Volunteers always talk about how amazing it is to work on Medical Missions, but I was still surprised by how incredible it really was. The first day, I worked with a doctor in triage, selecting the patients that they could help and having to turn away those who didn't qualify. I was a little overwhelmed by the number of little children who came in with severe burns, cleft lips and palates, and other birth defects. There were young people who were burned from throwing gasoline on burning garbage, women whose ex-boyfriends had thrown acid on them, and men with scars from bullet and knife wounds.
On Monday through Thursday, however, I was able to see the amazing operations that the MACLA doctors performed for FREE in order to help such patients. I spent most of my time working with the little kids, keeping them calm and talking to their parents until it was time for me to carry them into the operating room. They were often REALLY scared (as I would be!) but I was able to keep my composure because I knew that, when healed, the kids would discover that their lives were greatly improved. Many kids regained function in their hands and arms, had their cleft palates closed, and had unsightly tumors and keloids removed.
What most amazed me about myself, was that I DIDN'T pass out and die the minute that I saw peoples' bodies being cut open. I was still a little uneasy...but I actually stuck around! A few years ago I couldn't handle a PIG dissection! And I was so in awe at how much the recovery nurses were able to comfort the kids after their surgeries. So now, in ADDITION to wanting to be a teacher, psychologist, and public health worker, I also want to be a nurse! :)