Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pop Wuj Clinic

Here I am, back from my first shift as a doctor in Guatemala!

I had a ton of fun working in the Pop Wuj Clinic. I got to do what I love -- medicine somewhere totally new. All the staff (ie- med student volunteers, a guatemalan doc and one nurse) were super friendly. I have to say, though, the gem of the experience yesterday was the patients.

These are people from a wide cross-section of guatemalan life. I had a 24 year old woman who hasn´t had a menstrual period in a year and is desperately trying to find out why however she can´t afford the neccessary lab tests.

An 11-year-old boy who looked about 8 was brought in by his school teacher for concern of malnutrition. The school was concerned and had been saving for 2 weeks to have enough money to pay the 20Q ($2.50) fee to be seen in the clinic. His family did not know the school was bringing him.

An affluent woman who refused to take the free meds from the clinic -- she said to keep them for those who need them. She would buy hers at the pharmacy if I would write down what she needed.

My favorite patient of the day was my last. At the end of the morning a single couple still sat in the waiting room -- an old woman in tradition al Mayan dress accompanied by a younger woman in a T-shirt and Jeans. It would be difficult to exemplify the changes Guatemala has undergone in just 1 generation better than these two did.

My patient was the old woman. She was weatherbeaten and deeply tanned with dry, leathery skin. Her face was beautiful -- wrinkled and wide open with bright, laughing eyes and a constant smile. As soon as I call her into the exam room, she smiles, hugs me and kisses my cheek. She is tiny -- barely 4´6" and was wearing the traditional layers upon layers of brightly colored mayan dress and her hair was in long pigtail brains with ribbons hanging down her back. She should have been on the cover of a National Geographic.

Despite the differences in their appearance, the woman and her daughter were the same. Smiley, laughing, open people with significant caring for each other and those around them. They were a pleasure to muddle though my spanish with.

Fortunately her complaints were simple -- I diagnosed her with arthritis and a corneal abrasion. Ibuprofen, eye drops and out the door. I asked her to return in 2 weeks for a check of her eye -- I look forward to seeing her again. Her memory is one of guatemala I will cherish always. My beautiful laughing mayan grandmother.

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