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“We All Love, We All Struggle…We are All the Same”

Allsion Godchaux, RN, FNP traveled with Healing the Children to Bahia de la Caraquez, Ecuador April 20 – 27, 2012. In total, they treated 70 patients, mostly children, and one emergent case of a 51 year-old homeless man. The group of 16 medical personnel performed cleft lip and cleft palate repairs; ear reconstructions; tonsillectomies and adenectomies; hernia repairs, scar revisions and many other necessary surgeries. Allison’s role was to be the ‘glue’ within the group. “As a family nurse practitioner I have medical education, training and experience, I have a background in nursing, and I speak Spanish. I was meant to flow between operating rooms, the recovery room, patient and family waiting areas, the upstairs floor where we occasionally needed to admit patients, and interact as a go-between between the volunteers, hospital staff, the health department and social services organization.”

Allison enjoyed seeing the faces of the mother and fathers as their kids came out of the recovery room the most. “The joy of their children being returned to them from surgery was beautiful to behold, as well as their gratitude to us for the services we provided. We go into nursing to help people. It is reaffirming to provide health services to others, and to be fully and honestly appreciated for what we do. The joy we received could even be from acts as simple as calming a scared child before surgery, or educating the parents afterwards about how to care for their child post-op. It was so enlightening and heart warming how they took everything we said, to heart. I have not one doubt in my mind that those children are not currently receiving every care possible from their families during their recovery.”

Allison reflects, “It was reaffirmed for me that people are people wherever they are, whatever language they speak. They love each other, their children, and will do what they can for them. They have similar concerns that we have for our children. We are all parents, we all love, we all struggle, and in that regard, we are all the same.”

One of them most memorable moments Allison recalls is a “51 year old male emergent patient that came in through the emergency room. The general surgeon assessed him and determined that he would do the surgery the next day. One local nurse said they would admit him that night, so he could be cleaned, prepped for surgery. The second nurse said he could not be admitted because he did not have family. I asked what the signficance was, of not having family. I was told that there is not enough nursing staff to provide this care, that it is the role of the family to provide it. As a homeless person, he did not have the family. Luckily, we had an extra nurse who provided all the care for him that they typically expect the family to do, or he might not have had the surgery, which he desperately needed. He was a humble man. Although we helped the children through our work, it is easier to take care of the kids, and not so much a homeless man. We definintly changed his life. I am grateful that we are allowed latitude to perform these exceptions.”

“My work hours had been reduced at my job, and it was doubtful to me whether or not I could afford this trip or even if I should take this trip. One Nurse at a Time (ONAAT) provided me with enough financial support that I felt I could justify my spending the remainder amount of money required to be able to go. It was also a validation to me, that ONAAT felt it important enough for me to go, that they were willing to help fund the trip.”

Allison Godchaux is a family nurse practitioner, in Kansas, at la Clinica Medica, and LifeWorks Wellness Center. She received her Master’s of Nursing degree at the University of Kansas Medical Center, Bachelor’s of Nursing degree at California State University, Sacramento. She enjoys her family, outdoor activities, and bicycling. Every year she rides her bicycle 150-180 miles, to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Allison has been part of a project vaccinating cats and dogs against rabies in Ecuador, with Los Amigos de las Americas; worked in an orphanage in Mexico, with Los Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos; and worked in Ecuador, with Healing the Children, as a recovery room nurse for children receiving cleft lip and cleft palate repair. Allison has also served in the United States Naval Reserve for 13 years as a Hospital Corpsman, with the Fleet Marine Force, and Naval Cargo Battalions.

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