Yesterday turned out to be a busy day for us. It rained during the night and was overcast in the morning, so we were undecided about whether to attempt the trip up the mountain to our clinic. After hearing from local people that the road was passable, we loaded the truck with our supplies and headed out, unsure as to what we would find on the way. There were several areas where the streams of water dug deep gullies in the road – a consequence of the lack of canalization when roads are built or improved. They look great in dry season, but become deep gullies filled with rocks and boulders after heavy rains. We encountered several of them on our way, but were able to get through them without undue difficulty. As we got closer to the clinic, our local friends called out enthusiastic greetings to us. They understood why we missed some clinic sessions due to the rain, but it was evident that they were glad to see us again!
When we pulled in the clinic driveway, there were 40 patients waiting for us, 2 of the more severely ill lying on the examination tables. We greeted them quickly, said a prayer and began to work. As is our custom, we saw the most severely ill patients first, especially the children with fevers. We try to diagnose them quickly so that we can give them medication to reduce the fever and start them on therapy as soon as possible. The other patients are very understanding of this – they know that we see the sickest first and when it’s their turn, they’re grateful. Over and over during the day we heard them say how much they appreciate our being there and how helpful it is to have medical care nearby. And, we heard from many of them that the reason they were there was because of positive feedback from neighbors or family members who had been to us and had successful treatment of their medical problems.
As we worked, it clouded up and began to rain. We held our breath, knowing that a heavy rain might leave us stranded up there for the evening, if the rivers overflowed their banks. But, we couldn’t walk out on the patients, in order to assure our own comfort. So, we kept working as the rain pounded on the roof, knowing that we had plenty of friends up there now who would give us a place to stay for the night, if needed. We were glad to be there as a group of people brought in a young man on a homemade stretcher. He had a high fever, probably from typhoid fever, and was too weak to walk. We gave him medication and watched him through the afternoon, making sure that he was better before we let him go home.
We finished up around 5pm, packed up our supplies and slipped and slid down the mountain and home. Fortunately, the streams didn’t overflow their banks and we made the trip without mishap, grateful that, once again, we were able to be of service to people truly in need. Now, we’ll wait for the next tropical storm to pass through our area! The radio has warned that it is due to pass through on Monday. We’ll keep you informed!