It’s time to say goodbye to the smiling faces of the hematology/oncology team who have so graciously welcomed us during this week. As I look back and reflect on my week at the Mother and Child Hospital, I have to say that I am taking home many heartwarming and fond memories from our time spent here.
Degi, a pediatric hematology/oncology attending physician, met us at our hotel on Monday and escorted us through the maze of bustling traffic and buildings to begin our first day. When we arrived that morning, there was a lot going on. Patients, parents and siblings filled most of the beds and outpatient children were arriving to be seen. We rounded as a team that day, which allowed me to gain a baseline understanding of the flow of the unit and what types of patients that they generally see.
In the afternoon I was able to follow one of the nurses as she went about her day. It was amazing to see that they mix the patients’ chemotherapy right at bedside. It was good to see that the nurses have implemented the recommendation from two years ago that they wear gloves during this process. They do not have central lines, so they must maintain peripheral IVs which can be challenging at times. For the few patients that required new IVs during our rounds, family members often offered assistance and applied pressure above the desired site so that no tourniquet was needed. We made several trips to the lab to drop off specimens so that tests could be run and so that blood products could be ordered. These nurses work quickly and efficiently to deliver care to these adorable children.
On Tuesday, we started our day with the news that two new patients had come in overnight and both would need bone marrow aspirations that day. It was touching to see doctors and nurses utilizing the art of distraction, using stuffed animals and singing, to try to console the children as they were prepped for their (painful) tests. Prior to their procedures, we gave both children Mickey Mouse necklaces, and it was touching to see the smiles our gifts brought to their faces.
During the course of the week I was able to spend a good portion of each day with the children. One little girl refused to crack a smile while John and I made our “child life” rounds. However, after we used stickers as an ice breaker, she smiled and then like a chain reaction her mom smiled. We spent the rest of the day playing balloon volleyball and puppets with other patients as laughter filled the hallway. Interacting with these children truly was one of my favorite aspects of this trip. It is amazing that while we could not understand each other’s words, smiles and laughter needed no translation.
– Alex Boddie