Tuesday, March 8, 2011

New Name, New Face, New Life. Part 2

Our miracles began on the ride down to Puerto. Allison and her 6 patients were all riding comfortably in the ambulance. One other person was riding in the ambulance with them. Her name was Margret, she was also an American missionary in Brookes Point. About 5 minutes into the journey, Allison and Margret began to talk. It didn't take long for Margret to realize that these patients A) Had traveled the farthest B) Were the most intense cases C) Were the most in need financially. What Allison didn't know was how influential this woman could be. Upon arriving in Puerto, Margret got to work. She took Allison around to every person who was in charge and when the American doctors arrived she pushed Allison and her patients to the front of the line to be checked out by the doctors and then explained to them the stories of these patients. The doctors were intrigued by the incredible need these patients had. Aina, especially, caught their attention. 
When Dr. Carpenter saw her, he realized how much she needed this surgery. He said that it would most likely be a 6 hour surgery case, but he was willing to do it because he knew that this could potentially change her life. So he made sure that Aina and the rest of our patients went to the top of the surgery list. All the patients needed to do was get blood tests done the next day. Praise the Lord!! Allison couldn't believe how just having simple conversations with someone could have such drastic results.
After the check-in, Allison called the Brennan family and Merilyn came to pick them up. As we had mentioned in the previous post, Merilyn and Ed Brennan head up AWA (Adventist World Aviation) in Palawan. They have a guest house on their compound and had offered to let us stay there for free. We were so excited. Merilyn is also a full Filipina, so she was able to help communicate with the patients. It was a total blessing having the Brennan family there. They made sure we were comfortable, fed, and had transportation to all our appointments.
The next day, we took all the patients in to have their blood tests done. It was a long, frustrating process but it was amazing to have Merilyn there. She was able to communicate with the nurses and that made it go by much quicker. That night we received a very exciting phone call. The patients would all go in for surgery tomorrow. Allison could hardly sleep that night, she was so excited.
Tuesday morning we woke up bright and early. We headed to the hospital, only to be met with more grief. *Pause for a moment* One thing you need to know about Filipino culture is that they are very unorganized and unprompt people. In fact, we have a joke around here. Whenever there is a set time for something, for example: The meeting is a 6:00pm. We always ask: Is that American time or Filipino time? For Filipino's you always add 30-45 minutes to any set time. *Unpause* 
So when we got to the hospital, the nurses had no idea if our patients were even on the list. Once again, Allison was incredibly grateful to have Merilyn there. She was able to talk with the nurses and the people in charge and finally we learned that 3 of our patients actually weren't on the list for that day, but Aina was. So Merilyn took Nuni, Usah, and Reynan back to the compound and Allison stayed with Aina. She was hooked up to an I.V. and sat in a hospital room with all the other pre-op patients. 
Aina waiting with all the other pre-op patients. 

Though Aina spoke only a little English and Allison spoke only a little Tagalog they were able to talk a little bit during their waiting time. Then they took a nap….then they talked some more….then finally the news came that since the other sugery cases had taken so long they didn't have time for Aina that day. 
So she would be the first case in the morning. Since she was already hooked up to an I.V. though they requested that she stay in the hospital for the night. We asked Aina if that was ok and she agreed, though she looked fearful to stay in the hospital all by herself. "I'll stay with her" said Allison, "the other 5 guys have each other. They wouldn't miss me. I'll stay here with Aina." Aina looked much more at ease knowing that she wouldn't have to stay there all alone.
So Allison began her first night in a Filipino hospital. *Pause for a moment* Another thing you need to know. Filipino Hospitals are NOT like most hospitals you're use to. The patient rooms consist of 12-14 beds with 2 inch thick mattresses. You need to provide your own bedding. They also don't feed you. Also, besides inserting and checking I.V.'s the nurses really don't help you with anything. The nurses also don't really keep record of all the patients their taking care of. For example, at about 4am a nurse woke Allison up asking if she was a patient and needed an I.V. inserted. "Um….NO!!" Allison had a hard time sleeping after that, fearing nurses would assume she was a patient and start poking her with unneeded medications. But even with all that, Allison didn't mind staying in the hospital. It set Aina's mind at ease having her there, and that made it all worth while. *Unpause*
Wednesday morning, Allison awoke early with a mission. The day before she had asked all the nurses, in connection with the Surgery Group, if it would be at all possible for her to go in on the surgeries. The nurses all said "No". One nurse had mentioned that it was the Doctors decision but she knew he would say "No" because it was a sterile procedure. So Allison decided that she was going to wake up early and catch the Dr. Carpenter on his way into the hospital and ask his permission. She figured since they were both American, so they had something in common, so maybe he would be cool with it. As he walked into the hospital, Allison took a deep breath and walked in his direction…..and then chickened out and made an unexpected left turn out of sight. "Dang it! Why did I just do that!?!?" she said to herself. As she saw him walk down the hall, she said a quick a prayer in her head. "Dear Jesus, please just give me one more chance to ask him. And this time PLEASE help me NOT to chicken out!" Just then the doctor stopped in the middle of the hallway and turned around and started walking straight towards her. "Hey, What's your name again?" Dr. Carpenter asked. 
One of the nurses with the Surgery
group. She was really funny.
"Uh….Allison" she replied. The doctor then proceeded to ask her about her mission in the Philippines and how she came in contact with her patients, particularly Aina. He then asked if she would be willing to keep him updated on how the healing process goes for all his patients. After having a 5 minute conversation with the guy, Allison finally worked up the courage to ask if she could go in on the surgeries and take pictures and video. "Of course!! That would be amazing!! We always want pictures during these missions but we're always too busy and we forget. We would LOVE for you to come in on the surgeries." Allison was SOOOO excited!!!
Nuni was NOT happy.
As the doctors prepared for surgery, Allison was busy getting the rest of her patients checked in for surgery. A lot of paper work, BP checks, and inserting I.V.'s but she made sure that every patient was settled. The most stressful point was when Nuni had to get his I.V. inserted. It took 2 people to hold him down and one nurse to insert the I.V. He was NOT a happy camper. He cried and screamed and squirmed; so much in fact that his I.V. infiltrated. So we had to do it again, except this time there were 6 people holding him down and one nurse inserting the I.V. Needless to say he was a very strong, determined 4 year old.
After getting the other 3 patients settled in, Allison headed back to Aina to make sure she was still doing ok. Dr. Carpenter was just doing a finally check and then he would bring her in for surgery. After the doctor left the room, Allison noticed that Aina was on the verge of tears. Figuring she was just nervous, Allison tried to calm her down; reassuring her that she would be there the whole time. But Aina was still on the verge of tears, so Allison brought in someone to translate to make sure she was ok. Aina, via translator, explained, "I'm not nervous. But I can't have surgery anymore, because I started my period this morning. I'm just so sad because if they had done the surgery yesterday I could have had it. But not anymore." After explaining this, Aina started to cry. She thought that they couldn't operate on her because she was already "losing blood". "Oh, Aina! 
That doesn't matter. They can still perform surgery on you." Allison explained. After reassurance from both Allison and Merilyn, Aina felt better and was ready for surgery.
The surgery trailer
*Pause for a moment* Since the Filipino hospital are NOT very sanitary, the surgeries had to be done in these small trailers right outside the hospital. They were completely sanitary and air conditioned but they were SOOO small. As if that wasn't bad enough, they had 2 surgeries going on in each trailer. Allison thought for sure she would be kicked out in no time, since there was barely any room for the doctors themselves to maneuver. But they were happy to have a photographer there and they made room for her. It was really exciting. *Unpause*

Aina's surgery was a very long, tedious process; as most surgeries are. Dr. Carpenter started with her nose, or lack thereof. Her nose consisted of a flap of skin covering her nostrils. After observing her, the doctor saw that she also had a deformed ear that she kept covered by her hair. "Since she already covers this ear up all the time, I'm going to take the cartilage from her deformed ear to make her nose." After he completely reconstructing her nose and stitching up the cleft- gash up through her eye he started working on the lump on the side of her face. 
"I could just remove this, but its really nice skin. The skin on her cheeks are really scarred, so I'm going to make a little slit and stretch the good skin over the bad skin" After this he finished stitching above her lip. "I must say, you really brought be a tough case, Allison." Dr. Carpenter admitted. "Oh, but you're doing wonderfully." Allison reassured. 
Even the doctors got their shots in.
The entire surgery took 5 1/2 hours. "I'm Sooo tired. And I barely did anything!" Allison said at the end of it. Aina really was the talk of the hospital. As she was wheeled out of the surgery trailer, people were snapping pictures and oohing & aaahing over her. She looked SOO different.
The amazing medical team that worked on Aina. They truly worked miracles.

After Aina was resting is the Post-Op room, Nuni went in for surgery. Dr. Carpenter wasn't doing anymore of our patients surgery but he and his team still had Allison take pictures of them and their different patients. They just got too attached to her ;) Nuni's surgery was rather simple and only took about 1 1/2 hours.

After Nuni, it was Reynan's turn. *Pause for a moment* We haven't quite commented on how brave this little 12 year old is. He barely flinched during his blood test and when his I.V. was being inserted. When it came time for his surgery, unlike most patients his age, he did not need to be sedated or carried into the operating room. He walked in and put himself up on the table and breathed normally for the antheisiologist. He acted WAY beyond his years and Allison was SOO proud of him. *Unpause* Reynan's surgery was also fairly simple and lasted about 2 hours.
For the first night all the patients
had to use syringes to eat.
Anything that could fit inside a
syringe was considered edible.
Reynan's surgery was the last of the night and they promised that Usah would be the first surgery in the morning. Since Allison had all her patients in the hospital she, once again, spent the night. Though the hospital was noisy, she was exhausted, and was able to fall asleep. She made sure to wake up every 2 hours to check on her patients and just in case they needed something.
Thursday morning, Usah went in for surgery. The doctor explained that since he had a double cleft lip, she couldn't fix both because it would most likely tear. So she said she would do one side and he could come another time to fix the other side. Allison was heartbroken and tried everything she could to make the doctor do both but she said no. After the surgery was complete, Allison spent her day running from room to room making sure her patients were all doing ok. 
Nuni and Reynan were doing very well and the nurses said they could return to the compound. But Aina and Usah had to stay overnight again. So, Allison spent one last night in the hospital. 
The next day the shuttle would be taking them all back to Brookes. Allison was so anxious to get home. It was the first time she and Sam had been separated on this trip and she was beginning to miss her. She could only imagine how homesick the patients felt. But we would all be excited to get out of Puerto. Till then…

~Me and Her


Lisa Mae said...

Make sure you post some after-surgery pictures. I want to see how they turned out. So happy they all got the surgery they needed! You girls are amazing, keep up the great work!

Mariel Torres said...

This post made me realize how much I would love to go out and serve. I admire you two and I know God is using you guys in countless ways. You are always in my prayers!

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