Hospital visit days are probably my favorite because they help me keep all of the office work in perspective. Today we picked up nine Palestinian kids and brought them to the hospital for echo.
The sun shone down bright and clear as we pulled up to the Erez Border Crossing to pick up nine Palestinian children and their parents. We loaded up the vans and headed off to the hospital where six of the children had follow-up echos and three had echos to evaluate their heart problem and determine how surgery could fix it.
When we get to the hospital, all of the families have to present their IDs and visas that show they are allowed to enter Israel to take their children to this specific hospital. Normally, this goes off without a hitch and we are inside quickly. However, today there was a mix up with one of the papers. It said the mother was supposed to go to a different hospital in Israel even though her infant son’s visa said he was supposed to be at the one we take all our patients to. At first, it seemed like they were not going to let her in. We all waited, praying that God would open the doors so that she could accompany her child so he could have his follow-up echo. Finally, we got the word from the higher-ups; she could enter! We joyfully headed into the hospital for a busy day.
The echos are not painful but the machines can be intimidating and frightening for the kids. Since many of the children are infants, the doctors give them medicine before the echo that makes them drowsy. This helps the whole process to go more smoothly and keep the babies from squirming during the echo. However, the medicine must taste awful because it is quite an ordeal to give it to each of the kids. I took a picture that completely sums up these moments. In it there is one kid smiling (probably because she hasn't been given the medicine yet), another crying because she was just force fed the nasty orange liquid, and another puking the medicine back up!
While each child waits for their turn, we try to help keep them entertained. There is a small play area so we usually color, play with baby dolls and beanie babies, or climb in and out of the playhouse situated in the back corner. Today I also brought bubbles which the kids loved! I have learned almost any fear a toddler has can be solved with bubbles. They had a great time racing each other to see who could pop the most bubbles the fastest. Today there were also a couple guys there from the organization Save a Child's Heart who we partner with. They were so helpful in keeping the kids entertained. They also know Arabic so they were able to help me communicate a bit with the kids. I am quickly learning that the Kurdish I use with the Iraqi kids does not work with the Arabic speaking Palestinians!
All of the echos went smoothly. At the end of the day, eight of the children were returned to Gaza and another was admitted for surgery. Our Iraqi patients are also doing well. Chera had her surgery a couple days ago and is now in intermediate ICU. She is definitely still in pain, but she had such a quiet strength about her. I was so impressed! We also got to bring Hezhan back to Shevet today! He is well enough to continue recovering here and will have a few more follow-up echos in the next couple weeks.And some of our most exciting news.... The new website is up! Check it out! We are still working out the kinks, but it looks great!