Friday, June 23, 2017

Suffering and Service

June 23, 2017


Every visit I see someone who has suffered from an injury or problem that touches my heart deeply more than others.  This visit's story is of a young man of 23 years old who was working in Teopisca (30 minutes from San Cris) that was electrocuted while at work.  The electricity went through his right hand and out both feet on the outer sides and blew off his left great toenail.

His feet are healed but his dominant right hand was severely damaged. He lost his right index/pointer finger and part of the electricity came out his wrist.  He went to the hospital and when the doctors tried to stop the bleeding they cut all his tendons in his wrist leaving his already damaged hand completely useless.  The wound created by the injury and the surgery has healed, albeit slowly, thanks to Don Sergio's care. However, his arm bone remains exposed which will lead to eventual osteomyelitis and it is possible the skin will close over it, but possibly not.  In the long run, the best thing to do may be amputation of his hand, which still has some life but it does not move, grasp or contract. The right hand is left in a semi-grip state.

Caution looking at the photo below.

This bright energetic young man's life is significantly altered. When I see suffering like this, I think this could be me or a loved one and it reminds me how privileged I am to be a healthcare servant to humanity and I could not ask for a better role model than Don Sergio and his volunteers Anita and Edith.


When choosing a career in healthcare and to work in underdeveloped areas of the world we need to explore the reasons we do this.  Is this to have the 'unique' experience to see conditions we normally don't see in the US?  To work in challenging conditions and finding ways to improvise and test our mettle? To help those already drowning in the overwhelming number of patients? To elevate our own status in others eyes? Or is it out of guilt for feeling you don't do enough in your daily life? Or guilt for having such a good life?

Regardless of any answer, when coming here our own personal gain needs be left at home, egos stripped, and desire to push our knowledge on those doing the daily work suppressed.  It is we who need to listen and learn in order to help and serve.  Those here have to accept us first and see our dedication is to help them. We need to respect them, use caution in implementing 'what we would do' and not take more of their already expended energy. Attitude and action speaks more clearly than any medical or clinical jargon and is better understood by all. Once a connection is made then slow implementation of what could benefit their treatment(s) will be accepted.  I am so grateful and privileged to have learned this from humanitarians I have known in my life time and to serve along side them.

Sergio directs and helps Anita debride slough from a burn injury.
Posted by Patricia Ferrer, PA-C

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