February 6, 2015
My Cydcor and Operation Smile Experience – Darlene Mitchell
In November 2014, Cydcor sent a group of representatives on a medical mission trip to Guatemala for Operation Smile. Our own Darlene Mitchell, Chief Information Officer and Vice President of Technology at Cydcor, wrote the following about her time in Guatemala:
It was thrilling to join such an outstanding group on the Operation Smile medical mission to Guatemala. Though I was unsure what to expect, I knew we would touch the lives of others and, in turn, be forever changed by the experience. We were fortunate to experience several aspects of the mission: registration day, child life/prep, surgery, recovery, pre- and post-op, and medical records processing. I enjoyed learning about and contributing to each aspect of the entire process.
Registration day was filled with beautiful souls and families anxious for help. The extended Cydcor and field team had fun connecting with families, playing with the children, and attempting to put the families at ease. With stickers, jump ropes, and balls everywhere, the children were in good spirits. The poverty of some was difficult to comprehend; while some children arrived in their Sunday best, others clearly had not bathed for some time. For example, I heard one young mother had a headache on surgery day so she went around asking for change to purchase some medicine. She asked the nurses if she could change the hospital beds to earn money for aspirin, and when the nurse offered her several aspirin free of charge, the young mother burst into happy tears at the gift.
On one of the days, I spent several hours playing with a group of toddlers – Gladys, Genesis, and William – in the Child Life area where we helped calm the children and parents before surgery. The children warmed up to me quickly, and after their surgeries I was fortunate to be in the recovery room ready to comfort the children, who often wake up scared. Gladys was the first one back from surgery. As she woke up, the doctor was holding her as she asked for her mom. When she saw me there, she reached out her arms for me and the doctor let me step in to receive her sweet hug. I talked to her and comforted her until she was stable enough for her mom to come in. Nothing warms the heart like a child’s embrace.
Next to return from surgery was Genesis. The nurses let me hold and rock Genesis for some time, and as long as I was singing and rocking her, she was calm. I felt honored that she recognized my voice enough to be calmed by it until it was time to hand her over to her mother. Genesis’s mom was so happy to see me with her daughter and so thankful for the work of the doctors and nurses of Operation Smile. She thanked everyone profusely as she held Genesis and left recovery for post-op. I am so grateful to have met these wonderful families and, in some small way, make a difference. The children will forget the surgery and everything they went through, but I will always remember them.
Given the chance to observe several surgeries, I found myself fascinated with the process as the surgeons worked their magic and changed these children’s lives forever. The Cydcor team helped wherever needed, from decorating and updating patient files to making connections like the ones I made. The professionalism and passion of all the volunteers and Operation Smile teams impressed me. As I spoke with the Cydcor team at the end of our journey, we all shared an even deeper passion for the cause and vowed to increase our efforts to raise money for this wonderful organization.
For additional information about Cydcor’s partnership with Operation Smile, head over to http://www.operationsmile.org/cydcor.