July was packed full of adventure and learning as Em and I traveled to Peru to trek the 26 mile Inca trail to Machu Picchu. At 9000 feet we began our trek and for four days and three nights we lived on the mountain. Hiking to the highest point of 14,000 feet, then descending to the SunGate at 9,000 feet, and finishing at Machu Picchu at 7,800 feet. It wasn’t just an up-down trail – but an up-down-up-up-up-down-down-up-down trail… At times I found my knee hitting my nose as I climbed the steps that had been placed by the Inca’s hundreds of years ago. We’d rise anywhere between 4:30 and 6 am and hike all day, making sure we’d make it to the next campsite before dark. It was a trek that tested our emotional and physical beings, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat !! Our adventure did not stop there, we did several other smaller treks; met and worked with Q’ero Shaman, made a few stops at the markets, and ended the trip with volunteer work in the hospitals in Cusco with Smile Network International. For this volunteer work, we spent a day helping screen over 100 children for the possibility of surgery to correct cleft palate or cleft lip. Over the rest of the week, the surgeons did over 50 surgeries . Em and I were blessed to have helped for three surgeries before we headed back to the US.
Julio was our second patient we followed that day. He was 17 and had traveled to the hospital two days earlier for the screening process. He was nervous and shook in the chair as we waited for the thumbs up for when they were ready for him in the operating room. This was going to be an hour long surgery to repair his cleft lip. The surgeon, physician’s assistant and anesthesiologist gave us the boundaries for sterile safety, yet encouraged us to watch and ask questions. If we felt any queasiness we were to back up to the wall and sit down.
Julio never knew his father, since he died when Julio was a baby, and Julio’s mother left him before he was a year old to go start another family – as was explained through our interpreter. He was raised by his two uncles and aunt. During Julio’s surgery and recovery, it was Emma and my job to communicate to the family his status. We were excited to tell his uncles when he was all done with his surgery. That the surgeon said Julio will be all ready to ‘kiss the girls now’. This removed the worried look from their faces and they laughed. We waited with Julio in post-surgery as the anesthesia began to wear off.
We walked back out to the waiting area to tell his uncles he was now awake and we would soon be moving him to the recovery ward where he would stay overnight. At this time we had a chance to sit down with his uncles and learn more about them. We learned that Julio was very shy in school, and was made fun of most his life. He loved soccer and math. Though he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do when he grew up, his uncles hoped he would become a truck driver. He had step siblings but didn’t see them very often and his mother did not know he was at the hospital having the surgery. The uncles were quick to add they thought they would take him to see her and surprise her. They thought Julio’s life would change now, and others would no longer stare at him. They thought this surgery would allow all doors to open for him and it would give him better chances in life.
We returned to the post op ward to help transport Julio to the recovery section of the hospital and we waited for his Uncles to join us there. Em and I encouraged him to take deep breaths and drink juice. The looks on his Uncles faces when they walked in to the room will forever be remembered by Em, I and the interpreter. There was not a dry eye in the room ! To think his life changed in ONE hour. Our 26 mile mountain trek suddenly felt insignificant to the miles this 17 year old had lived.
When we got home, I washed and dried the hospital scrubs we’d work in while at the hospital. From the dryer fell a dime. This dime had been in Em’s scrub pants pocket. When we were preparing for Julio’s surgery, the surgeon picked up a dime from the operating room floor and handed it to Em, saying ‘it must be your lucky day’. Em and I locked eyes, and we both began to tear up. I often talk about signs from heaven – like finding pennies and dimes and sometimes even feathers in odd places. So here on this operating room floor in Cuzco Peru, as his son’s surgery was to begin Julio’s dad wanted our attention. He had a message. He was there with his son and wanted to thank everyone in the room for the love, support and all the work they were doing. Em quickly put the dime in her pocket as we were asked to focus on the work ahead.
Later when it was time for us to leave the hospital for the airport, we made one last visit to say goodbye to Julio. He was more alert now. We hugged, said our words of joy and blessings and left with full hearts. To the seventeen year old boy who’s future is bright and full of promises and to his family that walked for hours to bring him to the hospital so he could have this surgery – we send our love.
Love and Light to you … Laurie
Full Moon – August 10, A great time to release
New Moon – August 25, A great time to set intents