This morning we again began our day at 5:30 AM. We held our devotional in the open-air hut in the center of our hotel grounds. Coffee and tea were provided to boost the group’s energy for the first official day.
We then had a lovely breakfast at the hotel and piled onto the bus, everyone looking great in their freshly picked out scrubs. We departed promptly at 6:45 AM, and headed on our way. We had one stop to pick up three translators from their village.
At 8 AM we arrived at the clinic to a line of about 300 patients. There were three school buses and several personal automobiles that helped patients arrive. Many of the patients held little cards of different colors that indicated clinics that they would head directly to. For those without cards, their name is written on a yellow Faith In Practice form, and each person is given a dose of anti-parasite medicine before heading through triage to figure out the appropriate place to receive treatment. After we set down our belongings we headed out to the gate to start the morning off with a prayer. Pastor Andy spoke a few words, and Dr. Phil Johnson translated for him. Pastor Andy remarked that interacting with the patients who spoke several different indigenous dialects reminded him of the Pentecost – that even if people do not speak the same language, the universal language of love can be shared and understood by all.
We then walked through the line greeting patients with one of the security guards, Fautso. He shared with us that after a difficult couple years, Faith In Practice had restored his sense of purpose and the people have become his family. He has been with us for four years. He thanked us profusely for helping his country and his people. He is always willing to lend a hand, or chat and we are very thankful to have him.
The line for triage began as a trickle, and soon turned into a flood. Felipe organized the patients by collecting their diagnoses sheets and then calling their names in the order in which they had been received. We all worked as a team to guide people to the correct locations, and the system flowed smoothly.
In the wheelchair clinic, I had the opportunity to chat with a gentleman who was receiving a wheelchair. Adolfo was kind enough to share his story with us. When he was 21, he worked in a tienda or a mini market, and an accident occurred that ended with him being shot twice, once in the spine and once in the hip. They took him to the hospital and he was unable to feel his legs. However, he could still feel the bullets that were inside of him. He went to a church with a Nicaraguan priest who prayed for him and after the prayers he no longer felt the bullets. When he was a teenager he used to drink, smoke, and misbehave. He said his father was a minister and asked him to come to church with him. Adolfo would agree and even change into his church clothes, however he would find a way to sneak off. After the accident, he asked God to forgive him for his sins. He is unable to work because of the accident; however, he tries to find jobs around town that he is able to do. The church helps to support his family. He is married and has one four year old son. His wife was one month pregnant when he was shot. A question that we asked him was “What would you be doing now if you were not in a wheelchair?” His response to this was that it is difficult for him to imagine what life would be like had he not been injured because it caused him to better himself in terms of his habits and his devotion to God. He said had it not occurred, he might still be drinking and misbehaving. However, at the same time it is difficult for him to imagine the rest of his life in a wheelchair as he is only 24 now. He had a borrowed wheelchair when he arrived and that had a hard bar in the back. The wheels were battered and the chair in its entirety was not in good shape. This caused him to slouch so the bar would not press into his back, however this in turn caused many pains in his back and neck. The new wheelchair is much more comfortable for him and is his to keep. He is very grateful for the help of Faith In Practice in providing him with this wheelchair.
In the general medicine clinic, Dr. Chris Johnson utilized the wonders of modern medicine on a patient that complained of an irregular heartbeat. She explained that often after she walked a bit she would pass out. To experience this, they took a short walk around the clinic and after walking, her heart was fast and irregular. Dr. Johnson decided that rather than using the slow, cumbersome EKG machine, he could use his apple watch. He quickly placed it on the patient’s wrist and in approximately 45 seconds had the necessary results. He also had his own personal data history that served as a “normal” base heartrate to juxtapose with the patient’s irregular heartrate. He advised the patient that when she notices this feeling, to sit or lay down so as to prevent passing out and injuring herself. She will go on to referrals for further diagnoses.
These are only few of the many incredible, life-changing stories that took place today and will continue to occur throughout the week. Tomorrow’s blog will contain the patient data from today as well as more personal stories from patients and providers.
We are so grateful for the first day and cannot wait for what the rest of the week brings!