Back in NYC for Ostin’s Second Operation

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Yesterday, we arrived at The Ronald McDonald House at 9:30 a.m. to pick up Ostin and Karla. Everyone was familiar with the pre-op routine…no food or drink, and keep Ostin as distracted as possible so he wouldn’t obsess about it. He was admitted to Lenox Hill Hospital and we were sent to the pediatric floor where he was assigned a room and given the freedom to play. Later, the crew from Inside Edition arrived to take some pictures and videos. Ostin was shy at first but then took command of the situation…he hid behind his iPad and filmed all the crew, while greeting each one with “hola!” He thoroughly entertained all of us.

We headed to the pre-op room for consents, questionnaires, and monitoring. The whole process went much more smoothly than last time. Once again, Karla walked Ostin into the O.R., and returned in tears…this is the hardest moment for her. She called her husband in Honduras and was able to update him about the operation. He would then share the news with his family and then their church, where they have been lighting candles and constantly praying.

The operation took about 5 1/2 hours, and the doctors explained it was called “a face lift incision” (a surgical line starting from above his ear to bellow his chin). They were able to successfully remove the lymphatic debris. Preserving the facial nerve was especially difficult due to the lymphatic matter being “cemented” around the nerve. Both surgeons were pleased with the results and explained he will return home with a drainage tube (which will remain for up to 4 weeks), his stitches will be removed in 10 days and he will have another procedure in 4 weeks. Ostin and Karla were settled in for the night.

This morning when we arrived Ostin was in a significant amount of pain but just as defiant in taking any medication. He had already ripped out his IV so they were no longer able to administer it that way. One brilliant nurse injected his medicine into a juice box, and with tremendous amounts of coaxing (and bribing), we were able to get the medicine in. This operation was more extensive, covering a larger area and we expect the recuperation to take longer.

Thank you all for your continued support.

The challenges of life with a lymphatic malformation

 

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It’s been almost a month since Ostin received his first surgery at Lenox Hospital, in New York City. The surgery and recovery went well, and Ostin was thrilled when the drainage tube was removed and the medications were finished. He was freer to play and became more relaxed and engaging with us, and met new friends, as well.

This past weekend, his eye became more swollen and bruised. Reluctantly, I texted a picture to one of his physicians, not wanting to bother him on a Sunday but concerned he might need immediate attention. The doctor wondered if he had a hemorrhage, and said if the pain was tolerable, he could wait for his scheduled appointment on Tuesday.

As it turned out, it was not a hemorrhage, rather it was lymphatic fluid which had built up. Early this morning, Ostin underwent anesthesia and then the doctor was able to remove 5 cc’s of fluid, and give him steroid injections to the upper and lower eyelids.

Once again, Ostin showed his spirited self…protesting the abstinence of food/liquid before the procedure, and making it known that he wanted to leave the hospital ASAP. He thought he could hasten the process by removing his hospital ID and the IV himself.

Ostin is happy to be back home, snuggled in his bed. The nurse had suggested giving him tylenol but we have learned, he would rather deal with the pain than swallow any medicine. Hopefully, Ostin will continue to make strides in the treatment of his lymphatic malformation. His next surgery is scheduled for March 25th.

 

Welcoming Ostin and Karla

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Ostin and Karla arrived safely to New York City. Although they’re both mobile, we had requested a wheelchair so that someone could help navigate them through immigration and customs in Miami. A couple who happened to meet them in Honduras, escorted them to meet us and handed me a small bag, smiling as she said, “this is all they have.” It didn’t surprise me at all, nor did seeing Ostin in sandals about to face the freezing cold. Part of me admires the simplicity, and how much I over pack every time I travel. But I also know the reality that Ostin does not have sneakers or other footwear, things we often take for granted.

As we headed to the exit, we handed them winter coats, but they didn’t seem too interested. Once we opened the door to the parking garage, the look of shock on Karla’s face was priceless. “Mucho frio” (very cold) as her eyes widened and she gasped in the cold air! She quickly grabbed the jackets and wrapped Ostin in his new quilt. As we opened up the car door, the next cultural adjustment to hit them…a car seat! We quickly learned Ostin is no fan of these and his piercing screams remind us.

Fortunately, it was a short ride to our hotel. I had reserved one room because I didn’t want them to feel afraid and alone, but I did wonder if this was a wise choice as we tried to settle in for the night. The night actually went better than I expected, and before I knew it I woke up hearing Ostin saying, “que es eso?, que es eso?” (what is that, what is that) as he stared out the window. A whole new world before his eyes as he stared at the street in New York City filled with cars, and buses and construction trucks (his favorite). He’d only been in the city for eight hours and was overly stimulated by the sights, sounds, and temperatures. The adventure had begun.

Christmas Throughout The Year

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Christmas is coming…how do you feel? The other day I was asked, “are you stressed by what to buy for Christmas? and I could honestly say, “no.” It’s not that I don’t look forward to buying gifts for my family and friends and watching their reactions when they open the presents (and hopefully like them). I enjoy letting others know I am thinking of them, and they are special to me. But, I also know they are often  just “things” and  last temporarily.

Maybe this feeling is just something that happens as we get older? The days have long since past when I searched the Sears Wish Book and wrote my long list to Santa. Or more significantly, I believe it’s how my experiences in Honduras have enlightened me. Every visit teaches me more about others, as well as, myself.

My daily thoughts drift to my Honduran friends. They have made the greatest impact in my life…the way I think, the way I act and react in different situations, and certainly what I value in my life. I continually catch myself thinking how trivial many things are in my life…”what should I make for dinner?” “which is the better medicine?” “what should I buy someone for Christmas?”

These types of “dilemmas” would never cross the minds of people in Honduras. I certainly shouldn’t think of these situations as stressful and be reminded how fortunate I am…my friends in Honduras couldn’t comprehend these scenarios and certainly would be grateful to be in my position.

My experiences in Honduras are lasting gifts and ones I treasure throughout the year, not just at Christmas time. Thank you to all who continually teach me life changing lessons. Merry Christmas!

Honduras through the eyes of its children

Our Journey for Hope is putting on a photo exhibit with all proceeds going to Esperanza – Hope For The Children, Inc. The photos being showcased were all taken by children in Honduras, many of whom had never held a camera in their life. The event is next Friday, March 8th, at 6:30pm at Reasons to be Cheerful (110 Commonwealth Ave, Concord, MA). Hope to see you there!

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Honduras Prison Fire

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This post is written by Rick Lania

We would like to let everyone know that Emily, Tom, and the Moir family who are currently in Honduras with them are all safe and sound at this time. As many news outlets are reporting, there was a major fire in a Comayagua prison last night. There are discrepancies from what Emily has told me is being said in Honduras and what is being reported online but the death toll is in the hundreds.

Before my family built a house in Honduras, we use to stay at Hotel Santa Maria which is located right next to this prison and is only separated by a soccer field. I’m still in a bit of shock that this place I use to run by all the time is now gone and so many lives were lost.

When I spoke with Emily this morning she told me that they were still attempting to take the kids to school in Comayagua but were unsure if it would be open or if they would even be able to get there because you have to drive by the prison to get there. Emily, Tom, and Ana had also planned on touring a hospital in Comayagua with the Moirs today, to show them the conditions. But now with so many people in need of critical care that won’t be possible.

I’ll continue to keep Esperanza’s blog and facebook page updated as I recieve more information from Emily and Tom. Our thoughts are with all the Honduran families affected by this tragic event.

The More I Learn, The Less I Know

I often find myself reflecting on words of wisdom from Ana. She has told me before, ¨Emily, you will see the situation differently when you stay here for longer periods of time. People´s lifestyles will drive you crazy. They will be doing the same thing every day…watching t.v.¨It´s a sharp contrast to Ana who is in constant motion, with a racing mind whose words can´t keep up, and she often stops mid sentence and asks, ¨what were we talking about?¨Ana is so driven to help others, believing it is her responsibility to serve.

Even though Tom and I spent a month here from mid October to mid November, Ana is correct and I am seeing things in a new light. Our previous visit was consumed with projects around the house, patients to care for, families to visit, homework with the children, and new places to visit. This time I am here for 12 days before Tom´s arrival and I have had the opportunity to witness more deeply the reality of people´s lives. I am watching in depth their daily struggles for survival, and it´s wearing.

People often ask me, ¨are the people in Honduras happy?” I still don´t know how to answer that because I realize that people act differently when I am around. Although I´ve known many for years, there´s still so much I don´t know about their lives, feelings and dreams.

And yes, most of the people are doing the same thing day after day…and it´s difficult to know whether people lack initiative to change their lives or are stuck because they lack the knowledge, or there simply aren´t viable options. The resources here are so limited….in Flores, there is no playground or library. People suffer from boredom and the feeling spreads, and it is palpable. It is no wonder that people ¨escape¨with drugs and alcohol, and get sucked into gangs and violence.

Tom arrives tomorrow and I´m anxiously awaiting his arrival. I am grateful to have had the chance of being here alone because it is only through the experience that I truly could have learned. I look forward to being together and sharing the day´s events, and having someone else to lean on.