Wednesday, July 28, 2010

2010 Summer San Cristobal

All is well in San Cristóbal. I arrived late Tuesday and caught a shuttle up the 74 km cuota road to San Cristóbal. Everything is lush and richly green, the mountain-side farming is growing well and it seems as if time has stood still. Nothing has changed getting to this charming colonial mountain town.

It was raining heavily and the streets have no gutters so they become rivers and are very clean afterwards. After settling at my apartment, I took a taxi (two dollars) to Sergio's museo... there he was waiting for me. I had failed to call the day before confirming my arrival but he knew when to expect me.

The following morning he picked me up and my two large suitcases of supplies and we went on our usual patient rounds: typical venous ulcers, an older man recovering from a significant dog bite from three months prior, a 102-year-old man neurologically incapacitated with bed ulcers and an 80-year-old diabetic woman with grotesque deep heel ulcers. The type of care Sergio gives is adequate (by Mexican standards) but rudimentary compared to the care we receive in the US.

As the shuttle drove into San Cristóbal I saw a new hospital was complete: Hospital de las Culturas, but from what the locals tell me is they have no doctors to work there. People here complain about the inadequacy of health care. This was one of the issues brought up by the Zapatistas - a part of the history some venders try to capitalize on by selling rebellious images on T-shirt prints. Sixteen years later they have a hospital but no one to man it... maybe in el futuro. At the old hospital that is manned, the doctors send patients to Sergio for wound care since they have no resources.

After the morning rounds I walked around looking for a place to buy a small wash rag for showering.... after a good hour I gave up... it's easy to find someone to clean and repair your shoes but finding other things can be challenging.

While walking I observed mostly Mexican tourists, saw one gringo and few Europeans. The town is bustling with the usual indigenous people selling the same items by the thousands, the sound of the marimba in the back ground and of course a firecracker here an there.

We saw many patients at the museo and sadly there were three boys with significant leg burns, one of which was mostly healed, one at the half-way mark and the other with a long way to go. The latter, the saddest, was a boy who had to be under the age of six, as he still had all his deciduous teeth, (baby teeth - I saw all of them as he cried) with a deep circumferential burn (into the dermis - 2ndº) from his knee to his ankle. Sergio has no access to pain medication and does all wound care without it... even if he had it I'm not sure he'd use it. The mother held the boy and the sister held his foot keeping the child still as Sergio changed his bandage. The mother smiled at me as if to say, "I'm doing my job".... the sister held a serious look. After it was over, all was well with the child.... these people are resilient!

We finished around 7:00 pm, I stopped by my favorite Italian restaurant for la cena (dinner), and bought oatmeal and bananas on the way home. We'll hit it again at 9:30 am en la mañana.

A special THANK YOU to all at Tucson's WORLD CARE !! They donated 80 pounds of medical supplies..... and I"m guessing these supplies had a street value of over two thousand USD. Sergio, the Chiapanecas and I are so grateful to Lisa Hopper's long term and successful vision of collecting and distributing good and new unused medical supplies that would otherwise be discarded. These supplies are given to various medical missions and humanitarian relief programs around the world. Please click on the link above to learn more.

Wound photos to follow: