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1 week in

sunny 85 °F

Hi everybody,

Well, we're at the one week mark of our 8-week rotation here at Hospital Loma de Luz. Things are going really well and we're enjoying our time here, both in the hospital and out. We've already seen some interesting and some sad cases.

Mariel saw a little 7 year old girl with a huge, hard mass in her abdomen that is most likely an advanced cancer. Her grandmother cares for this little girl, who is also severely developmentally delayed, and did not seem to grasp the severity of the little girl's disease. When I tried to gently explain to her that the diagnosis was serious and she might not even be a surgical candidate, though, the tears flowing from her eyes revealed that she probably knew more than she would let herself believe. Sadly, the girl was seen back in June and had an ultrasound that was suspicious for this sort of thing, but they didn't get the recommended CT scan until a week ago - most likely because of the huge expense of the scan. Who knows now if whatever she has would have been treatable back then. All I could do today was to offer her a surgical consult and the assurance that we will help her in whatever way we can, body and soul.

Also in our four days of work last week we collectively saw 3 cleft lip/palates, in kids aged 18 months to newborn. Discovering the cleft in the newborn was sad, but not as sad as the 18-month-old little boy who has never been able to be understood and will likely have permanent speech and possibly hearing problems. The hospital has limited support for these kids, but luckily there are a few ENT specialist teams who come down every year to do several cleft surgeries over a short amount of time.

For every sad story here, though, I think there are many more happy ones. We've been a part of a few births already, and they went very well. We've also been able to help make diagnoses for hospitalized patients that they have waited weeks in other hospitals to be cured of before coming here. The hospital is surprisingly well-stocked once you learn what they have, and everyone working here really cares about the patients. The care here is so good that the missionaries and their families come here, too, even for surgery (this just happened yesterday!). We've also seen people with grave diagnoses who finally get the care they need and deserve here.

Besides seeing a lot of varied pathology, we're getting better with our Spanish and getting used to working more autonomously. Writing prescriptions yourself is a lot different from just knowing what drug to use, it turns out! We're also learning a lot about how to practice medicine in a resource-poor setting and with very underserved patients (and affirming that we love it). We're also getting plenty of chances for suturing, abscess I&D, learning ultrasound technique, and lots more.

When we're outside of the hospital, we're learning too. We took a bike ride through several of the nearby villages and got a good sense of the way folks live around here. It looks a lot like rural Mali, somewhat surprisingly. Lots of outhouses without plumbing and outdoor kitchens with dogs and chickens running everywhere. It's been interesting to see what a missionary community looks like, too. They are somewhat isolated, since most of the houses are behind the guarded gate of the hospital drive, but also get out into the larger community a lot, too. There isn't a church here so most attend community churches in the different nearby villages and make a lot of connections with locals there. Besides that, there is a weekly Thursday night get-together for all the missionaries. We've been invited to lots of houses for dinner, coffee, ice cream, and gone on lots of outings with different people, too. They are a really fun group - we're loving how risk-embracing they are! (within reason, of course) :)

That's all for now. We'll keep you updated!

Mariel & Ben

Posted by vagabundos 12:29 Archived in Honduras

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