A Hurricane of Emotions

It’s a bittersweet feeling sitting on the bus leaving Coban. It seems like 4 days of clinic is not nearly enough. Reflecting back on this week I have experienced a hurricane of emotions some I have never felt before. I will continue to process this experience for quite some time. I could talk about how in awe I am of our medical teams compassionate holistic patient care and strong leadership or my admiration for the vulnerability of my peers, however I would like to focus on two patient encounters that have had a profound impact on me. 
This first was on the second day of clinic in the morning while I was shadowing Dr Lauri. The day started out slow but, I was excited and eager to meet with patients. We were seeing patient after patient listening to their stories and it was as our third set of patients walked through the door that I instantly knew they were different from the other patients that we had been seeing. The first one to enter the room was this very small wrinkled man with a bright red baseball cap on a button up shirt and jeans, following him were two young brothers wearing muddy clothes torn shoes and stained face masks. We quickly learned that this man was in no way related to these two boys as he was even too old to be their grandparent. He told us that he had taken in the two boys because their parents abandoned them and their adult siblings could no longer care for them. I have seen poverty here in Coban like no where else before, but these patients you could tell were some of the poorest in this village. I cannot even describe in words how I felt hearing that even though this 76 year old man barely had enough to care for himself he still took in two young boys that had no relation to him what so ever. What touched me the most was when the man said as long as he had life he would do all in his power to care for these boys. You could tell that the brothers were loved and witnessing this kind of love is something I will always carry with me. Even though all we could do was give them a basic check up and a water filter this man and these two boys were so gracious. It hurts my heart there wasn’t more we could do for them, but even so this man hugged each of us in this room on his departure and thanked us over and over for what seemed like very little. Things that I view as a universal human right like healthcare and clean drinking water this family never had.
The last day of clinic I was with Dr. Deb in the PT room and even though her schedule was empty for the day it quickly filled up. Our first official patient was little Fernando an extremely intelligent boy who is nearly completely blind. As soon as he entered the room it seemed like he took control immediately taking stalk of everything, everyone, and where it all was in space. He was confident and more than anything he was a normal little boy, he was playing and using his imagination the entire time he was with us, regardless of not being able to see. This little boy was amazing to be around, but even more so was his mom. As soon as she walked in you could tell she was carrying lots of emotions with her. She began to cry as she told us her and her sons story, how desperate she was to do all she could for her baby as soon as she was told he was going to be blind. She explained that she knew many other women who’s children were blind or disabled who just completely gave up on them and how she had hope and continued to help him be independent and confident in himself. There wasn’t much from a medical stand point we could do for Fernando and his mom in the PT room. So what we did was listen and reassure his mom that she was doing a phenomenal job with Fernando and that he was miles further ahead of other children his age, let alone other blind children his age. I was in awe of this woman, she was such a loving and caring mother who was doing everything in her power to help her son regardless of the unimaginable obstacles. I will forever carry their story with me and aspire to advocate for the people in my life including my patients the way that this mom did for her son.
Although I am sad that our time in Coban has come to an end and it feels like there is so much more to be done, I am grateful for the time that we did have. Many of my patients thanked me while in the clinic, but I also thanked them and I wish I could find the words to express how truly thankful I am for them coming to us and sharing pieces of the stories. My time in the clinic has truly solidified my calling to nursing and while sitting on the bus today reflecting on all that took place I find myself extremely lucky and somewhat unworthy to be in a field where I have the privilege to be the one who patients tell their stories to.

Kara Rodeheaver 



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