February 20-25, 1999
submitted by Marie Agee
|Participants: Dr. Tim Hickerson, Dr. John Marshall, Dr. Rochelle Owens, Dr. Jared Shultz, Jimmy Anderson, Elaine Fischer, Marian Rowe, Audrey Williams, Marilyn Pittenger, Ron Shultz, Gary Tabor, and Marie Agee. Dr. Carolina Monroy, Promesa Clinic dentist, Allen Smith, and Marco also helped. Gene and Janice Luna and a young woman who was a friend of their daughter’s came to Monte Llano to assist as interpreters.
The team arrived on schedule, but Max Zamarano, who was to have been our team chaplain, did not come. Seems some personal problems interrupted his plans at the last minute. However, amazingly enough, all the luggage arrived on time!
Since it was a small group, we chose to use the van and pickup, rather than rent a bus. Allen arranged for a member of the Zone 18 congregation, Marco Antonio Diaz C., to come along as the driver of the van. After spending the night once again in the seminary, Allen and Marco picked us up on Sunday morning, and after having breakfast at McDonald’s, we went to church at Zone 18. Roberto preached that morning. As usual, the singing was wonderful!
When we came out of church, we discovered that the van had a flat tire. After some discussion, we decided we should get it fixed! They pulled the spare out of the back and discovered that it had a hole in the outside rubber. They put it on anyway and seemed to hold till we got to a repair shop. The tire was then repaired and we were on our way to Antigua.
After some discussion with Sergio the previous week about whether or not it was wise to driveto Chocola in the late afternoon and early evening, we made the decision to do so. He said that security on the highway seemed much better, and I did indeed observe many police cars cruising on it each time I was traveling. There were eleven of us in the van, and four in the pickup with Allen. At 7:45 p.m. we were on a dark isolated stretch of road about 10 minutes from the Chicacao turnoff when we had flat. Allen was ahead of us and didn’t know of our plight.
Marco got out to repair it, only to discover that there was only a piece of a jack, no lug wrench, and the spare was still the one with the hole in it. Nothing to do but pray and start flagging someone down to help. A guardian angel must have been watching over us because after a few minutes someone did stop, who seemed to be as nervous about us as we were of whomever might stop. He loaned us the necessary equipment to put the bad spare on the van. We thanked him profusely and got back on the road. Praise the Lord the tire held all the way to Chocola! When arrived to find that Allen and Sergio had left only a few minutes before to look for us. They finally returned an hour later and everything settled down. The next day we bought a jack and a lug wrench and had a new tube put in the tire. We watched it for 2 days, and it held, so we felt comfortable going back to the city on it. (Made a mental note to discuss vehicle maintenance!!)
When we arrived at Chocola, we learned that several of the hysterectomy patients were still there. Many were running fevers and all still had caths. The visiting doctors immediately began reading charts, conferring with Sergio, and looking through the medicine cabinet to see what antibiotics were on hand that might be more effective. They switched several, and by morning most of the fevers were gone or drastically reduced. On Monday the two nurses stayed behind to help tend to the patients.
We held clinic on Monday at Monte Llano, where we had a full slate of patients. The dentists again set up in the back yard. Jimmy Anderson, the pharmacist, was wonderful in running the pharmacy. He had learned that diabetes might be a problem so had brought with him the supplies necessary for testing. He then enlisted Ron Shultz, a diabetic who wears an insulin pump, to help with identifying potential diabetics. Of the people he tested, four of them proved to be diabetic.
Roberto showed up in the afternoon to tell me that the shipment was at Chocola. He also brought a note from nurse Elaine Fisher saying that a patient was having seizures. Dr. Tim Hickerson grabbed his bag and went back with me. I prayed all the way, thinking it was one of our patients.
When we arrived, we learned, however, that it was another walk-in (or rather "carry-in"). The patient was a 76-year-old woman who had recently had surgery in a hospital in Mazatenango who had begun having seizures the night before. Her family brought her to us for help. Dr. Hickerson ordered seizure medication for her. That evening Sergio said she really need to go to a Guate-malan hospital for X-rays but that the family had no money for that, transportation, and other related expenses. The team took up a collection $350 to cover expenses, and the next morning we had prayer in the courtyard with the family before they left with her. That evening they brought back the X-ray, showing clearly that the woman had tapeworms that had made their way to her brain. Sergio said that is not an uncommon occurrence. Sad, but not uncommon. There is treatment to stop the worms, but the damage the woman had already sustained is not reversible.
On Tuesday the team went to Xejuyup. I stayed behind to unload boxes. Early in the afternoon we had another walk-in. A man in his late 30’s or early 40’s walked in complaining of not feeling well at all. Veronica said she took his temperature and found it to be 102 degrees. I went to check on him. He seemed to have no symptoms except the fever, which he said he had been having for about 2 weeks. I asked him about malaria symptoms, and he said he didn’t have those. Also said he had no pain. I told him that the doctors would not be back for 3-4 hours but he was welcome to stay to see them. Veronica and I went to eat lunch. About an hour later, I went to check on him, and took his temperature. Immediately, it seemed, the mercury rose to 104 degrees! Alarmed, I grabbed some Tylenol and a cold 7-Up and gave them to him—then went back to work. A couple of hours later, Veronica came to tell me that he said he felt better…and then left. I know we do good work at the "CHOCOMO" (Chocola HMO)!, but I really find it hard to believe that those two Tylenol healed him!
On Tuesday night Veronica had a surprise party planned for the children, complete with a pinata. They were so excited, especially when the pinata broke!
On Wednesday morning we had clinic at Chocola. Many patients showed up, so all the medical and dental people stayed really busy. Marco preached and ministered to people in the courtyard. It’s really hard to quit when there are still so many people waiting, but we finally did about 2:30. Sergio and Miliano, a dentist health promoter, promised to see those remaining. I never did get the total number of patients we saw. Sergio will have that number, however. We drove back to the city and had dinner at the hotel.
A few more gyn patients were released, but all were much better. Sergio expected they would all be home in a few more days. Because some lived far away he was reluctant to release them.
During dinner I learned that Roberto had had a wreck in the HTI Toyota pickup he drives. He, his young son, and two other men were in the truck. I don’t know the details, but other than being banged up, all are fine. Praise God. The truck was totaled, however. It can and will be replaced by insurance. Another good clinic.