Smile Train

A 24-hour sickness bug kept me at home yesterday but after some sleep and a lot of water, I was back to normal. Today I went to the Smile Train clinic and it was incredible. Most of the children on the ward today were under 6 months old. After a ten minute tour of the ward, I was invited to scrub up and join the surgical team. I’ve attatched a picture of me rocking surgeon chic… its all blurry because I was shaking from adrenaline! The first patient in theatre was a 12 year old girl who had previously undergone surgery to correct a bilateral cleft lip. However, she still had structural problems with her posterior pharyngeal flaps which meant that her speech was extremely nasal making it almost impossible for her to be undrestood. The surgeon was so relaxed about the entire operation. Saying that, as he is operating on one patient, another is being prepared and he works in a convery belt type fashion so he’s extremely experienced. He allowed me to assist him in using the suction tube to drain blood and fluid which at first was terrifying but also pretty cool. I assisted him for five operations in total, each lasting between 45 minutes and an hour… during the last op he even allowed me to tie the last knot in the surgical thread! I’m heading back there tomorrow, it was amazing and I’d definitely like to see more. The Smile Train op theatre is also shared by the plastic surgeons who occupied the room for the rest of the day.

I was much happier today with the cleanliness and hygiene. All surgeons and op theatre staff were required to scrub up in the same way as in the UK. Gloves were disposed off after use and you could’ve eaten off the floor. Saying that, I’m noticing that regardless of the ward, pain relief is not high on the agenda. I saw a two year old boy screaming with pain, the entire left side of his body had been crushed under a motorcycle and he had lost all but two of his left fingers. He was clearly in agony and he was given nothing. The nurses are incredibly efficient, they keep the wards spotless and do an amazing job under the circumstances BUT they give very little comfort to the patients. Children crying in pain are scolded and hit over the head and heavily pregnant women are left to get themselves out of bed and on the trolley.

After work Esther, Annais and I went shopping and picked up our clothes from the ‘temple tailors’. The tailors all sit in a row waiting for business in an abandoned 500 year old temple. The fabrics, jewellery, bed spreads, cushion covers… everything is just amazing. Today I bought the most beautiful cushion covers and a wall hanging. I also bought some scarves and 7 bags. HOW I’m going to get everything home I’m not entriely sure.

This weekend Jenna, Esther, Celine and I are staying in Madurai to visit the Meenakshi Temple and the Ghandi Museum. Next week, I’m getting a change of scenery as Annais, Christina, Marie and I head to the leprosy hospital which will be really interesting.  So yeah, that’s what’s been happening in the last couple of days. I finally got round to topping up my (Indian) phone today so if a crazy number beginning with ‘7’ calls… c’est moi =]


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Gaynor
    Jul 22, 2010 @ 11:13:45

    Wow, it all sounds amazing. I remember when I was in India been left with the feeling that life is definitely cheap as death is a much bigger part of it than it is here. The lack of pain relief and comfort ties in with this. Must be hard to watch this though (and go through it). How are you coping with it?
    You must be learning so much, and it really sounds like a life-changing experience. Make the most of it (as I’m sure you are).
    Take care,


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