Thursday, March 8, 2012

Journals From Belize: 2-7-12

Journals From Belize:
2-7-12 evening

There are some qualities of human nature that prove universal.  This is my thought as I watch a young boy about the age of 10 run concernedly in the direction of the school.  The buzz of children playing and fooling about in the road has long since quieted.  They are mostly, I imagine, already seated attentively in proper fashion, so to receive their first lesson of the day.  The boy hurrying down the gravel road is dressed in traditional uniform.   His olive colored pants are dark and rolled at the ankle.  His shirt is short sleeved and a color or blue that mimics the neighboring Caribbean.  The shirt too is collared with a few buttons at the chest and multicolored bead work that forms a cuff at the sleeve. 

in the library before recess
The children here seem to bounce and smile like no other I have seen.  The playfulness too seems universal, yet still I have noticed since coming to Aguacate a subtle difference in the disposition of the youths here.   I have noticed few if any actual toys.  Never the less, playfulness is in abundance.  Children come and go about the village with a freeness unseen back in the states.  Few wear shoes, but not from an inability to acquire them.  It is almost as if they would inhibit movement distracting from the spontaneity of youthfulness.  Laughter is one sound that out competes the seemingly constant caw of the chickens.

sweet Miss Emily

Brendan and Byron learning to play "Angry Birds"

my host Ronaldo
Today has been a measurably good day.  I have been staying surprisingly busy and have shared a part in treating several patients with varying ailments.  A doctor that we met earlier in our trip exclaimed that he could travel to any village in the developing world and consistently predict the first dozen complaints to walk through the door.  Diseases of poverty he explained are patterned and predicated by sub standard living conditions.  Regardless, I am finding our experiences both medically and socially enlightening.

When someone dials 911 in the states they simultaneously hand you the keys to their front door.  When you open that door their whole world becomes visible and you are entrusted with the discoveries you make despite not ever knowing them previously.  My experiences traveling about the village with Hilaria remind of this.  As the main Community Health Worker in Aguacte she too has been lent a lot of trust.  Working from home as well as from the community health post at at the center of the village, her presence here reminds me of that of an old town Doctor.  She diligently makes rounds frequently visiting the huts of the ill, young and old alike.

Hilaria at her home health post

proud to see the SOLO logo in Belize!

Yesterday we joined to visit an elderly woman who we found resting in her hammock as she watched over a boiling pot of Caldo.  She had been complaining of a strange rash that had appeared on her side well over a week ago.  She lifted her shirt without hesitation to reveal an oval shaped collection of hard, greyish blisters.  Beneath the blisters was an area of tissue that was red, firm, and hot to the touch.  Further examination showed an elevated heart rate, low grade fever, and adventitious breath sounds to the right lobes.  This woman was clearly suffering from an infection of some type and was in dire need of antibiotics as well as further medical evaluation.

Her determination to remain at home to complete her tasks was as admirable as it was concerning.  The elderly in the village particularly, but not exclusively, adhere to an unrelenting work ethic that is difficult to interrupt even in times that warrant pause.  The elderly woman and her husband were home alone with responsibilities beyond their capabilities, a finding not uncommon in the villages.
Miss Lorna, happy as always to help out
We also took time to visit at home a young boy who days ago had lost a brief scuffle with an unsheathed machete left laying in the tall grass at his family’s farm.  This shy fellow had just returned from the hospital where he received over a dozen stitches to properly close the wound.   
walking to the outskirts of town with my crew of nurses

sutured leg after machete laceration

We found him recovering quietly with a book inside a hut at the far end of the village.  Theresa, Hilaria, and myself playfully inspected the wound changing out the dressings while making sure to keep the mood relaxed and supportive.  It was a unique opportunity for the three of us to work together as a health care team.  Theresa finished the visit by performing a general medical examination allowing a few of the other children to make their own discoveries using her stethoscope. 
Theresa completes a home visit
In the end, it was decided that Theresa would return each day to inspect the wound and eventually remove the sutures.  I would first build her a medical kit as she had no supplies of her own to use.  My hope was that doing so would generate some long lost motivation.  Theresa had been attending to healthcare matters in the village since the early eighties and had recently been struggling to find interest in the work.  My hope is that a touch up on her skills along with additional equipment and support would renew he interest in the job.  There are some things that can not be forced no matter the purity of intent nor method of pursuit.   The invitation was delivered, and we would simply have to wait to know if it would be accepted.

Theresa at emergency childbirth training

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