!) but I was bummed I couldn't meet the whole team! Mama Joe (Jackie, wife of Papa Joe who has become quite the supporter of my mission) was traveling with the team, but I'll have to meet her another time!

Every now and then I had to remind myself that the kids were freshly operated on and in recovery. They were so full of energy playing with play dough and excitedly chatting. The parents seemed so moved by their children's new-found energy. I don't know a lot about holes in hearts, but the nurses were explaining that becuase of the lack of proper blood supply, these kids run steadily low on energy. The first change parents get to experience in their little ones is a new zest for life, and it happens pretty soon after surgery! One little girl had all sorts of energy and took me for a little walk around the property. She walked me down to the swing set, and wanted me to help her swing for a bit. Who doesn't love a swing set? Some of you might be making bug-eyed faces, but nothing of a safety risk crossed my mind before I plopped her into the swing and gave her some pushes. In my defense, I asked before taking her for a walk and the only warning I received was not to pick her up under the armpits--easy enough. So I'm pushing her (gently of course, I'm not that crazy) she's laughing and I'm enjoying my mountain view (something about the view from the Foundation is so breathtaking. I don't know if it's the way the house is set-back or what, but the mountains really pop) when I catch a glimpse of Doctora's stern face. She wiggled her finger at me, slowly, and I blushed and slid my girl off the swing. Doctora wasn't upset at all, and just explained that we couldn't risk any chances to fall forward onto her wound (duh!!!) but I have to admit I was a little embarrassed not to have come to that conclusion on my own.

I got to translate a little between the nurses, and it's always nice to be able to do that. Denia and Delilah were funny talking with the girls from the heart team (I really need to ask around to figure out their names...one was Jennifer, and maybe the other was Nicole? Or Nathaly? Dang I really have no idea) because a lot of the translation was taken care of with body language--it's a wonder how much you can convey with hand movements and facial expressions. We spent a while talking about malnutrition, young pregnancies, high cases of birth defects and how the foundation's trying to improve that situation. It seems to be something Delilah is pretty passionate about, and I loved getting to talk to her about something she cared so much about. It is really neat to have the opportunity to connect with so many new people in such a deep way. Delilah enlighted me a lot on the culture of the "indigenous" as she called them, the people who live up into the mountains, and how the girls get married young and you have babies having babies not knowing how to properly care for themselves let alone their niños. At first the conversational was making my heart feel so heavy, but then we got to talk about how hard our Amigos de Bernabé are working to educate on these and many other health topics. They hold different classes throughout the year, and have started giving a sort of sex-ed class once patients seem age-appropriate and open to the advice. I told her I'd love to help any way I could, and am looking forward to seeing how those opportunities unfold. It is really nice to be able to be a part of a foundation with such a big heart.

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