Nyamuh is a fifteen year old male who had a cleft palate/ cleft lip surgery performed. He is now the owner of several beautiful suture's which have reconnected his deformed face.
At the beginning of the shift I had his arm bound by a blood pressure cuff and his finger glowing with a small, red pulse ox light. After midnight, I no longer needed hourly vital signs so I dis attached both.
At 2 AM he woke up in a panic. He motioned me to come forward and I was concerned her was having some pain. While pointing to the monitor next to his bed, he asked if he needed to be connected to the monitor.
I said no.
He then asked if I needed to clean his suture line.
It was 2 AM. Definitely no.
His manner of speaking was extremely sweet. I could tell by his urgency that he just wanted to please and was afraid that he had done something wrong, something that might effect his surgery.
Gently, I assured him that everything was fine and quietly encouraged him to fall back asleep. I tucked him in and stroked his forehead until his eyes surrendered fully to the early morning.
I cannot imagine what his life has been like up until this point. The pain of being different. The difficulties eating. The mockery of his community and peers.
One mother told me this weekend that people don't consider babies with cleft deformities to be human beings. How sad.
I have been in Liberia for almost four months, which is very hard to believe. Living on a Mercy Ship does very little for a girls self esteem. The extreme lack of healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, despite my daily exercise routine, has made my jeans tighter and left me feeling constantly bloated. If I wear big earrings (which I wear pretty much every day at home), I am accused of being "dressed up". I don't even like to look too nice if I go out because it causes to much undesired attention. It's hard for a white American girl to blend in Liberia.
And I'm a little tired. I'm in the middle of a stretch of 9 out 10 days that I am working.
But getting the opportunity to rub Nyamuh's head as he fell asleep, tuck him into be, and see how sweet his spirit is, it's all worth it. The sacrifices made are small indeed.