On a normal trip to the beach, you might want to make sure you have swimsuits, a beach towel, sunscreen, and maybe a beach ball. Around here, before we reach for any of those things, we make sure the oxygen tank is packed in case someone needs a boost before we rush to the emergency room. We also check to make sure all medication that is taken three times a day is packed. And of course, we could never leave without a first aid kit. So you know, just a basic fun day at the beach! Thankfully, our latest outing did not require any of this emergency equipment, but is crazy to think these safety precautions are in place because they really really really might be needed!
But there are other things about life here that we do in order to help the kids heal faster or as a precaution so they don't get sick or hurt. Since their hearts are already broken (literally, not figuratively) it is so important the rest of them stays whole.
For example, teeth brushing. Who knew that this little act could help so much! But it really does keep a lot of bacteria out of their bodies and help them stay healthy. However, teeth brushing is not common in Kurdistan, at least not with most of these families, so teaching proper technique is often a battle. Tonight I had the privilege of assisting our normal kids staff with scrubbing the kids pearly whites. Let's just say, when gentle words don't work, sometimes you have to just dive in and scrub away!
Play time is also done differently. We have to be really careful with how we pick the kids up. The heart surgeries open up their chests, so post surgery it is important not to lift them up under their arms. This can cause too much strain on the newly closed incision... I don't want to be graphic so let's just say we want those stitches to stay closed! So instead, we have to scoop them up under their bum. This also becomes interesting when working with little kids that should be in diapers. Sometimes staff members have had to go change clothes after handling a poopy baby.
So on that lovely note.... I hope this entry has given you a look into the finer moments of life with little children. It really is a joy to work with them, but there are some moments where we just lift up our hands and say, "God, thank you for the promise of heaven, where everyone is whole and clean!"