“Can I take you home with me?” An older lady said to me. (I wish I had her picture. She was beautiful.)
I searched her face, waiting for a giggle. It never came, but I did see a half smirk. “I don’t think my mom would like that very much,” I said.
“She can come too,” the woman said.
My mom walked over then, and my new abuelita (little grandma) started thanking my mom for all we were doing for her. She hadn’t even seen the doctor yet – not to mention that my mom and I had very little to do with the help she would receive.
I met my abuelita at a free clinic a visiting medical team put on at a school just outside of town. It was our second day in Honduras. Neither one of us were sure how we would help in the beginning, but we did our best to help. Amber and David translated for the doctors and medical students seeing patients, while mom and I helped compile some of the preliminary information – pulse, height, weight, etc.
At first mom just took pulses (which she hated and kept claiming she couldn’t do. I certainly was terrible), and I helped soothe children for the med students that didn’t speak Spanish. I asked one med student, “Do you have any candy? This would be a whole lot easier if I could bribe them.” (Yes, I’m scared for my future children too.)
Then as more patients came, mom and I began helping take more information.
Then as fewer patients came, one med student wanted to start seeing patients now that we had less preliminary work. She grabbed me to translate for her, and she called for our first patient – a bubbly 19-year-old teacher.
As we began asking for medical history, I soon realized this sweet girl wanted to tell me every ailment she had – migraines, pain in her shoulders due to stress (she worked with children – not too surprising), colon trouble, tingling in her leg and the list kept going. Some totally unrelated, some due to her dislike for water and thus refusal to drink much of it.
I soon realized my lack of body vocabulary in Spanish or some I had forgotten. I’m sure I gave a somewhat comical translation of “testing your muscle responses” and various other medical instructions.
Through all whole interaction, this sweet girl just kept smiling and laughing with me when I wasn’t sure how to tell her to “arch her back.”
We eventually discovered she had plenty of alignment issues that caused much of her chronic pain. The med student’s teacher stretched her neck and back. The sweet girl ended up being the only patient we saw. She was a beautiful way to end the day. We kissed goodbye, and she went back to taking care of the children in her care.
Mom and I did very little compared to the months/days of prep work, translating and treatment done by 30 to 35 other people helping. She and I both enjoying watching grateful faces as they left the clinic. I will probably never see my abuelita again, but she and our day at the clinic became a wonderful beginning to my time here.