VIAA CRYO: 45
MOBILITY CLINIC: 21
All together we saw 603 patients yesterday and still managed to pack up the clinic!
This morning we awoke to a deluge in the rainforest. Our tin roofs made the rain sound particularly magical, although the thought of setting up a clinic in such weather did not sound quite as magical. Luckily, as is typical in the rainforest, the downpour was finished by the time we headed to devotional. Although, as volunteer Tom found out, some of the chairs were still wet.
If the sound of the rain did not wake people up, the disco music blaring at breakfast sure did. Both of these were necessary today however because what had been an hour long bus ride/nap time to the first clinic, was now only a 7 minute ride down the road to our new clinic.
The new clinic is situated in a large area with a big grass field and a beautiful tree full of red flowers - “arbol de fuego” in the center of the yard. Cathy RN showed local volunteers how to identify the birds they were seeing in the tree with the help of her birdwatching guide. Next to this tree is a soccer field where Pastor Andy was communicating with the children through another universal language – fútbol, or as we call it in the USA, soccer. It was Andy against 7 children, but he seemed to be holding his own. The yard behind the school was home to a beautiful horse that watched us work throughout the day.
In triage today, several elderly members of indigenous tribes were accompanied by their grandchildren to help translate from their native languages to Spanish. A young boy who accompanied his mother hid behind a little piece of paper, and would peek out at me from time to time. When I looked back at him, he would hide all over again. It seems as though peek-a-boo is also universal. Cindy helped a woman and her five month old baby, and while they were talking the woman began breastfeeding. She stayed and chatted for a few more moments while the baby breastfed, and then she headed off to her clinic. These little human moments that I witnessed reinforced the fact that we are all more alike than we realize.
Throughout the morning, there were two incredible patients in the wheelchair clinic who did not let their disabilities and circumstances stop them from living. The first was a 66-year-old woman who had been unable to talk since birth, but is mentally competent and communicates with gestures. She made money by collecting plastic and glass bottles in the street and bringing them to factories that would repurpose them. She also made tortillas. In December, she fell and broke her hip. She had surgery the same month, but is still unable to walk and the wound is not fully recovered and causing her pain. She had been brought in on a lounge chair and was fitted with a new wheelchair. Another patient with an amazing story is a 25 year old named Rafael. He was shot by a drunk man, and the bullet scratched his spinal cord and paralyzed him. Five years later the bullet is still inside him but it has moved to his leg, and he is hoping that it can be removed. He has no family as they have all passed away, however he does not want to be a burden to others so he has found ways to utilize his skills and his hands. He makes rings out of coins, mostly initials and names, and also sews shoes. He then sells his work to earn money. Also, he participates in wheelchair races and won second place in the tattered wheelchair he arrived with. He had only had the wheelchair for a year and a half, but it was quite worn out. We remarked that this was because he was “demasiado rápido para eso” or too fast for it, and that he would definitely win first place in the new wheelchair. He is very self-sufficient, and told us he was planning on wheeling himself from the town of Poptún to the clinic, however this became unnecessary as someone offered to drive him. These individuals give us so much hope that the wheelchairs we provide can help them to live full lives in spite of their circumstances.
In the lab today, first time volunteer Jessica performed many ear lavages on patients – some had so much ear wax built up that they were unable to hear. This process can be rather uncomfortable especially for the young children, but she brought toys to distract them and bring them joy. In the end, they are much happier because they are able to hear again. Jessica had performed 12 by lunch time.
Felipe knew two patients who had been with Faith In Practice for many years, they had a condition caused by thyroid toxicosis, or unmanaged hyperthyroidism that cause facial deformities. Their eyes protruded rather far out of the socket, and the daughter had surgeries through Faith In Practice to correct this. The surgery was also offered to the mother, however she said “my husband loves me just as I am.”
In Gynecology, a 55 year old came in with her children. The team discovered that she had a uterine tumor, and CRYO found uterine cancer. While she was having the tests done, the kids were very well behaved, patiently waiting and quietly playing with toys. At the end of the day, they rushed her biopsy so that she would be at the front of the line in the cancer clinic in Guatemala City. This can be a very difficult process, so the team prayed for the woman together. Susan PA remarked “a group of people who have never worked together before became a close knit team within a matter of hours on the first day. It’s so nice to work with such a great group of people. Everyone is willing to fill in wherever and do whatever needs to be done whether they have experience with it or not.”
After returning to the hotel, the team enjoyed the opportunity to spend time at the hotel before the sun set. Some team members did yoga by the pool, led by Debra MD. Others hung out around the fire that the staff built for us.
It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is our last clinic day with this amazing team, but time flies when you spend it doing such meaningful work with such amazing people!