Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Holy Image

The day started with my 6:45 alarm clock ringing, I woke up totally unaware of what the next 12 hours would present.  Each day the expectations are high, but blurry meaning I know where I am going to be in the clinic and who I will be working with; however, the experiences that each patient brings is totally and completely unexpected.  My first full day in the clinic started in the glasses room.  The morning was packed with half a dozen patients strolling through the room each with different levels of strength and clarity for their eyes.  After a quick lunch break, the afternoon rolled through where I was placed with Dr. Richard, the internist, here I observed the doctor patient interaction as well as had the opportunity to ask questions during free moments.  After the patients received their check-ups, their prescription was then sent to the pharmacy.  After this, I took them into the prayer room where I offered to pray with the patient and their family.

This is just an overview of my day; however, if we only ever looked at the cold facts from day to day we wouldn't be able to pick out particular moments that inspired us or that will stay with us forever.  I had one moment in particular that will last, not only through my college career, but my life in general.  Just as I was really starting to feel comfortable in the glasses room, an older lady came in with a smile on her face and greetings for all.  We opened her folder to find that her vision was very impaired.  Cathy came in with her after taking her vision test in triage, to report that she could barely read the first two lines of images on the poster hanging from ten feet away.  So Rabbi Abie suggested that she step her half way to see what her vision would be, and as expected it was twice as could she could see to the four line with some hesitation.  With a quick word in English, Rabbi Abie asked what the goal would be for this patient, I replied with 20/50 which was the fifth line from the top.  He looked at me like I was crazy; I simply replied I'm hoping for a miracle.

After trying on only five pairs of glasses, her face immediately lite up while saying "claro" meaning clear and with confidence, still standing from five feet away, was able to read the pictures to the eighth line.  As she was reading the pictures without any hesitation, my eyes started to water, in that moment I was experiencing that holy image that I will treasure forever.  She then backed up to about seven feet away, still with a smile on her face was able to read the pictures to 20/40 which was the the sixth line from the top.  After a few more steps back, she was ten feet away from the poster and was able to read to the fifth line.  I can honestly say that I witnessed a miracle today.  Later that day, I saw the same woman with her grandchild and her brand new pair of glasses patiently waiting for Dr. Lauri.  From across the room, still smiling of course, she noticed that we made eye contact and so had I; I simply waved and she waved back.

It is amazing to think that one pair of glasses can change someone's quality of life.  Just like one personal interaction can change your perspective on life.  In the same way, one prescription can improve a patient's life.  It is incredible to imagine that even though there are twelve students, a triage nurse, two doctors, a pharmacist, and a rabbi; we all come together to form one team that has come to Guatemala in search of one goal, to help the people of Patanatic.

Shannon Carney 
Xavier University
Class of 2017
Biology Major

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