Perspective or Privilege

One hour, the next town over, maybe two hours? These seem like fairly reasonable amounts of time to travel to see a doctor, and maybe trips that you have completed throughout your life, but would you travel eight hours? While this may seem outrageous to you, for Roberto and his sister (both patients at the clinic), this choice was a no-brainer. Roberto awoke in the early hours of the morning to travel by two separate buses to then complete the journey via walking the long, hilly hike to the city of Cob├ín and the clinic in La Ciudad de Esperanza. Once Roberto arrived, he received his checkup from Dr. Richard and was referred to Dr. Deb in physical therapy to find a plan to help improve his dexterity and mobility in his hands. Roberto has had severe arthritis in his hands and feet since he was first diagnosed at 16. In the last two years, Roberto has gained the ability to raise his hands above his head and has been determined to gain dexterity in his fingers, moving forward and working to manage his pain. While in physical therapy, we were able to scrounge up finger splints that will help extend and stretch the fingers that have lost mobility and provide strength and stability to the fingers that hyperextend. 

It was during this time that Roberto revealed he had traveled eight hours without breakfast or lunch just to receive care at the clinic and planned to make the journey back without dinner as he would arrive close to midnight. Upon learning this information, we took a hygiene kit (a small bag with soap, shampoo, deodorant, washcloth, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc.) and filled it full of his new, free medicine, physical therapy putty, and finger splint, as well as a sandwich, chips, juice, cookies, snacks, and water. To Roberto, the care he receives at the clinic once a year is worth the long journey. Each day as I continue to meet the resilient, persistent, and amazing individuals, like Roberto, who traveled to the clinic, I am reminded of each and every aspect of my life that may seem small and trivial but to others is life-changing. I am also beyond grateful to have this opportunity to provide both the medical assistance and the personal connection, compassion, and genuine friendships to each patient that walks, runs, crawls, or rolls through our doorstep. Each and every person I have had the blessing to meet will forever stay with me, as they have touched my heart and altered my perspective on what medicine can be for each individual and how caring for one person will affect their lives, alongside their family and community. And so, once more, I pose the question: How far are you willing to travel for medical care?


-Rylie Fairbank












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