Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Final Blog Honduras 2013

To read in date order, please start with Honduras 2013 First Blog towards the bottom of the page

For additional photos click here 
The rest of the week went smoothly. The student docs where getting more confident in their techniques’. Our goal, as directors is to see if they could at least treat a knee or shoulder alone and with confidence by the time they leave.  They will still continue to improve but this is a good start.  Of course, as with the first week, there is always an endless stream of patients to treat.  Every day we had to limit the sign in at about 55-60 patients. This still meant that we would treat patients until about 5 or 5:30.  We would start each day at 8am with a half an hour lecture on one of the joints, back or neck.  And later on that day, another half an hour (or more) of lecture either at lunch or at the end of the day.  These lectures are mostly given by the directors and other upper level instructors.

One last note: a few of the docs went to the hospital for a tour.  I had been a few times but did not go this time.  But the stories and what they saw were the same or even worse.  Now when one is scheduled for surgery, you are given a list of items you need to bring.  30 gauze pads, sutures, stitches, antibiotics and more.  If you cannot bring them, then no surgery. And the hospital cannot afford it as they are only given money by the government which has so little.

The last night in my town, Olanchito, we have a small party at the restaurant where we eat.  This is a local place that is well known. The restaurant is very rustic and eclectic and Erika has been serving us lunch and dinner for many years now.  She decorates the place up and makes us all wear different hats - see photos.  There was a large American flag hanging up as well as red, white and blue table cloth with small little American flags. She had a DJ there playing music so a fun time was had by all.  Everyone, including the translators and others that helped us were invited, ate dinner and danced for a few hours.  We all had a great time.

Thursday am we saw patients for about 2 1/2 hours and then cleaned up the clinic.  The following week a group of docs (through this foundation) comes in to treat veins so we do not have to tear down the clinic set up.  Then it is aback to LA Ceiba (the main town) where we meet the other two clinic teams.  We have a small party at this hotel around the pool.  We used to have a larger party one at a local club/restaurant but due to safety concerns (going back and forth at night) we keep it in the hotel.

After dinner we go to a small room and Dr Jeffery Patterson, the foundations director, says a few words. The next morning, there is a bus at 7am that takes us all to the airport in San Pedro Sula, about three hours away.  Instead of flying home, I go to spend two days with my mom.  I wanted to take the 8am flight, so I hired a car to drive me at 3:30am so I would not waste the whole day in the airport (the next flight to Miami is at 3:30pm).

My brother picked me up and I spent a lovely two days with my mom and brother.  Now it is back to LA (Sunday) and get ready for a busy week at my practice which has been essentially closed for two weeks).

If you have read this far, I want to think you for taking the time.  Again, as in the past, the emotional rewards are more than money can buy. What we are able to give the Honduran people during these two weeks is priceless.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Honduras 2013 Fourth Blog - An Emotional Day at the Clinic

Today was an emotional one for me.  One of my student docs got a patient that really hit me hard.  He was a 13 year old boy who had lost his leg when he was eight years old. He got hit by a car and lost his left leg above his knee (this means almost no chance of prosthesis since it would need to be an artificial knee too).  Anyhow, his right knee was now hurting.  And he was having difficulties using his crutches due to the right knee (the good one) pain.

He was brave during the whole procedure.  I performed it and my student doc assisted me.  This was done since speed was a factor because the young boy could only bend his knee for a short while without pain and due to his age, as he was very anxious and crying.   All in all, he did well with the procedure. We also referred them to the local physical therapy place in town that the foundation built. Hopefully they will go next week.

I gave his mother 100 Lempira, which is a good sum for them.  She thanked me profusely.  I had to borrow this from another doc as I had only a little local money.  I told her to buy him something nice.  As they were leaving one of the translators told me that the woman with him was not his mother but is grandmother.  We caught up with them right before the door and I asked her where his parents were.  She said the father was almost unknown as he left before his kid was born.  And when he lost his leg his mother (this women’s daughter), took off illegally to the US and wants nothing to do with him.  It was all I could do to hold back tears.  I gave her the rest of the local money I had in my pocket (about 50 Lempiras) and wished her well.  She gave me a big hug and thanked me for everything.

This is why I come to Honduras- making a difference in peoples’ lives; one person at a time.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Honduras 2013 Third Blog

Friday started off as a normal day. We went to the clinic to start seeing patients at 8am.  We finished at 10:30am so that we could go back to the hotel to pack up and leave to Roatan for the weekend. We have to go to LA Ceiba to fly over to Roatan, a small island off the coast. SO first it’s a three hour ride to LA Ceiba airport.  On the way there, it started to rain. Once there we waiting about 90 minutes before getting on the plane.  Then we just sat there.  This was in a small, propeller driven, 19 seater plane. There were no pilots on board- one could see this as it is an open cockpit. It was very hot and humid in the plane.  Fortunately they left the back door open, so I so stood by it to get some air.  It was raining so we were just hanging out on the plane.  I asked a ground crew member what was happening and he just pointed at the cloudy sky and shrugged his shoulders. Finally I ran back to the terminal and asked what was happening.  They said that the airport was closed and that we could all wait in the terminal.  Why they did not tell us that before, who knows.  Back in the terminal, we met up with the other two clinic members who were on the planes after ours. We waited almost three hours. At one point they brought out a jet (the other planes were propellers until and after 30mins said the plane was ready but that the airport- tower- was officially closed. SO it was back to the hotel and check into it and had dinner and hopefully go in the am
PS all this movement and going back to the hotel (where we do not have reservations) and getting dinner is not easy as we are a group of 75 people. And cancelling our reservations in Roatan. Plus we had a restaurant reserved for Roatan that the foundation has a dinner for everyone.  All that needed to be cancelled.

The next am (Saturday) the airport was still closed.  So after going out to the airport early, just in case it opened, we made a group decision to stay in La Ceiba and cancel our weekend get a way in Roatan. So no diving for me and a few others. C'est al vie.  La Ceiba has a mall, movie theater and a gym. While some went to the mall or a movie, I and several others went to the gym. We all then spent the rest of the day catching up on e-mails and conversations with the others.  Sunday we all returned to our respective clinics to start again on Monday.