Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wednesday- Last Full Day

Well, I'm still not feeling very good this morning. I got up and had breakfast, but I can't seem to shake this high fever. Everything just aches and my head throbs. Fortunately, I came fully vaccinated against things endemic here plus got my H1N1 vaccine a week before as well. So, I stayed back today where we're staying alone. I'm just sleeping, relaxing, and reflecting on my time here. I could look at this two ways: One, I could get really upset that I'm missing the last day with everyone in the clinic. I could start feeling left out and end the trip on a bad note. Or, two... I could use this last day off to really reflect on what I've learned here, what lessons and insight I want to bring home with me, and what fears and hopes I can leave behind. Afterall, Belize is a place that has my heart, so I know this will not be my last time here. Perhaps I can talk some of the students from this year to return with me.
After the group got back from their long day they filled me in on the details. Everyone went to the newly build San Ignacio hospital and helped to refill their supplies with the bags and bags of donated materials we had brought. The hospital was very grateful.
They also stopped by the Belize Marketing & Development Corporation. This organization helps get families the resources they need to be self sustaining and I believe may help individuals with starting businesses. Anyhow, today they were giving out a ton of rice which the group was able to assist with.
From there, everyone went to visit a cousin of our driver Alberto. Upon arriving at their house, it was evident that the family was struggling.
The children had bunk beds that they slept in, but there was no mattress, only flat steel bottoms. Our team decided that was just unacceptable. Everyone put in 5 dollars to contribute to the purchasing of 2 twin sized mattresses, and 4 sets of sheets so those children could rest well. The mother got teary eyed and said, "no one ever gave me a gift like this before." The children were very happy with their new beds as well.

The last clinic for the day was in Los Flores. The students say it was a good day for patient care. There were also quite a few patients that had to be taken to the hospital as well. Since the kids have returned to school this week, we get the joy of playing ball and running around with them outside on their breaks. It's really a treat for everyone... everyone except for Pete today. He was running to catch the frisbee and fell into a tree... a very sharp and prickly tree...
Suddenly, Pete went from nurse to patient. He was cut and poked from his arms down his side all the way to his legs. Luckily, we had plenty of gauze to fix him up. Now, he's half way dressed as a mummy and ready for next Halloween.

Upon returning back, we had a special dinner and then our cook played music for everyone to dance on the patio to. The highlight was when two kids who couldn't have been more than 8 or 9 got out and started doing Michael Jackson impressions. It was hilarious and they weren't half bad.
On an entirely different note, my heart hurts for the thousands of lives lost and suffering right now in Haiti from Tuesday's earthquake. I've ready conservative estimates at only 30,000 people dead all the way to estimates as high as 500,000. One life lost is too much as far as I'm concerned. It's such a tragedy to aflict a country already burdened with probably the greatest poverty level in the Western Hemisphere. I think about what we're doing here and imagine all those who have been working so hard to do the same in Haiti. All of the homes, shelters, schools, churches all just gone in the snap of a finger. I just pray that those who survived the quake will find the refuge and comfort they need as they begin to rebuild their lives and locate their family and friends. I pray they will find the strength and endurance they need to press forward, avoid illness, and find hope despite their loss.
Part of me wants so badly to just hop on a flight and head straight there to offer assistance (in fact already looked into tickets). If I wasn't sick right now, I probably would just go ahead and do it! The cool thing about being a healthcare worker is that you posess a renewable resource. It's the gift of knowledge that you don't just run out of. You can only feed a person for as long as the food is there, you can only build things as long as there are materials available, but the knowledge that can be applied in health care never runs out. You don't even have to save room in your luggage to pack it along. Truly, becoming a nurse has been the best thing I've ever done.
As I have been laying around here today relaxing and trying to get better, I walked to the resort across the street. I walked into the main lobby to inquire about the place and made a really neat connection. As it turns out, the owners are a couple who have been married for more than 40 years! The wife Lordes used to be a registered nurse. In fact, she worked with the United Nations and was part of the Public Health department here in Belize working to develop the community health outreach program. She helped write the manual for integrating preventative health teaching into the communities. Lordes has worked with our pharmacist Daisy Codd and our diabeties specialist Rose Anderson. It is amazing how you end up meeting just those you should and how there's often a much greater purpose in life than we first see. This woman was very interested our enthusiasm for our mision. You could tell she had a good heart as well. I discussed with her the possiblity of coordinating future outreach groups, utilizing their accomodations and insight. She said she might be willing to get out with us in the clinics as well. I love seeing the relationship with the people here grow and develop. Just yesterday, while bringing a patient to the hospital we connected with a young woman Maya Ken, who's specializing in linguistics. Her dad is the chief of staff at the hospital there, her mom and aunt are also doctors. She was willing to join us in the village today to assist with translating.

When I look at how much these clinics have evolved in just a year, it is amazing. For our second time at doing this, we have gone from ideas of a small blood pressure and blood glucose screening clinic to something much greater! Because of the relationships we have forged with the communities and professionals here, we are able to offer so much more. Now, patients can come and receive pelvic exams, pregnancy testing, on-site HIV testing, heart and lung assesments, ear nose and throat exams, vision screenings, and access to everything from cold medicine to antibiotics. We've even made connections with a local orphanage, the battered women's shelter, and the recovery center for addicts and alcoholics. It's such a beautiful thing that I feel so blessed to be a part of and am so eager to see how it will yet evolve. It is true that one person truly can make a difference! As I watch it all unfold before my eyes, I am humbled and grateful to see the knowledge I've gained through my nursing education at Saint Scholastica, the compassion I've learned through my faith, the enthusiasm that is kindled by my friendships, the serenity I have been blessed through my recovery, and the love I have been given by my family all come together to help me fulfill what I believe is God's purpose for me in life.

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At January 13, 2010 at 8:59 PM , Anonymous baumann said...

Jitterbug, you have the ability to change the world in a positive way. I am interested in also traveling down to Belize in the near future or somehow connect and learn along the same lines. I love your idea about knowledge exsisting as a renewable resource-what a beautiful concept! I feel so privlaged to know and love you!

hang in there xoxo-Baumann

At February 17, 2010 at 6:58 AM , Anonymous Brenda Davis said...

Julie - Kathy, Heather and myself spent this mornings first minutes reading your blog and are amazed and the sacrifice you are giving. We wish for you clean laundered clothes, and always to have enough food and water for you to share with another so your trip won't seem so lonely. Enough joy to keep your chin up from all the sad things you are seeing and living through. May God continue your many happy accidents til he brings you safe and well home. Brenda, Kathy & Heather


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