One of the most gratifying aspects of our work here in Haiti is when we see positive results of our medical treatment. Each patient presents a challenge to the physician, both in terms of diagnosing their illness and in deciding the proper treatment for that illness or condition. Obviously, the more experience and knowledge a physician has, the better they’ll be at making a diagnosis. But, physicians also rely on laboratory tests and x-rays to help them determine the cause of an illness. In a country where there are few diagnostic tests available, diagnosis is an even greater challenge. So, when we “guess” correctly, there’s even greater joy here than when we’re in the US, with all the diagnostic resources at our disposal. We like to think of these positive results as evidence of God working out his miracles through us.
Several months ago, an elderly woman came to the clinic with a rash on her lips and upper chest. It had been there for months and had been getting worse. Her lower lip was swollen and had some open areas and the chest rash was red and sore. A visiting physician saw her initially and prescribed a steroid cream, and when she came back to see me a month later, there was very slight improvement in the appearance of the chest rash. Her lip, however, was still sore and swollen. I felt that she very likely had what is called a vasculitis, which is inflammation of the blood vessels and can occur in various parts of the body. There are many different types of vasculitis, but they are generally treated with steroids, such as prednisone, given by mouth. So, I decided to put her on prednisone for a month and see what would happen.
She came back to clinic last week, and I noticed her immediately as I spoke to the patients at the start of clinic. There she was, sitting on a bench listening, and I was pleased to see that her lip looked much improved. Later in the morning, when it was her turn for consultation, she was beaming. “I’m talking to people about this clinic, you know,” she said. “The medication you gave me has made me much better.” She had obvious improvement in the rash on her lip and on her chest, with much less inflammation and swelling and healing of the open, ulcerated areas. She was so pleased with the results of her treatment that she was telling everyone in her community about our clinic. In fact, she had even brought her husband that day. When I saw him next in consultation, I said to him, “What do you think of your wife now? Isn’t she more beautiful?” he lowered his head and shyly grinned. I could tell he was pleased with her appearance. Later, his wife told Cherlie “I used to be embarrassed to talk with people, so I always covered my mouth as I spoke. Now, I no longer feel ashamed and am able to hold my head up high.”
Positive results, small miracles!