Cynthia has always had a great smile.
I remember seeing her at screening day. She and her mother were sitting outside the room full of doctors waiting to be seen. Cynthia was sitting on her moms lap playing with a balloon and eating bread. And smiling.
I bent down so that I was at her eye level and asked if she's like her picture taken. She laughed and put on a bit of a show. I took her picture. She laughed again when I showed it to her on the LCD screen of my camera. She has a joyful, spunky little soul.
On Monday night, Cynthia joined us on D ward. After about five seconds of shyness and environment acclamation, she was running around the ward saying hello to all the nurses, smiling, laughing, and playing with any toys she could find. She wasn't my patient but I could not help but say hello. We ended up dancing together in the middle of the ward without any music.
One of the many perks of working with children is that you can be as silly and crazy and imaginative as you like and regardless of how mad your actions might appear on the surface, they are still considered socially acceptable. I'm never working with adults :).
Carlos, every one's favorite Brazilian biomedical technician/adopt a patient extraordinaire/balloon artist (Carlos is multi-talented and great!!) came to the ward around 8 pm to make balloon creations for the kids. Cynthia got a hat which she proudly wore the rest of the night and a Orange balloon that served as a volleyball/general entertainment for the rest of the shift. She is a beautiful free-spirit and the ward was deliciously permeated with child laughter for most of the night.
After I reported off to the night nurses I took Cynthia for a walk around the hospital so the night nurses could get themselves settled without being smacked in the head with an orange balloon. I showed her all the wards, took her into the laundry room to see how we wash the cloths here, and showed her the world map filled with pictures of out staff. She seemed to like it. She kept smiling.
Yesterday, Cynthia received free surgery to repair her cleft lip. I was her nurse when she came back from the OR. When she wook up she wasn't scared, she didn't complain of pain, but she did make a request; she wanted food. The cleft lip/palate patients are put on a no rice/soft diet. I got her some milk-soaked bread to eat. When her mom offered her the bread, Cynthia didn't smile. She started to cry.
African children eat a lot of rice. They like it; it's what they are use too. Cynthia didn't want bread. She wanted to eat rice.
She quickly realized the battle for rice was one she could not win, conceded and ate the milk-soaked bread (yum!).
I went to visit her in the ward today but found she was sleeping. But if she was awake, I'm sure she would be laughing and smiling.
I can't wait for her steri strips and nasal bolster to be removed so she can try out her new smile.