2017.06.13 Colombia Mission- Day 2

Oh god, I woke up at 5:30am today because I needed to go to the hospital early with Andres and Ahalia to organize the supplies and equipments. There were only three operating rooms for us to use. I hope there were four because we had 4 surgeons. It would be best if every time, the number of surgeons = the number of OR, that way we could maximize the number of surgeries done.

Later everyone else arrived. Daria and Jamal patiently explained some important rules in the OR to me and other volunteers like me who don’t work in the hospital setting. I had been worried that I wouldn’t be able to help much because I wasn’t professional enough. However, my worry was extra. There were many things I could help with, as long as I follow the rules well. The most crucial thing is to stay away from the sterilized area, not to touch the sterilized part when helping others. There were certain ways to pass the supplies and instruments and to help them scrub in.

Then they started. I went into Andres’ OR. It was a cleft lip surgery. He explained to me how he will repair the kid’s lip, and then as the blade cut open the skin, I felt a little…strange. It was a mixture of excitement and nervousness. I was excited because that was the first operation I watched but nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. It wasn’t too bad. Although I felt nervous at the beginning, I ended up watching comfortably. I was fascinated by how smoothly and skillfully Andres tied the sutures.

Afterwards, I went to the waiting room and saw Beatriz. I didn’t know she had her surgery today. All of the other kids in the waiting room had their parents with them, but Beatriz didn’t. She smiled at me and reached out her hands. I suddenly felt the obligation to stay with her. Yesterday when I tried to talk to her, she didn’t react much, but seeing her looking at me with her big eyes, I understood that she needed me to be with her. I pulled a stool near her and talked to her. I told her that I’ll be with her in the OR throughout her surgery. She seemed a lot calmer than when we just started our conversation. I felt proud that I was able to give a little girl such great courage. I began to have a wierd feeling — I was hoping to be the last person she saw before she fell asleep before the surgery and the first person she saw after she woke up. The other kid sitting next to her, Alejandro, was also waiting for an ear reconstructive surgery.

In the afternoon, Beatriz was wheeled into the operating room. I rushed in there just in time, just after the anesthetist put the mask over her face. She looked at me with watery eyes, trying to grab me with her tiny hands. I could almost feel a power going through my veins as we hold hands. I felt a connection between us, between Beatriz and I…I felt that my past, present, and future were connected together.

I watched the entire surgery. Beto and Andres did it together. I was amazed by how fast they completed it. Mine was 15 hours long, but it took them only 4 hours to did Beatriz’s. Towards the end, after they implanted the prosthesis under her skin, Andres turned to me and asked, how are you feeling? Suddenly I could no longer control my tears, so i went out of the OR to calm myself down.

I went to Beatriz in the recovery room. She was still in her sleep. All the other kids had their parents with them, except Beatriz. I felt obligated to take care of her and be with her until her parents came. After she woke up, still very weak, she tried to grab my hand again, and I couldn’t help myself but cry. They were tears of joy.

We didn’t leave the hospital until after 9pm. I thought we would go straight back to the resort, but we didn’t!!! We went to a restaurant afterwards to have “dinner,” well I probably should call it a supper. I wondered why they all have so much energy??