We loaded our supplies into the trucks and took off for the village of Los Llanos which was only an hour and a half drive but we had to double up on gravol because the ride was twice as bumpy. I think we spent more time off our seats than on them! We arrived at the school in Los Llanos which was tucked into the beautiful mountainside. We hold our clinics in different schools each day because they are the only buildings large enough to accommodate us. The quality of the buildings vary and we are lucky if there is running water and indoor toilets. Luckily, this school had both, but the multiple wasp nests did not make our job easy.
Today we were joined by a local Gynecologist Dr. Clara Guevera , who took care of the pregnant women while we were taking care of the children. It was so wonderful to have her expertise and also to see that the ultrasound machine that was donated on last years mission was being put to good use! We were even able to use it to help diagnose this 5 year old girl who had a lump in her neck. The ultrasound machine helped us to see that it was a brachial cyst that needed to be removed.
It really makes you realize how lucky we are in North America because we take something like an ultrasound machine for granted. It is expected that every pregnant women gets at least one ultrasound scan whereas in Honduras it is a luxury.
Dr. Guevera was telling us that she was not able to do C-sections for an entire week because the sterilizer machine in the hospital was broken. Without a sterilizer the surgeons cannot work with clean instruments which makes the risk of intra operative infections very high. Imagine how terrible it would feel not to be able to get a necessary surgery just because the hospital could not afford a new machine. In Canada the machine would be placed instantaneously. Therefore it would be an honour if we could fundraise enough money to buy a sterilizer and send it to them.
Today seems to have been slower in terms of patient volume, but we definitely saw our share of difficult patients. We also heard some very sad stories. For example 7 month old Brianny who was diagnosed at 2 months of age with microcephaly (an abnormally small head). Her mother is 16 years old and only receives support from her mother. She was quite worried and looking for a cure to Brianny's microcephaly. We were able to look via ultrasound to see the state of her brain. We discovered that she had a lot of fluid, and very little brain left. We had to explain to her that this is what caused her baby's poor vision and small head. We encouraged her to get blood tests to check for pre-natal infections that could have caused her microcephaly. Needless to say, the ultrasound machine which was donated last year came in quite useful today.
Another medication that was extremely useful was the Nyda (head lice medication) which was generously donated. We saw quite a few children with head lice and we were so glad to have the treatment to offer these children. We heard the heart breaking story of a two year old child named Maria. Maria was brought in by a 13 year old girl who was taking care of her because Maria's mother had abonded her. Maria was severly malnourished (she hadn't gained weight since she was three months old) and she had severe head lice. Luckily, we were able to treat her lice with Nyda, give her some Enfamil formula and give her antibiotics for an intestinal parasite infection which was preventing her from gaining weight.
After the morning clinic was finished we took a break for lunch which was cooked by a lady named Juana Guardada who lives in Los Llanos. The food was absolutely amazing and her generosity was so touching. We ate a delicious soup made with vegetables, potatoes and Yuca (a potato like food found in Honduras) as well as chicken and tortillas!
After we finished the clinic in the afternoon we packed up the pharmacy and all of our supplies and visited the mayor of Los Llanos at the city hall.
Tomorrow, we continue our adventures and will try to see as many children as we can while we are here. Partnerships with the local health workforce has been essential so far, and we hope that is continues. We are also so grateful to the people who have hosted us in their villages. Their hospitality and generosity has made our experience unforgettable.
Buenas Noche friends and family,
We will have more news quite soon. Please stay tuned for an update about the wonderful things our dental team has been doing here in Gracias.