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Armenia Day 4

Jessica and Milagros

As a team member, and “gap filler,” I’ve spent the past few days picking up the pieces.  Where’s Dr. Horowitz?  Who does this child belong to?  Why is he crying?  Can you make copies of this?  Considering my Armenian vocabulary currently consists of approximately ten words (at its peak), I’ve been doing pretty well, and am continually amazed much can be communicated with hand signals and brow raises.   It’s beautiful watching the Plasticos and Armenian OR and recovery nurses anticipate each other’s moves, and doctors lightening the mood by tickling patients and joking with their parents.

Not to say there aren’t flops…this morning the Armenian Chief Nurse told me “good bye” instead of “good morning,” and shortly after I called a “bird” a “breast” to a group of doctors.   However, everyone has had an incredible sense of humor, and has shown immense patience, crucial to every bit of success in a cross-cultural environment.

Dr. Nichter tickling Nver Grigoryan before surgery.

The children are children.  Delightful.  Playful.  Scared.  I’ve been challenged to more games of tic-tac-toe than I can count.  And I actually have to try to win.   Milagros, who is now sharing a hospital room with Alivna (who is doing very well and in great spirits)is especially skilled.  I had the pleasure of meeting ten year old Milagros and her mother Mari the first day of our clinic, as she came to seek help for her deformed fingers.  We bonded before surgery, and I was there to comfort her as tears escaped her eyes when the IV was inserted, while her mom paced outside the OR as the surgery was taking place, and every morning since as she challenges me to even more tic-tac-toe over a cup of tea.  It’s humbling to remember even on the other side of the world people are the same, and it’s the connections you establish that are most valuable and make it most difficult to leave.

To be continued…

Jessica Bonthius

Team Member

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