Carlos — a smiling 12 year-old from a neighboring village — continued to extend his left index finger as we chatted about his visit and started his exam. Six months earlier, he had received a cutting injury to his palm, had it sutured, and eventually saw his skin heal nicely.
The cut flexor tendons of his finger, however, left Carlos’ hand in his permanently-celebrating position. “Could this be fixed?” asked his eager mother.
A single thought struck me as I reflected on this mother’s hope for her child’s healing, and on the privileged relationship a physician has with his patient. That thought was how fortunate I was, to be at that place and in that time. To participate in this healing profession, and to do so in a simple and unobstructed setting, provided me with a pure taste of what it is to be a physician.
On a sunny Spring morning at our surgery center, Carlos had reparative surgery on his disabled hand. The surgeon — who repaired the tendon to restore Carlos’ grip and dexterity — also rejoices at the opportunity to bring her skills to neighbors in need.
Some wound care and physical therapy are in Carlos’ future. He will receive those from the health care professionals who collaborate with our local physicians — some of whom, like me, volunteer through Mission Doctors of America.
Soon, Carlos will be celebrating with his index finger extended, but this time he will do so with all ten of them working.