I Met My Son Today

Today was the very first day of clinic. I have to say, it was one of the best days of not only my year, but my life. I started my first rotation of the day teaching people how to brush their teeth. It was one of the best experiences ever. At first the station didn't seem like much. Just a table, some toothbrushes, paste, bubbles, and some coloring books. For a little bit I was just standing there alone. Then the second the bell rang and I was swarmed by students. I have never encountered so much life in such tiny beings in my life. First they all wanted toothbrushes, then coloring pages, and finally were the bubbles. Everyone wanted bubbles. The swarm of children continued to grow. Eventually, Dr. Stephanie came out to tell the kids what's what. This calmed them down a little, but after she left I had to re-corral them. Once they calmed down a little they were a blast to talk to. They wanted to know where I was from, what the clinic was, how to say bubbles in english, and of course how to get more bubbles. Of course the second they figured out the bubbles were for patients of the clinic everyone's wrist hurt or they had a sore throat. It was quite endearing. One of the kids I met was a 14 year old named Angel, or as everyone on the team has been calling him, my son. This kid was a straight mini me. Even some of the student's asked if I was his dad. He was one of the sweetest human beings that I've ever met. When I first talked to Angel he just wanted to know more about me and what the clinic was about. Then every time classes had a break he came to talk to me. He was such an intelligent and smart human being. Eventually, the second or third time he talked to me he asked if his mom could come to the clinic. I told him that his mom should be able to come to the clinic in the afternoon. He was happy to hear this he told me because his mom had diabetes. He was excited to know that she might be able to get some help. Along with Angel, the patients I was able to help teach how to brush their teeth were incredible. I have never seen people so greatful for something as simple as a toothbrush in my whole life. Their faces when you told them that the toothbrush was theirs to keep as they tried to put it down on the table were incredible. Each of them was so excited to have a toothbrush of their own. If I could capture the feeling of seeing the look on their faces in a jar and take it home with me I would. There is nothing like it. Eventually the second half of the day rolled around and I went to my second shift for the day in pharmacy. It is absolutely incredible the amount of medicine we were able to bring down. Not only that, but the fact that Tumi and Kelley were able to get it all so incredibly organized. I was so grateful to have Tumi there with me. She knew exactly what she was doing in the pharmacy. It was incredible to watch. I know it's a little weird, but I thought that the drug counter things were so fun. But I have to say my favorite part of pharmacy was talking to the patients. There were tons of young children, like eight and nine years old, there by themselves because they knew they needed help. It was absolutely insane to think about. You would NEVER see a nine year old strolling into the doctor's office by themselves, let alone with the level of maturity these kids had. Overall though, talking to the patients about how to take their medicine was absolutely humbling. These people were so happy for something as simple as Tylenol. In the US it is so easy to just hop in the car and drive to the store to buy some Tylenol. Here these people are just so grateful for something that will even make them feel the slightest bit better. After I would finish explaining to patients how to take their medicine, they would be so grateful taking my hand or even hugging me, so grateful for something I take for granted. It is truly eye opening. Toward the end of the day, my son, Angel, came to tell me his mom was here. He was so happy that she was here to get help. While she started through triage, he wanted to see if he could get some glasses. It turned out that his mother's glasses got stolen. He had given her his glasses so that she would be able to see. When I tell you this kid is literally one of the best humans I have ever met, I am not joking. This young man had so much love and care in him. It was something so truly beautiful to see. When his mom got to pharmacy, Dr. Eric had me tell her that her son was fantastic. She lit up when I told her this and was so grateful for everything, giving both Dr. Eric and I big hugs. Toward the end of clinic Angel told Katie and I to come dance, so of course we did. He took us over to a dancing lesson where we learned a super fun spanish dance with some of the teachers from the school. It was an absolute blast. Another amazing patient we met today was a woman we titled as Mama Coco. This woman looked exactly like Mama Coco from the movie. She was the cutest little old Mayan woman. Not only that but she carried around a machete. She could literally be superwoman. She went through all of the clinic, barely understanding a single thing we said because she only spoke a Mayan dialect. But even without understanding us she would smile and laugh the cutest little laugh. She was the last patient of the day so of course the whole team was following her around. When she finally went to pharmacy she was so happy for all the help that she had received that she gave everyone in the room a hug. This woman was so patient and endearing, it was incredible. She never got upset that she couldn't understand us or when we couldn't understand her. After she finished going through the whole clinic she told Katie, Kye, and I to follow her. So what do you do when the little old Mayan woman with a machete tells you to follow her? You follow her. We followed Mama Coco to the far end of the school where she showed us how she uses the machete to cut this certain grass for her cow to eat. All I have to say is that I highly doubt I will be that agile when I am 74. She was absolutely incredible. Overall, the first day at clinic was one of the most enlightening, powerful, and absolutely incredible experiences of my life. I already want to stay here for the rest of my life doing exactly what all of the amazing people who made this happen have set out to do. Just one day, and I am already looking to what I can do with my life from here on to make this experience part of my reality and the reality of the world around me.

Lorenzo Patti


  1. Thank you, Lorenzo. Stories like this give me joy.

  2. So grateful for people like you. This story is incredible


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