Sunday, January 11, 2015


On Friday, we visited the ancient Iximche and learned a ton of the important numbers of the ancient Mayans. For our trip, our number is 171, at least to me. The number 171 has a few different important reasons to me. This past week we saw 171 patients in Patanatic. We were given the privilege to be allowed to see 94 children in pediatrics and 77 adults in 4 1/2 days. From personal experience, that’s a lot of people, and I can’t thank these people enough for what they’ve done for me. I got to see the expression of a person really seeing from the first time after finding the perfect pair of glasses. "Clara!" (Or clear in English) could be heard down the hall from glasses on many occasions. I got to learn on the final day how to dispel the suspicious glares from toddlers, or as Lauri calls them "a different species", by letting them listen to my heartbeat with my stethoscope. I felt the strong faith of the people of Guatemala during our times in the prayer room while I butchered the Spanish during a prayer here and there. From them, I heard true gratitude from the bottom of their hearts after Richard figured out their specific issues and tried to solve them or saying a prayer for them wishing them for better health. Also, I received tremendous hospitality not only in our hotels but in their own homes while we trudged along in the heat down and up the massive hills during the filtration checks. With that, I saw their strength as well. They walk up and down these steep inclines carrying bags, food, and even children all day while living with swarms of flies and insects that seemed unbearable to me for even 5 minutes. It's incredible. Their patience was so long lasting even while I tried to explain something in some broken Spanish and would allow us to listen to their hearts and lungs, check their eyes and ears, look down their throats, and feel their pulses under their legs or on their feet while they probably have places they need to be. These people have shaped and taught me so much without them even being aware of it. I'm so truly thankful.

My other reason for 171 being important on this trip is the fact that 17+1=18 which was the size of our team. Everyone knows by now but we had 12 pre-med/nursing students, a triage nurse, a pediatrician, an internist, a pharmacist, our animal-loving planner/organizer, and of course a rabbi. None of this would have been possible without these guys. These people truly helped me and taught me so much in this past week. When I couldn't find a pulse on a patient, Greg was willing to take over for me. Stephanie I showed me the trick to doing respiration rates. The doctors taught me how to hear heart murmurs and the crackling in the lungs of pneumonia. There is so much more to list that I could go on for a while, but the most important I think I learned was how much I want to continue down this path towards medical school and onwards. They’re so inspirational. I’ve gotten to see people light up from the work that we’ve all done, and I hope that I can continue to make as much of a difference in the lives of so many more people as we did this past week down the path I’ve chosen. It’s crazy how numbers whether being a large group of 171 patients or just 18 people can make such a lasting impression into someone’s life and their future.

Adam Purvis

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