We were up at 5 am. Pastor Andy and his wife Cheryl led us in an uplifting devotional and song, at 5:30 am.
Cindy Pekow handed out prizes for the “scrubs costume” contest: Dr. Silvia Recinos was dressed in Traje (traditional Guatemalan dress), Debra Caspers was an angel, Cheryl Gans was a clown, the GYN clinicians were royals clad in tiaras, pharmacy wore "happy hats," and the group from Washington were Santas. It’s a festive group considering it was still dark outside (“O’ dark:thirty”)! After breakfast and abundant coffee, we boarded the bus at 6:40 AM to head to the village.
Working in the pharmacy, where I have been helping out, is more than just learning how to fill prescriptions. Every single person, young and old, gets vitamins. There are many who don’t understand their symptoms or how to take care of themselves. Pharmacy was like a little miracle for them. Relief from pain, scabies, infections—plus eyeglasses.
I was so impressed with the pharmacy team, and so proud to work with them —Sylvia Peterson, Cindy Pekow, Craig Walker, and Trish McElroy. They are making judgment calls on drug interactions, dosages, and the best relief for side effects, nonstop, all day, and while on their feet. When we got our first patient needing eyeglasses, Roberto, he put on a pair of reading glasses and his eyes filled up with tears. He gave me the biggest hug and wouldn’t let go. Recognizing that I didn’t speak Spanish he told me in broken English, “a little bit helps so much.” His heart was so filled with gratitude.
Sonia Alizzi, an RN from Houston, started in triage first thing in the morning, for her first time, and reported that it was exhilarating to be able to help people identify their needs and direct them to the right clinic.
In pediatrics, Rebecca Bloch-Lopez translated for Dr. Mary O’Brien as a four-year-old described leg pain below the knees. Luckily it was just growing pains.
Fidelia, age 69, lives here in San Francisco, Zapotitlan. She worked on a farm until she was 30 years old, when she developed rheumatoid arthritis. She now lives with her niece as she is unmarried, and she recently broke her hip. As she was getting fitted for a wheelchair she let us photograph her gnarled little hands. She was so beautiful and regal in her Traje. This wheelchair will bring her independence. The neighbor who brought her tells us in Spanish, “for us, it is such a blessing that you are here.”
Felipa, age 75, was very recently widowed after thirty years and could not sleep as she was stricken with grief from the loss of her husband. She has had diabetes for 22 years. She lost one leg above the knee two years ago, and then below the knee, one year ago. She lives alone, and is so fiercely independent, that she was asking that her wheelchair be collapsible, so she could get it into a tuk tuk (Guatemalan rickshaw taxi). The entire physiatrist team was so impressed with her.
We were all hot and sticky at the end of the day, so when we returned to the hotel, a group of us gathered at the pool. It was so refreshing. And Doug Alexander found a swimming buddy, a little iguana was trying to cool off too.
The message came through today loud and clear that we are truly blessed. It felt so good to give some of what we have to those in need.