"Abdominal pain, headache and blurry vision"

Our clinic this week is very hot and slightly cramped compared to our clinics last week but the backdrop of rice fields with tall palm trees and grazing cattle removes most of the added stress. We saw almost 400 patients at this location over the past 2 days and expect to see more tomorrow at the same place. Many patients present with many of the same problems, “abdominal pain, headaches and blurry vision,” and it’s almost so common I assume every patient has reported them as their top 3 problems to be addressed. But we have also seen patients presenting with a great variation in diseases and conditions, some of which we have been able to treat, such as minor infections, and some we have had to refer to local hospitals.

 All of the patients on this trip have impacted my life, but a couple patients over the past 2 days have touched me and have particularly influenced my life during this trip. Today a young girl presented with scaring from severe burns on her body from the waste up and the skin had healed so tightly that her mobility was limited in her neck, one arm and some fingers. It was heartbreaking to see such a patient that we were unable to do much for, as she will require surgery to fix the inappropriately healed skin. Hopefully operation smile will take her as a patient and give her back some of the normality of childhood like she should be enjoying. I also saw a small boy yesterday that was complaining of tooth pain and upon opening his mouth he revealed a mouth full of half-decayed teeth that our toothbrushes and toothpaste do no good for. I wanted so badly to help him but there was little we could do other than help him manage his pain.

 I have been on many medical mission trips before but I have spent most of my time in the pharmacy where I was not able to hear as many patients’ stories about why they are ailing. But this trip has been eye opening to the need that is present and the impact that even showing someone I care can have on these people. This trip has only furthered my desire to serve people in America and around the globe to help share what I know to help improve others lives’, even if it is only a little bit.

Ethan Gudger, pharmacy student

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