Thursday, August 23, 2007

ballon volleyball

Last night we received an unexpected admission. At home, unexpected admissions are the normal. They are sort of expected. But on on hospital ship in Africa, we carefully screen our patients and give them cards with a specific date to come back for surgery. We are a surgical, not a medical facility, and only have so many surgeons. So our patient population in terms of numbers is rather stable.

But around seven last night, little Angelle was brought into the Peace ward, holding her uncle's hand, by one of our charge nurses.

Angelle was born with a sever cleft lip. It was so severe that it bilaterally extended past her nose, up into both of her eyes. Her uncle showed me a picture of her when she was two. She had a terribly deformed little face.

During Mercy Ships Togo outreach in 2003, when she was 2 1/2, our surgeons performed surgery and fixed her deformity, giving her a whole face. The before and after is stunningly remarkable.

And patch is now covering her left eye. At some point since 2003, a doctor removed that eye. I am guessing it might have been infected. Her right remaining right eye consistently puts out a weepy drainage that had to be cleaned every few hours.

Today she received a cat scan and will be seen by our eye surgeons.

Remember (that is the little girls name) also came to us yesterday. She had a right club foot repaired to day. Last night she was running around the ward with her platted hair and little girl underwear sticking out the back of her pint-sized pink hospital gown. She's adorable.

Both Remember and Angelle are six years old. Both were born with deformities that could make them outcasts. Both were receiving free care from our hospital ship. Both like red balloons.

Last night the two girls gathered from opposite ends of the ward and congregated in the center of the room for some quality balloon volleyball. For almost 45 minutes they happily bounced the balloon back and forth as if they were sharing a secret joy of being six years old that no one else in the room could understand. Neither seemed to notice their gross deformities.

They were having too good a time with the red balloon.

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