Sunday, January 11, 2015

Small Steps

Note: This entry was scheduled to be posted earlier in the week, but due to an unstable internet connection, was not able to be uploaded until today.

One major piece I have taken from the trip so far is the small steps. With small steps a great outcome can be reached.

We had a great journey yesterday to arrive at our destination.  Loading up the busses and making the trek from Guatemala City to Pantanatic. Unloading all of the medical supplies at the clinic. And finally the step of setting up the clinic and beginning to see our first patients. I was assigned to glasses yesterday and in the beginning it was just tedious work of unloading all the wonderfully donated glasses and through my own bias deciding if they were strong, medium, or weak prescriptions. A headache started to form from altering my vision as our first patient arrived. We worked with a woman with 20/160 vision.  She tried on countless different glasses until finally her face lit up. We managed to find glasses to get her to 20/40 vision. Although it was not the best possible outcome, or the most successful case, our little steps: collecting glasses, bringing them here, organizing them, and finally putting countless pairs onto this woman, resulted in a change that will significantly impact her daily life.

Today even further the importance of small steps jumped out at me, and taking our time with each step. In the morning while shadowing Richard, the internist, he showed us how important every question that is asked is. To better the patient there are important step-by-step processes when assessing a patient.  One overlooked step could lead to misdiagnosis or missing something completely. He showed us how taking time for every single patient is so important regardless of how many were in line, because one extra minute could make all the difference. We saw one woman with asthma with wheezing in her breath. Richard took us through the process of the examination, and in the end a bit more confusing script was decided on. Knowing there were a bit more complicated directions of use for her medication, after her script was filled we brought her back in to assure she understood the directions. Cooper showed her how to use her new Advair inhaler and Michelle, the translator, assured that she knew what to do. Just another one of the few examples of the importance of every step.

It is shocking to think that only a few months ago some of us on this trip didn’t know each other at all.  Now I can say that the past couple of days we becoming our own family. We started off by calling ourselves Team Guatemala or even better Squademala, thanks to Ali (:D), to transitioning to being called Team Xavier. Looking back to when Abbie and Stephanie congratulations us on becoming a part of this team after being in that interview room with sweaty palms, extreme nerves, and possible panic attacks (or at least it was like that for me). Back in October we walked into the first weekly meeting with some strangers in the room, and today we walked out of dinner a family. Many steps led us to this point: weekly meetings, raking leaves in the cold, running a nearly naked race on the only week with snow all semester, traveling, and experiences together, but after today it was evident at our group and subgroup reflections that we are comfortable with each other and willing to work with and for each other like a family does.

Small steps have brought us here, and with time and compassion small steps will get us where we need to be.

Megan Donaldson
Xavier University Class of 2017
Chemistry Major/ University Scholar

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