“I lie awake at night, and I can’t sleep… I’m afraid that if I close my eyes, I won’t wake up,” the gentle Egyptian man I met moments before, a two-time survivor of cancer, shared with me. “I’m worried I haven’t lived well,” he continued. “You know, I haven’t done good things, like you.”
“Namaste,” the young Bhutanese woman said opening the door of her and her family’s apartment for the medical assistant (MA) and me. As she and her in-laws warmly welcomed us into their living room/dining room space, another young woman and a little girl emerged from the bedroom. “How many of you are living here?” the MA asked the only gentleman in the room through the interpreter we had on the phone. “There are five of us,” he answered.
“I don’t need this test,” the pharmacist-trained, El Salvadorian gentleman told my preceptor and me, quickly dismissing our suggestion that his persistent malaise, fatigue, and chills could be secondary to an underlying thyroid condition. “I have no problems with my thyroid,” he followed, in an effort to reinforce his point. When we proposed a CBC to check for anemia, he similarly protested, pulling down his right eye-lid to remind us that he had no Conjunctival Pallor.
What must it be like to leave everything and begin again in a foreign land? This was one of the questions I kept asking as I observed the refugee intake day at the Siloam Family Health Center this past week. This is a procedure that every refugee in Nashville goes through when they arrive to the US.
When I pulled up the patient’s chart, the first thing that caught my eye was the “1989” at the end of her date of birth. “She’s my age,” I thought to myself. Ms. A was presenting to the clinic with a chief complaint of “flu-like” symptoms.
Mr. B is a middle-aged man who was following up with us after an acute visit about three weeks ago for chest pain, which, at the time, was thought to most likely be due to acid-reflux. It was clear as I spoke with him that afternoon that while his reflux-related pain had subsided some with the addition of a medication, he still wasn’t feeling like himself.
As a surgical resident in a tertiary care center, I have seen a lot of patients in consultation for surgical evaluation. A typical consultation request includes age, gender and diagnosis of the patient. When I decided to pursue surgical training, I specifically acknowledged that I would forego much of the diagnostic process as typical referrals come to us diagnosis already known.
I guess you might say that everything is unexpected for me on this trip. This is my first time on the continent of Africa and so many things have been a surprise. For example, here in Kenya, almost everyone speaks English and there are zebras by the side of the road grazing on grass just like there are horses in the US.
Hope Through Healing Hands was delighted to be the title sponsor for the inaugural Why Christian? conference led by Rachel Held Evans and Nadia Bolz-Weber. This was a gathering of storytellers who talked about why they continue to follow Jesus “with all the atrocities past and present committed in God’s name, amidst all the hostile divisions ripping apart Christ’s church, in spite of all our own doubts and frustrations and fears about faith.”
On November 9, 2015, in Nashville, TN, Belmont University students gathered to hear panelists discuss several issues surrounding the importance of healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies for mothers worldwide. Additionally, the call to action of advocacy was proposed for the students to get involved in the mission of The Mother and Child Project.