Day 4- Day 3 in the clinics, first day at Caballo Blanco

Posted on: 01/17/2019

Author: Stacy Alexander

Totals from yesterday:

General Med - 166
Pediatrics - 72
Gynecology - 46
Dermatology - 70
Dental 74/extractions - 131
Cervical screening - 48/Biopsy - 1/ Cryo - 1
Wheelchairs - 18
Referrals - 113
Total # patients - 607
Not included but obviously important were labs (by Char Schumann, RN):
Pregnancy tests - 1
Urinalyses - 34
Hemoglobin - 49
Sugar/Glucose - 50
Temperature- 1
Plus approximately 10-13 Ear washings -times two - by Cathy Riggs, RN.
And Prescriptions filled: approximately 607!

The morning began with a devotional but this time group members shared the gifts that the Guatemalans have brought to us. They are the most gracious people. Linda Johnson noted their gratitude even after long waits - there are never any snide comments like “my, aren’t we running behind today.” Char Schumann observed that no one in the U.S. stands up and hugs you after getting their finger pricked for a blood test. Dr. Donna Moore said what struck her the most was the story of a 33 year old who had to be carried her whole life and her attitude about it all (full story can be found in yesterday‘s blog). Paul and Trish McElroy shared how a scared little girl, Daniela, was mollified with a little sticker. When she was presented with the whole page of stickers, she was overjoyed. As on previous mornings, Felipe Guitierrez, translated it all in Spanish for the Guatemalan Faith In Practice team.

It is true, we can learn much from these people. They epitomize kindness, gentleness, and patience.

And now for the ever-entertaining costume contest winners of the day. Dr. Michael Spohn and Dr. Robert Wright won first prize with their complementary white Coca-Cola polar bear and pink unicorn outfits. Robin Hardwicke handed out mustaches to everyone to accent their costumes. It was a hoot. Unicorns and Whoville characters looked even sillier mustachioed!

We boarded the buses at 6:50 a.m. It was Faith In Practice’s first time to work at the school in Caballo Blanco. When we pulled up, we see crowds of people that extend down the street. There were even more people than usual because a market was going on adjacent to the school (It is the normal Tuesday market that had been postponed due to a special Guatemalan celebration of the “Black Christ” on January 15) This school is much more rustic than San Francisco. Surrounded by dirt roads and open windows, a layer of dust covers everything. Everyone made quick work of setting up their clinics and in small groups, people began filing in to triage.

The first story of the day was about a young man who acquired an infection at age three and had literally been dragging himself around on the ground for years. As Dr. Donna Moore reports: 
"Herman was a healthy, active three-year-old when he got a central nervous system infection leaving him with partial paralysis of both legs and the right arm. He learned to crawl, putting weight on the back of his hand, deformed now due to spastic muscles. He has calluses on both knees and on the back of his right hand, a testament to how active he is at home. Now 19, crawling is still the fastest way for him to meet his needs. He can’t talk much do to aphasia (language deficiency) from brain damage, from the infection. But he is still smart, dresses himself, and grooms himself – independently. This handsome young man gave us a thumbs up after receiving his first ever wheelchair. He can now sit up for meals with his family, he can go out in the community, and he no longer has to crawl. Guatemala poses a challenge for those mobilizing in a wheelchair; uneven terrain and hardly any smooth pavement. But having a wheelchair will make such a difference in this young man's life.”

Herman was carried in. But he rode a wheelchair out. His expressions were priceless.

One thing I haven’t mentioned is the lunches. They are consistently delicious. We have had shredded beef over rice, breaded chicken cutlets, beef stew - always an array of vegetables for a salad, and a variety of fruits – and ice cold water and Gatorades! We owe it all to Hector Ortiz (Faith In Practice's cook) and his helpers. We are not quite sure how he works his magic in the small cocina (kitchen) – but we are so grateful.

In pharmacy, the prescriptions were coming in nonstop and were piling up. It was all hands on deck. We were working as fast as possible to fill them. Dr. Robert Wright included a couple encouraging little phrases on his prescriptions, like "Pharmacy Rocks!" and "Hello, lovely pharmacy ladies .. and Craig"   This made all of us laugh and feel appreciated. The day flew by because we were so busy.  One common ailment among the Guatemalans is scabies. It is easily transmitted from one family member to another. The medication prescribed for it is expensive. We were giving enough to treat the whole family so as to prevent reinfection. And then we ran out of the pill. Luckily, there are other things they can do such as washing their clothes in boiling hot water and drying them in the sun. We will be educating them about this process so they can prevent recurrences.

It was a long, hot day and we didn’t arrive back at the hotel until just before dinner. Practically all of us went to dinner in our dirty scrubs. We were reminded that as tired and hot as we were, we weren’t camping out in the street to get our medical care. We had a nice hotel to come back to, a nice meal and a hot shower. The small things become more meaningful. Thank you, God.


Stacy Alexander