Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Las Roblas

Update from Honduras:

Today was clinic day 2, held in Las Roblas, where our construction team is building another school building. Our clinic was held in the two-room school that the Rotary built several years ago. All six medical providers were set up in one big room, with clusters of table and chairs around each of us, and our pharmacy (suitcases full of drugs) was set up on desks in the other room. I saw forty patients today in about five hours, mostly clusters of moms and kids. I did have one gentleman who told me he'd had two heart attacks. I'd been wondering who I was going to give our cholesterol medicine to, since we have no way to do blood tests, but he definitely qualified! Lots of "gripe," which they translate as flu but to me seems more like a cold or other viral upper respiratory infection. Lots of ringworm. No more icky lice and no huge wounds, though I did treat one skin infection AND got to drain a ganglion cyst, which was awesome.

We had some rotating interpreters, and I did a lot more on my own today and then would grab one of them if people started talking a lot, or talking fast—I found that I was usually able to get the basic questions across, and understand simple answers. I now know the words for rash ("erupcion") and for lungs ("pulmonas"). As long as I can stay in the present tense, everything is fine. I'm vaguely aware when I should be using the subjunctive, but usually don't quite manage it. People seem to understand anyway.

Our team finished early, just after 2:00, and we came back to the hotel. Some of the providers went to a nearby detox place to do some primary care, but I needed a little down time so did not join them. I did go for a walk with Cynthia (my attending) and one of the veteran Rotarians to the beautiful new huge grocery store, where we stocked up on plaintain chips (yum!!!), water, and I also discovered that the Skittles here have no gelatin, so now I have some Skittles too.

This evening a big chunk of our group—about 20 people—went to a steakhouse. It was quite fancy, and ironically, I was able to get some decent veggie-friendly food. It was lovely to eat a real salad (we'd been told by the Rotarians that it was safe to eat salad at this place because they wash things in purified water), and once I told them that I was vegetarian, they modified one of their platters for me. I ended up having beans, a fried egg, and avocado, but passed on the funny salty cheese that is everywhere here.

My little running club has taken off, they went without me this morning because our medical team was supposed to have a meeting at 6:30, which never really materialized. We're planning to run again tomorrow. It's a nice way to get to chat with people who are on the other teams (construction and water/sanitation) because we don't see them during the day.

Things are generally going well. After talking with some of the other people who had done this trip, I was concerned that I'd spend a lot of time bemoaning the lack of big-picture public health focus, but I've mostly tried to focus on the people we are really making a difference for (like heart attack guy--I convinced the pharmacy to give him 6 months of meds, til our next team comes down), or who we can reassure (several people have thought they've had cancer for various reasons and they almost certainly don't). Plus, it's just flat-out interesting to get to be in a part of the world where I've never been. Tomorrow is going to be even crazier—we are going to a village right by the town dump which is apparently much much poorer than any of the places we've been so far. Possibly also going to visit a nursing home.

This is really making me want to get my Spanish back into shape. Not sure how to work this into the rest of my life, though!

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