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Team Thompson couldn’t provide the medical support to rural Guatemalans without the dedicated doctors in our General Medicine department.  The stories they share with the rest of the team on the bus rides, over dinner, and during our daily meetings are inspirational, hopeful, and yet sometimes heartbreaking.

All the doctors on our team will tell you about dozens of patients who visit the clinic who have endured chronic aches and pains from hard manual labor. One story Dr. Scott shared today was about a 45 year-old man who works in agriculture.  He had been in two motor vehicle accidents within a few years.  In the first accident the man was thrown from a tuk tuk, a small motorcycle taxi seen all over Guatemala.  He received a skull fracture from the accident and now has a plate to stabilize his skull.  The second accident injured his knee fairly severely so that the knee gives out on him at times.  We were able to dispense medications from our clinic pharmacy to relieve his pain, but when Dr. Scott asked the patient if there was anything else he could do, he simply asked if we had a cane he could have.  Something as simple as a cane which we were able to provide for this man will make a difference in the quality of his life.  Dr. Scott was quick to add that the strongest of the patients he sees are often women.  Women who also endure very physical jobs, coupled with giving birth and raising children, and maintaining homes.

Dr. Hilary treated 24 year-old Maryori today.  She was the passenger on a motorcycle 2.5 years ago during which she sustained a broken left tibia and fibula.  She was given an external fixator; literally an external rod to stabilize her leg.  Her leg has never healed properly, and she can only walk with the use of crutches.  Dr. Hilary was able to refer her to one of the Faith in Practice Surgery clinics.  They will be able to do surgery and incorporate bone grafts so that Maryori’s tibia can heal correctly.  Her prognosis is good, and we expect that she will be able to walk on her leg after recovery from the surgery.  This will be a life-changing outcome for this young woman.

Yesterday, a 12 year-old girl came in to the clinic with her grandmother.  She was seen by Dr. Irina and mentioned to the doctor that she was having headaches for the last two or three months.  Her headaches started when she was taking care of her grandmother while her grandmother had COVID-19.  She has been using her cell phone for doing her homework and, because of COVID she’s also using her phone for her virtual school.  The heavy use of her cell phone has been giving her headaches. Irina was able to take the time to talk to this young patient about what she could do to relive the tension headaches from so much screen time.  During their conversation the girl told Dr. Irina that she was hoping to become a lawyer, and not just any lawyer, but a women’s rights lawyer.  Dr. Irina was not only able to help her medically, but gave her encouragement to pursue her dreams.  The interaction left a lasting impression on our Faith In Practice doctor!

It’s been a fantastic four days of interactions with local volunteers, Faith In Practice staff, patients, family members and the Team Thompson volunteers.  We will return home being enriched by the experience of our time in El Progreso.

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