Since my first day observing at the hospital, when I didn’t feel too well, I have spent a lot of time in the operating room. In the past week I have been pleasantly surprised with my level of endurance. I’ve observed several operations and it’s been a fascinating experience. As I have said before, the doctors are extremely gifted at what they do and they are so incredibly caring and gentle. I have been so interested in the operations and learning how it’s all done because I really want to have a better understanding of what the patients go through.
I’m learning more and more that it’s a whole process. When you see a little scar on a child’s leg, or the marks left from stitches, it might not seem like a very big deal, but that little scar has a big story to tell and the surgery that is behind it impacts their lives in an important way. Just the lead up to their surgery is a journey. Everything from living with their disability, to finding out they can get treated, to coming to the hospital, to dealing with the fear of the unknown, to seeing other children coming out of the O.R. with casts and bandages takes its toll. Then comes the moment when it’s their turn.
One of the operations I sat in on was on a boy whose tendons in his leg were constricted, which limited his mobility. I couldn’t describe the procedure in medical terms, but first he was put to sleep and then the doctors made incisions in 3 different parts of the leg. They cut a part of the tendon and moved it to another section of the leg and then sewed it in. Seeing the cutting and stitching actually take place is certainly different than just seeing the before and after. I feel like, in some ways, it helps me have a greater empathy for the child. Obviously I can’t be there for every surgery and I have empathy for the children regardless, but seeing everything they go through on their way to healing helps me have a better perspective, and a better understanding.
One of the best parts about hanging out in the O.R. is spending time with the doctors and nurses, and getting to know them in the time between the operations. They are really great people, and gracious with me as I practice my very minimal French. It’s amazing how much you can communicate with improvised sign-language!