First of all these posts might be long and tedious, but I have to record the trip...I would try to write it in a more interesting or humorous way but I am still so tired my brain isn't yet to a level of functioning that can be interesting, creative, or humorous.... yes --no jet lag going, but as you can see it's killing me on the way back-- 4 am anyone?...really I even dream in Jordan (complete with people speaking arabic- if this tells you how tired I am my subconscious can't even remember where I am -- or that I don't speak arabic-- maybe it's trying to tell me I know more arabic than I think-- shokran? afwan?) also it's about time for the new blogger editor to get the spell check feature??)
Day 6 (surgery Day 3) Day three was another full day of palate surgeries. So lots of 2-3 hr procedures. It makes the progress of the day feel a little slower- especially by about the 3rd case of the day. By this time too post op is full of patients from past surgeries so it's usually one of the really busy days of the week. Sometimes you feel like the pied piper when you walk through post op because a stream of children start following you around in post op. The students who helped me so much during screening were visiting a school, and orphanage, and a refugee camp as well as following kids through the surgery process so I was pretty much on my own. Dusty, the clinical coordinator was excellent. She kept things running so smoothly. We had an excellent system worked out with the charts and dbl checking patients as they went in. I did try to write my name in arabic on the playroom wall -I asked if it looked like a 5yr old's arabic- they told be no- It looked like a 7 yr old's so that made me feel good.
Marty, on of the pedi anesthesia docs and I started to plan ahead an ciculate a time to meet up for anyone who wanted to go out. When everyone heard they decided to plan a team dinner, which was great so we went to Marsa Beirut. I should've taken more pictures. Because the architecture was amazing (you know my love of modern architecture) So gorgeous. Again we had course after course after course of the most delicious food, all family style. We ate for a few hours. I felt bad though as some of the team had to go back to check on a patient and the post op team wasn't able to come.
Day 7 (surgery day 4) This was the last full day of surgeries so another fairly full day. This trip had very few primary lip repairs. Most had already had their lips done and needed their palates repaired, or scar revisions, we were also doing nevus and burn patients. This night I promised the pre -post of nurses I would wait for them for dinner because they hadn't been back in time for dinner for the last two nights. Hasan and Abdallah two of our favorite translators (they are medical students in Jordan) offered to take us out around Amman (Abdallah has a hilarious "bachelor doctor" sign on his car- I promised to give their numbers out to cute single girls headed to jordan). The last bus arrived in time so Jamie came with Amanda (student sponsor), Lisa and Taylor (the students), and myself. The other people opted to stay home. The guys were so nice and drove us all over Amman, They took us shopping at the Mecca Mall (and really we were lucky because we were the only people who go to go shopping on the trip- thats how busy we were) they even negotiated for 10 minutes to get us into a closed store. We got to join in the party after a Jordanian soccer team win (they was much honking, singing, flag waving) and they made reservations for us for an absolutely fabulous dinner out at Rajeen. They also told us alot of about the history of Jordan and the culture and customs. We ate so much of the most delicious food, I couldn't even eat breakfast the next day I was still so full. They we sweet and hospitable and wouldn't let us pay for dinner, despite our best efforts to sneak the money back to the them in cards (this involved a quite a comical event involving 5 of us in the hotel elevator a trying to sign cards and it turning off while we were in it and going up and down to the same floors and opening 3 times on the same workers who couldn't not figure out what all these american women were doing covertly in the elevator). All I can say I every evening on this trip if you were with me something funny/memorable happened and there was alot of laughing!
Day 8- Surgery day 5 (shorter day) The surgery schedule is lighter the last day and then it's time ot pack up and pack up the ORs. It's always a sad day because it means the trip is over.Really I get teary eyed when I take down the playroom. As I throw away the signs where all the patients signed their names, where we recorded the high scores from our playroom basketball games, and all the personal notes from people wishing us well in our work. We had some adult cases later on the schedule so we finished up with the kids fairly early. I did have the best soccer game in the outer or hallway with a 9 yr old boy. I made tape goals on the floor. One of the fathers was quite disapproving of such wild riotous behavior in the hospital (and tried to let the air out of the ball) but I assured him I was allowed in fact this was my job to keep the kids calm and happy and comfortable and engaged in developmentally appropriate activities. It was a really fun game especially when I fell on the floor and the 20 parents couldn't help but laugh. (it was really funny). They made knafah for us at lunch. It's this really interesting pastry-- it's cheese on the bottom then this orange colored cake on top soaked in a sweet syrup and sprinkled with pistachios (it sounds odd but actually really good- a mix of sweet and salty).
After we got back I went to the Food City with Khadija, the most delightful anesthesiologist from South Africa. I bought fun foods and drinks to bring back for my kids. (of course some lion bars as I got addicted to those when I was doing study abroad in Jerusalem and Egypt) That night was the final party. A bunch of the girls came to my room to get glammed up for the party. So I was dolling out clothes jewelry, curlers (set of 5 dual voltage curlers- these are the secret to fast hair on intl trips), and makeup for the occasion. I really am not glamorous on missions but I was voted the glamorous one... I just bring lots of black that was you feel more glam than you really are.
The final parties on missions are the best, it's just the best celebration of the friendship and work of the week. There is always a ton of picture taking, food and hours of dancing. We tried some dubya dancing- can't say I totally mastered that but I can still still get down and party. It's so fun to go dancing in other countries. Every country has it's own style- kenya, siberia, the philippines, morocco, you name it- different cultures use different rhythms and dance from different parts of their bodies- it's always fun to watch (like middle eastern is more up and down and shoulder based). So a late night getting back from the party.
Final day- Team Day in petra. Friday we left early for Petra it's about a 3.5 hr bus ride from Amman. I never realized Petra was so big. Everyone is used to seeing the pictures fo the treasury but not much else. Really we spent over 4 hours hiking and still didn't get to all of it. And how it's all carved out of the rock- well it's really amazing. As an artist I can appreciate it alot (probably because my attempts at sculpture carving from plaster blocks were quite pathetic!). I remember going places like the temple of karnak and luxor in egypt and think how hard it would be to carve such giant things, because if you mess up it's ruined. Still when compared to petra that feels minor (a statue is one thing if oyu mess up you can get a new chunk of stone, but when it's all carved out of one wall of stone- that would be tough. There are horses, burros, camels. I think they camels like me especially- after riding them in Turkey, at the pyramids in Giza, and for a few hours up mt sinai on a camel- I am cool with them.
We rode the bus back to Amman and quick changed clothes no time for a shower and headed straight to the airport. I must say the security in the airport is thorough in Amman- 3 rounds, 2 xrays, 2 full body pat downs, full carryon searches. Still even after 8 hours on a bus 5 hrs of hiking, and smelling like camels jordanian hospitality still shines through and you still get winked at my at least a few of the passport guys...who remind you that you are always welcome in Jordan. All I can say is after only 5 hhrs of sleep every night. I was out before the plane took off from Amman. I got a middle row all to myself. (shh down't tell I even wore my pjs on the plane-- I don't think anyone could tell- they were gray microfleece pants) slept through all 4 movies.and woke up just before JFK. Made it it through customs said good byes and boarded my plane back to BOS. I was greeted by my boys bearing their newly earned pinewood derby trophies and a giant "we missed you mom!" sign on the door!
**Disclaimer** I publish in rough draft, uncut form and I "just say no" to spell checker.
As a mom busy growing up 3 little boys, I want to teach them to be smart! And by that I mean to think, to make wise choices, to care about the important things, to help make the world better, and use up their lives on the things that really matter.