Devotion this morning was led by Sharon Devine (interpreter), who has been coming to Guatemala for years with Faith In Practice and participates on multiple village team trips a year. She shared her personal journey of faith and how she has been able to put it into practice. Together, we all sung "Here I Am Lord" and closed with the serenity prayer. It was a beautiful final devotion to commence our final day in clinic.
We received the stats from the day prior, where it was reported that we saw 450 patients: 110 general, 94 Pediatrics, 57 gynecology, 64 dental, and 51 VIA/cryo. We had a record number of patients with referrals with 111 patients in one day. There were 23 ultrasounds and over a hundred labs performed.
One of the first women this morning was a named Mirna. She had no legs, but was in a blue wheelchair from an Fath In Practice wheelchair clinic she had attended in the past. Mirna was not feeling well and was in much pain due to severe diarrhea – as you can imagine this would be very difficult as a paraplegic in a wheelchair. Mirna needed adult diapers but was unable to afford them. One of the Fath In Practice staff members did not hesitate to leave the clinic to go purchase these for her to take home. This would allow her to preserve her dignity, feel more comfortable, and ease some of her financial stress.
Next, a kindergarten teacher at the school that clinic was held came to be seen. Her complaints were not severe, she has some knee pain that she attributes to being overweight. She said that she continues to teach so that she can stay active and healthy for her students and set a good example. She worries if she didn’t work she would be in worse health.
There is a little boy pictured in the photo gallery, he is fast asleep in a chair while his mom was being seen. He was seen by the pediatrician yesterday, but his mother’s clinic ticket was for today so his family made the trek to clinic twice in the last 48 hours! He is so tired because this morning his family left their house to walk to clinic at 4 am. He represents one of the many that travel from so far away to be seen by Fath In Practice. It is amazing how they never once complained or requested to switch to the same day, which we likely would have done. The Guatemalan people continue to be so gracious!
The last patient to be seen at clinic today was a 14-year-old boy who was presenting with pain in both his knees, which he says he has had his entire life. He is still able to be active but after playing sports and running around he is in pain. After a physical examination, all of his joints had full range of motion. Frank, one of the pediatricians, happened to be walking by and when he saw it was a young boy being seen by Gayle, he popped in to the room. He performed an examination and immediately recognized that this boy had Osgood-Schlatter disease, a condition that affects the growth plate of the bone below the knee. He instructed the boy to apply ice after physical activity and to take anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen. This story is one of many on this trip that exemplifies the amount of collaboration and teamwork that is able to occur during our clinics. There are so many different specialists on this team and it so unique how we are able to practice together. Compared to practice in the U.S., here we are able to easily consult someone by running across the school yard and quickly get an answer or a second opinion. It is truly remarkable and refreshing to practice so effortlessly here and have such an impact.
Finally, today we also wanted to give a shout out to Senora Scruggs’ 6th grade Spanish class in Asheville, North Carolina! One of our gynecologists, Christi Hunt, travels to Guatemala with letters written from students from Senora Scruggs’ class to give to Guatemalan children to read. Each letter is personalized and talks about what each student likes to eat and things they like to do (and are also accompanied by drawings to illustrate). The Guatemalan children who received the letters (see in photo gallery) were so excited to read their letters. Thank you Senora Scruggs and her 6th graders!
At the end the day, the mayor of San Cristobal came to thank our Fath In Practice team and handed out beautful handmade gifts to each individual volunteer! They included bracelets, earings, key chains, and decorative metals. The gratitude expressed by this village and the first is beyond anything we would have every expected. Thank you to the wonderful village leaders, the schools, and the community.
On our way home from the last day of clinic in San Cristobal, we were able to stop at a church in the village originally built in 1654 (see photo in gallery)! There we were greeted by the priest, who took time out of his day to describe the decadent façade on the outside of the church as well as its history. The church is a Mayan interpretation (mixed with Hispanic culture) of Christianity and the Gospel that was described to them back in the 16th century by Dominican friars. The priest gave us a special blessing and thanked us for all of our efforts these past few days. He stated that he had heard of our presence from all the visitors passing through to come be seen by the American doctors. It was such a beautiful way to end our clinic journey.
Stay tuned for our final blog post that will follow our dinner celebration tonight!