Hola. It’s me again, Jeff.
A friend back home following along with our adventure via the ASB (Alternative Spring Blog) sent me an email today saying he was loving the posts and loving the pictures but he wanted to know what we were actually doing here.
Not literally because he knew that answer – but philosophically. What would make someone participate in service learning?
So before I tell you about our first clinic day in the village of San Joaquin, which was totally awesome by the by, I want to share two quotes by two men who are far greater than I.
The first comes from Gandhi, who said, “You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no results.”
And while I’d never mess with the Mahatma, I’m a sportsman so a baseball quote actually works better for me.
Jackie Robinson, the first black man to play professional baseball, said, “Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re escaping your life.”
So what are we doing here? We’re getting in the game, friends.
And today in the clinic, it felt like we were in the freaking World Series.
First thing Tuesday morning, after a breakfast of pancakes and de-icing fluid, we headed out in our purple scrubs to Nindiri District for clinic with Dr. Cerrato. But before we arrived in the village of San Joaquin we dropped five students (Aleshia, Aaren, Liz, Wilfrid and Lauren) at the regional health clinic in Los Altos as the intrepid troop was doing home visits with a nurse practitioner. (I am doing similar rounds tomorrow with four new students so I will post on that experience Wednesday night.)
As we watched our five friends roll out of the regional health clinic parking lot in the back of a pickup truck, the rest of us traveled 30 kilometres east of Los Altos to the village of San Joaquin.
And while today our building is a clinic, tomorrow it will be a brand new school, delayed opening by one week not due to us but because of some last minutes renovations that weren’t quite complete. (Over the next few days, our team will travel to different communities in the region to offer additional free, one-day medical clinics.)
Setting up shop literally within minutes, Carly and Sara were running a lean mean Shoppers Drug Mart for the locals of San Joaquin in one classroom while the rest of us were seated in another classroom waiting for our first patients of the day.
Split into three smaller groups, our role was to collect a medical history of the patient through a series of questions and check his or her vitals, including blood pressure, temperature and in some cases, urine samples. And while we were each assisted by a translator, many tried to ask our own questions in Spanish.
I tried. Once.
Instead of asking the kindest, gentlest 76-year old man (who was in because of his aching knees following surgery) how many years (años) old he was; I asked him how many anuses (anos) he had. Those ‘n’s with the squiggles, you see, are very important.
Thankfully, in this case, humour – along with some Ibuprofen – truly was the best medicine.
And while we weren’t filling out prescriptions, we certainly played a role in what was prescribed to each patient. After we completed a history and vitals – as a whole, our 11-person team completed 30 today – we called over Dr. Cerrato to share our differentials. He asked some tough questions and moms and dads out there following along, you should be very proud of your sons and daughters because they had not all, but MOST of the answers.
Dr. Cerrato is a wonderful man and any Canadian would consider him or herself lucky to have them for their family physician. As our host Louis noted, he is very patient with his patients. And his students too, evidently.
He is no Dr. House, but I don’t know that I have experienced a rush quite like the one I got today bouncing possible ailments off him with my colleagues Brynn, Janina and Ryan. All we were missing was the cane, the wipe board and the miserable personality.
In Nicaragua, and especially in this district, many locals would not receive heath care if not for programs like ours. Getting transportation to the regional health clinic for x-rays or the hospital for the physiotherapy costs too much and is not an option for many. Those treated by Dr. Cerrato today were treated for free and received their medications, again, at no cost.
Below, I’ll list the different groups from the day and what they saw in clinic but before I sign off, I want to return to the words of Ghandi.
“If you do nothing, there will be no results.”
Man, did we do something today. And it was awesome.
And to you Mr. Robinson, we certainly got in the game.
Team 1: Matt, Erin, Alex
child with thrush, urinary tract infections, child with knee injury, child with parasites, eye glasses, hypertension, gastritis, viral infection
Team 2: Cat, Sabrina, Yuri, Vivek
urinary tract infection, possible kidney stones, cold, gastritis, headaches, migraines, diarrhea caused by worms, burning eyes, back pain, vision problems
Team 3: Jeff, Janina, Brynn, Ryan
colitis, high blood pressure, fungal infection, urinary tract infections, vision problems, diabetes, fever, sore throats, replacement knee surgery
Field Team: Aaren, Lauren, Wilfrid, Aleshia, Liz
herpes, parasites, possible pregnancy, AIDS, osteoporosis, malnutrition, alcoholism, gastritis, developmental disability