Tuesday, March 4, 2014

You Just Have to Experience It

Before leaving for Guatemala friends told me that they couldn't tell me much about the trip – that I just had to experience everything for myself. They were right. The first two days in the clinic were full of guessing and problem solving as we started learning the system, were struggling with Spanish, and felt overwhelmed with the joy of all we are learning. Although I felt confused and in the dark at first, it has been rewarding to gain confidence with filling prescriptions, working with Dr. Lauri and Richard during exams, and fitting people for eyeglasses (even with little to no Spanish). It is hard to write about all that has happened and how it has made me feel – especially because I haven’t had much time to journal or think with how busy we have been. I want to take advantage of every moment we have here.

The first day in the clinic I loved getting to hold a 3 month old baby and making him laugh while Dr. Richard treated his mother. Yesterday I got to learn about filling prescriptions with Nurse Cathy and Stephanie. I really enjoyed counting pills and filling the scripts. That afternoon I shadowed Dr. Lauri with Brittany. We got to hear a heart murmur and see a tympanic membrane that was scarred from multiple earn infections. Yesterday I was able to help a woman with leg deformities be fit for canes to help her walk. It was really awesome to see all that I am learning as an Occupational Therapy student come into good use, especially because earlier in the year I was questioning my decision to be an occupational therapy major. Much of my questioning has been due to my frustration that as a senior, I have hardly had much contact with patients and not a lot of hands on experience. I have been reminded of this frustration on the trip because a lot of the younger students who are studying nursing have a lot of knowledge and experience. However, I have also been reminded of how much I want to learn and how important it is to me to be a health care provider. It has given me new motivation for when we get back to Cincinnati, even if I am frustrated with not having much hands on experience. I also have this motivation because I can easily see how what we are doing in the clinic relates to occupational therapy. We are restoring bits of health to people, so that they may more meaningfully participate in the things that they need to, have to and want to do. What we are doing does not and cannot change the state of poverty or the entire health care system of Guatemala; however, I see the value in helping just a few lead more fulfilling and meaningful lives.

What happened this morning in eyeglasses was a perfect example of just that. We had a few older women come in that had very bad eyesight. The first woman couldn't read our chart standing just a foot away from it. Our team worked hard to get her a pair of glasses so that she could see almost every line on the chart from 5 feet away. I honestly didn't think it was possible. It was a very special and powerful moment for all of us in the room and I am so glad that I got to share it with Rabi Abbie and Kathy. Like my friends told me, you just have to experience it.

I am writing this blog from the clinic this afternoon. I have to say that the time has flown by. There is so much to take it. We have amazing doctors and nurses who want to provide the best care to patients while teaching us as much as they can. They give us insights that wouldn't be learned in the classroom, making the week an invaluable experience. The clinic has also allowed us to learn more about the people of Guatemala, just as living in the area for the week has. The street that our hotel is on is full of life and culture for us to learn from. I have loved walking up and down the street with other students, discussing what we see and learning about each other. This may be the part of the trip that I have treasured the most – personal relationship and connection with the team, the patients, and the people in the community – even if for just a second or a few minutes. I can’t wait to see where the journey will lead us in the next few days. I hope to take some more time to reflect on the meaning of all that has happened and how that relates to my faith and life in Cincinnati, as there is no way that this trip could become an isolated event.

Thank you to all of you that are reading and that have supported us along the way. I wish each and every one of you could be here to experience it yourself. Thank you also to the team for being a part of the journey – you all inspire me to learn more and be more.

Rachel Snodgrass
March 4, 2014

No comments: