Yesterday, we met a little guy named Diego, who had syndactyly, or a web between two of his fingers. Surgery is essential for this deformity so that three-year old Diego can learn how to write properly and grasp objects when he’s playing with his friends.
I was trying to cheer him up before surgery by playing with Julito. While we were playing, our translator Mary Whitehead discovered that Julito also has webbed fingers. We told Diego that the puppet would have surgery on the following day and that he was feeling scared. Diego told the puppet so sweetly that there was nothing to be afraid of! This morning, Diego and Julito were reunited, both with colorful bandages on their hands. When we left, Diego waved goodbye and said “Ciao!” to his new friend, Julito.
And here is a photo of Jose Luis, who you met yesterday with his father. Simone was trying to check out his palate this morning after yesterday’s successful surgery. You’ll notice that Julito the puppet is in the background showing Jose Luis how to open his mouth and say “aaaaah”…
I’ve been so impressed by the love and concern of the fathers of our patients. They often travel alone for long distances to seek out Interplast’s help. It is so heartwarming how carefully they entrust their children to us. At first, I was surprised to see what we are used to labeling as “maternal” love coming from the fathers – they show such open affection for their children. I remember a patient from last week, Andres, who received surgery for his cleft lip. His father was so sweet in the recovery room, carefully stroking Andres’s face with tears in his eyes. In this picture, Andres' father and Julito the Dragon try to cheer him up.
Karen had a fistula (hole) between her gum line and her nose. Her mother told me that this would cause food and drink to come out of her nose. This kind of fistula can also cause speech problems that would have been isolating for her when she starts kindergarten next year.
After surgery, I went to visit Karen in the pediatric ward. My puppet, Julito the Dragon, came along with me. At first, Karen had tears in her eyes from the surgery and the foreign surroundings, but once she saw Julito, she became curious about me and the puppet. Tomorrow, Julito and I will see Karen off, wishing her a bright and hopeful future.