Welcome to triage day!
We started our day at 6:30 for breakfast, team prayer, and morning devotional. The devotional was focused around changing our mindset to be that of a child in the image of God. We should all be like children innocent and open. Children are so eager to love everyone; they don’t often see what adults scrutinize in others. Children don’t believe they are better than anyone or judge one another based off of materialistic things or money. We need to forget about the world’s standards of a person’s worth and know that no one is better than anyone else as we were all made in God’s image. We need to humble ourselves and have humility in this world. A great lesson before starting our day with people coming from different backgrounds and needs. It prepared our hearts to be open and understanding.
Triage day is full of preparation for the upcoming week filled with patients. During this day we take our time meeting with each patient through Faith In Practice to evaluate their needs and setting up all of the supplies we have had shipped or brought with us in the time leading up to the trip. During these consultations with patients it is determined if they are a viable candidate for surgery in their current state of health. We receive such a great level of potential patient applications during this time that we cannot actually accept them all due to the team’s timeframe here. Surgeries are only scheduled Monday-Thursday to make sure that the Physical Therapists and after care of each patient is covered the following day.
Asociacion Obras Sociales Del “Santo Hermano Pedro” is the hospital we work out of and it is gorgeous. It’s an old yellow building with white trim and various points that indicate it’s religious purpose alongside of being a functioning hospital. There are stained glass windows and religious corners devoted to prayer. Upon our arrival we were brought into the courtyard with all of the patients we would be seeing. When you think of those needing orthopedic care you don’t think of children and young teens but we had a large group filled with youth, adults, and elderly all seeking help. They were all dressed in their Sunday best, some in traditional Guatemalan garments, because it is a big day for them and they want to feel and look their best when they are with you. We prayed together and they graciously thanked all of us as a whole for the work they knew our team would be preforming in the week ahead. Many of were overcome with emotions. It is so heartwarming to know you are making a direct impact on these people and their lives. Some of these people have been severely injured in an accident, some by chance of injury providing for their family, and others have tried to seek treatment by a previous surgery here in Guatemala but the procedure has failed them. We are changing their livelihood and they are so grateful just to have the opportunity to be seen. Some patients arrived as early as 5am to be sure they got a spot in line! It is a humbling experience to be apart of.
In the U.S. when someone breaks a hip it is an immediate thing that they care for. It isn’t a thought whether or not they will take care of it, it just happens. In Guatemala some of these individuals live with broken hips, compromised knees, and excruciating pain for years. It isn’t uncommon for a patient to come in who has been suffering for 6 months, 2,3, or 10+ years. They have found ways to live with their pain and manage the problem. They create new ways of getting around and functioning day-to-day normalizing the issue because they cannot afford to travel for healthcare and it is not readily available to them in their village or city.
It is this reason that Faith In Practice was founded. These people seek the help they desperately need at a small fraction compared to the real dollars associated with these surgeries. It allows these people the opportunity to get back to work, to their families, and functioning with out the burden of pain. Unfortunately you see a lot of very sad scenarios. There is a lot of heartbreak and empathy for these patients knowing the hard journey they’ve had.
No matter the situation just know there is always a silver lining. Even amongst all of these patients waiting for hours and traveling great distances their spirits are high. Sometimes if you’re lucky you find the jokesters. Walking around with my camera many people don’t talk to me unless I engage them first. Mostly because strangers are intimidating and strangers with cameras are even MORE intimidating. I totally get it! I got very lucky a few times! I was walking down the hallway outside of the courtyard when I felt someone grab my arm. I turned and it was a kind eyed man asking me to take his picture. I was excited! His name was Rodolfo. So I snapped one of Rodolfo, his wife and another waiting patron and showed him the shot. Before I even saw the photo myself, he quickly asked me to take it again. Not understanding because my Spanish is limited I agreed, snapped, and showed him the next shot as I had done before. This time he smiled wide and said “SI, SI!” with his thumbs up. I looked down to see that he didn’t like the first photo because he wasn’t smiling. I guess some things are just universal, like wanting that perfect selfie shot! Rodolfo is a case where he has lived with hip issues, this week he will be having hip surgery. The team will perform his surgery on Monday and follow with him throughout the week to ensure that he is on track healing and mobile.
It was a very beautiful emotional day. The patients are all incredibly sweet always hugging and thanking us as we walk by or interact with them. It opened up all of our minds and gave us joy for the upcoming days.