Mead Minutes: Instant friends

Good morning from the Philippines! The rains have continued and the plants are rapidly responding. Allergies are unfolding as well, leading to sneezes and snorts, adding to the undercurrent noise of Davao.

Every week we at the Tebow CURE Hospital have a child or two that stand out from the others. Often they may have a difficult problem that pushes the surgeon to a high level of stress, way beyond their comfort zone. For me, this may be a high grade scoliosis curvature of the spine, a complex deformity due to scarring of an old burn, weird angular deformities, anything involving the tumor called neurofibromatosis, and kids with arthrogryposis multiplex congenital (stiff joint disease). Being the only pediatric orthopedic hospital on the island of Mindanao, the possibility of encountering children with these deformities is high. This week we are hitting a trifecta—ankylosing spondylitis of the hips, a large scoliosis curvature of the spine, and a large neurofibroma of the cheek. Ouch! These children are not all of the kids coming, of course. We still have kids with clubfoot to correct and bent bones to straighten, but these others will steal some sleep.

A photo of Rex from Philippines. Learn more at https://cure.org/curekids/philippines/2016/05/rex/

Rex from the Philippines

Last week I had two young boys who stood out as special for me—Rex and Salrach. Both of these young guys took a tumble while climbing. Both broke their humerus bone above the elbow. Both bones healed in wildly crooked fashions.

Both young guys came to clinic having been seen elsewhere and had been told nothing could be done. Both boys share the story of being an outcast among their peers. Both came to the exam room looking very fearful that “nothing could be done” was the truth, but leaving smiling at a run for the playroom. Their problem was one my favorites to fix.

Rex and Sal became good friends in the playroom. As God would plan, both arrived at Tebow CURE the same day. Rex kept pushing the nurses to “get done”; they had a playroom to escape to!

Surgery went well, unwinding and straightening the arms. Clinically, the bones were straightened and the range of motion restored to normal. A couple of pins held the position. A dressing and splint protected the work—these are active boys, after all.

The next day both boys smiled and moved their fingers rapidly—my instructions for post-operation care for them. As soon as rounds were done, I heard them leaving for the playroom for video games and other pursuits.

When the day of discharge arrived, both boys agreed they needed to stay, maybe for a month or so. Rex and Sal’s smiles and joyful healing were infectious. They agreed to leave if they could return on the same date so they could challenge each other again. That was something we could accommodate without a problem.

Some children greet me with a tearful smile. Others give a fist bump or high five. Some bless me by placing my hand on their forehead. These two give a rapid clasp and release hand exercise and a radiant smile. All the kids in all this country are special to me. I have been truly blessed as I serve the physically disabled in His grip.





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Photo of the Tim Mead

About the Author:

Dr. Mead served as the Medical Director of CURE Kenya from 1999 until 2011. After that, he headed up orthopedics at the CURE Oasis Hospital in Al Ain, UAE, followed by a time as the Medical Director at the Tebow CURE Hospital in the Philippines. Dr Mead currently serves as CURE’s Senior Orthopedic Consultant, traveling to various CURE hospitals, supporting and mentoring physicians across the network. He is a U.S. board certified orthopedic surgeon from Muskegon, Michigan, with specialized training in pediatrics. Prior to joining CURE, Dr. Mead ran an orthopedic practice in western Michigan providing a broad range of surgical reconstructive services, including joint replacement and arthroscopic surgery.

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