LSU Medical Team 2

Monday, June 30, 2008

Hello Everyone from Guatemala,

You know it is funny; I was born and raised in a little hick town in the middle of a corn field in Indiana. Everyone I grew up with pretty much lives a normal life in white house with a picket fence, 2.5 kids and a dog. I have a missing Chromosome I guess because I have never lived like that and I now find myself living in a third world country doing and experience things I would only have read in books. Let me share in a few words (yea right Bryan) about my last two weeks.

I had two medical teams from LSU (Louisiana State University) come to help me out with medical clinics in the jungle. Both teams were awesome. Here are a few things we did last week.

We went to some really remote villages that I have never been to before for several reasons. One reason is that most of the 37 villages I have been giving medical care to for the past five years are now much healthier. I have been de-worming and giving vitamins and teaching hygiene to the point where they are actually healthy and don't need clinics like they used to. So now I can get too many of the other hundreds of villages that have never seen a doctor.

The other reason I am going into uncharted waters is that we have begun working closely with the First Lady's office. This is the new President's wife. She gets things done and it is nice for me to have someone like that in government on my side. They asked us to go to some villages that were so far away we had to go by boat and stay overnight.

áHere are some photos of the trip by water we had to endure. The lake is 45 miles longs and it took 4 hours using three boats to get to the village that we could get to and off load people and medical supplies. Five of the male students went with a great couple from Florida on their sail boat the CALUSA. This was where they slept after we got back from the medical trip into the jungle.

These five gals went on another sailboat called "Against the Wind" The Captain was a guy named Jim and he is like 70 and single and treated the girls like queens. He was so happy to have these five pretty med students on his boat. He is still telling all his buddies on the river about how these girls all fell in love with himů (Which actually they did) They said he was a wonderful host and treated them like they were his daughters. The gals slept on this boat and for them it was a hard day of work but a great experience.

The main boat that served as our base and eating facility in the mornings and dinner time was a big steel boat called "Steel Magnolia" The Capt and his wife, Roy and Jane treated us like family and they made the trip getting there and back a wonderful time for everyone.

In the middle of the week of work we usually take a day off and let the team have a break to see some of the beauty of Guatemala. So the picture at the right is actually the team getting their day off and going down the Rio Dulce River to the Caribbean to visit the town of Livingston.

But when we work, we work hard. We saw some sad cases that still rip my heart out of my chest. Most of the villages we went to were their first time and so some of the kids had lots of skin problems. One poor fellow has a tumor pushing his eye out of place. I asked him if he had ever seen a doctor and he said, "no." He has been like this for 12 years with headaches everyday of his life with no pain medicine. (I felt terrible thinking of how I whine when I have a little headache once in a while)

This little girl has no ears.

This little girl has skin problems.

This poor fellow has a tumor pushing his eye out of place.

But I have to tell you the ones that still bring me to tears are the little girls who are being abused. I knew the second I saw her face what she must be enduring, I want to hold them and protect them but I had 1200 more people to take care of this week.

The day the team took a day off and went down river, I was scheduled to meet with the Minister of Health in Guatemala City. Now folks this is like meeting with the Surgeon General of the USA. I could not just say, "sorry Minister I have a team." So I drove to Guatemala City and met with Simon King the man who donated the TeleMedical Equipment we use to communicate with the Doctors at the hospital here in Guatemala and in the States and even a great OB/Gyn Dr. Louis in Haiti. He is great!

We also met with Dr. Karyn, a doctor I work very closely with in Guatemala City. She is my Angel of Hope when I have someone who needs surgery or immediate life saving medical care in a real hospital. She is like my medical control person. We all met in the morning and they got in my vehicle to go to the main hospital to have our appointment with the Minister of Health. Literally at 10 min till 9:00 when we were to have our appt, we got a call telling us that we were to meet in the First Lady's office at the Presidential House.

We were in what is known as Zone 7 and we had to be in Zone 1 in 10 minutes. Guatemala City is the largest city in Central America and you can't believe how heavy the traffic is plus the people here drive like 3 year old retarded apes that are blind. (I am being nice here believe me.) So I flipped on my red emergency lights and siren and took off, code 3, lights and siren blaring like a NASCAR driver. My experience in driving emergency vehicles for the past 30 years is if you drive slow and use caution no one respects you and they don't move, but if you drive and try to hit people and cars, THEY MOVE OUT OF THE WAY!. Plus when in Rome....!

I had the CEO of this TelMed Company and Dr. Karyn in the back seat of my truck holding on for dear life and in between screams they would laugh hysterically. What normally would have taken a minimum of 30 mins took me just 8 minutes. I screeched up in front of the Presidential House and Dr. Karyn told the guards we were expected by the First Lady and move out of the way. They did! We got in just in time for the meeting.

You may notice I am the only one not dressed very nice because I don't even own a tie or suit. So I felt like a Hillbilly but they didn't seem to mind. They were all extremely nice to me and the Minister of Health (the guy next to me) was super. He said, "Bryan, thank you for all you have done for my people and I want to help you in any way I can." Folks this is like gold to have him behind me on building a hospital. He said he wants to bring the First Lady and fly down in a helicopter to visit my clinic and see what I do. Then the Director for the First Ladies office said, "Bryan, has our government ever thanked you?" I said, "Yes, this morning, I just received a free cup of coffee here in this conference room and I took advantage of the situation and used some government cream and sugar." He laughed and said, "Seriously we would like to present a medal to you and thank you officially for your work here over the past seven years." I said, "Thank you but that is not necessary just a gift certificate to Pizza Hut will be fine for me." So anyway the bottom line is, I had the honor of meeting some important people in government in Guatemala who want to support and help the work I am doing here. And I didn't even try to set this up, so I believe God is still orchestrating my steps.

After the meeting I drove 6 hours back to home and went out the next day back to work in the Jungle. I thought, man what a life. One day I am deep in the jungle in the mountains taking care of people who don't have food, water or electricity and have never seen a Dr. in their life. Within 24 hours I am sitting in the Presidential House talking to the heads of State and drinking free coffee. Then next morning back on the river so far back in the Jungle the villages are not even on maps. But ironically I found myself surrounded by corn fields carved out of the jungle and thought, oh how different from Muncie Indiana.

But now the teams are gone and it is back to work of seeing local patients and emergencies. Here my nurse and I are tag teaming this guy who ended up needed a lot of sutures. We have a patient who lives very far back up in the mountains and was shot in the back and is paralyzed from the waist down. He has a huge hole in his lower back and we really needed some expert advice on what to do for this situation.

So we made a TeleMed connection with Dr. Amanda Gosman, the surgeon that did the plastic surgery on Rodrigo. Through this video equipment we can show Dr. Gosman live video of what we have in front of us and she talked us through the procedure to what in the States would only be done in a hospital. In the US I would be put in prison for doing this and then sued, here I get a free cup of coffee. So I choose the free coffee. Speaking of coffee it is lunch time and I think we are having Pizza.

One other thing we did that was pretty cool was one of the local high schools had a class project. They had 10 students that needed to do some kind of community service so they asked if they could work along side me for a day and help do a mobile medical clinic. I set them up to work with the American Medical Students and they paired up and were fantastic together. It was great for the Guatemalans to get to be friends with the Americans and vise versa. The young man in the very front was a very sharp young Guatemalan student and he came up to me after the clinic and said, "I now know what I am called to do." I said, "What?" He said, "I want to become a physician and go into villages and help people like you do." Folks I was pretty tired and still had a long hard drive ahead of me but that meant more to me than you will know. If what we do can change lives and encourage or motivate young people to serve instead of be served, we can make a difference.

Thanks to the folks at LSU and see you all next year and remember when you become doctors, come back here and work in the hospital, OK? OK everybody, you all take care and please do something about the price of gas. The boaters tell me they can go to Venezuela and get diesel for 12 cents a gallon, but I guess the oil companies must really be hurting so let's keep them in our prayers huh?

God Bless,
In His Service,