A Blessed Day

Our host mom is so knowledgeable about the people and history of Bolivia. She tells us stories of how the current president, Evo Morales, worked to incorporate indigenous people into Bolivia’s society; she shared with us their struggles and pain as they seek to be recognized in modern- day society. She shares with us how school systems function here and how businesses operate. But my favorite conversation with her is her viewpoint on the spiritual needs of La Paz and Bolivia in general. I was happy to find out that she, too, is a believer in Jesus Christ as well as Erica and myself. She offered to bring us along to a Bible study she attends and we were most excited to accept this wonderful invitation! More on that later…

Erica and I get up and get ready to make it to the hospital by 9 am. We eat breakfast and catch a ‘trufi’ that will get us to the hospital in about 15 minutes.

Typical breakfast: tea or coffee, bread with butter/ jelly

Typical breakfast: tea or coffee, bread with butter/ jelly

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Our transportation

Wednesday morning was grand rounds at the hospital. It’s a time where a clinical case is presented and afterwards doctors, residents, and medical students ask questions and discuss the topic at hand. The topic today was urinary tract infections.

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The auditorium would soon be filled with medical students and doctors

Afterwards, we met with Dr. Salete. She is the pediatrician we are working with this week, and we had clinic with her the rest of the morning. She is truly an amazing doctor and human being, so patient and kind is she. The first patient was a young boy who came in because he had several itchy areas on his scalp and body. When we walked into the room, there was another doctor present who was examining the boy, and she is a dermatologist. An interesting note: if there is a patient that requires a specialist for their chief complaint, Dr. Salete can just call them up and one miraculously appears for a consult very quickly. The dermatologist spoke with the mother of the boy and explained that he needs to be seen in a Derm clinic and Dr. Salete set that up for them.

The second patient we saw was a 17 month old baby with Down Syndrome. His mom brought him in for a cough he’s had, but the mother had no idea of the condition of her baby. When Dr. Salete asked her if her baby has ever been diagnosed with Down Syndrome, she said she didn’t know. In the short time this precious baby has been alive he’d already had a colostomy bag put in because he had an imperforate anus (there was no opening in the anal canal) and one undescended testicle. The amount of work-up that needed to be done for him was overwhelming: an ultrasound of the heart, blood work to check for TSH and T4 levels to check the functioning of his thyroid, a hearing and vision exam, making sure he’s up to date on his vaccines. Dr. Salete took her time to educate the mom on what Down Syndrome is and made sure the mom had all the appropriate information.

The third patient was a 15 year old boy who came in with his mom. A year ago, he fell and hurt his right knee and now there is a lump on the medial side. He denied pain, but it does cause him some discomfort. His mom also pointed out that he has a lump on the right clavicle that was not initiated by any kind of trauma. After some questioning, Dr. Salete called the orthopedist and bam! About a minute later he walks in and examines the boy. He had the patient lay supine (on his back) and performed various tests to check for any meniscal or ligament problems. Not too much later he had his diagnosis: osteochondroma. This is a benign tumor that occurs near the growth plates of long bones. Together with this tumor on his knee and the apparent growth on his right clavicle, the orthopedic doctor suggested ‘sindrome de Ollier’ which is characterized by predominantly unilateral, multiple cartilaginous tumors. He was then sent for an X-ray, but we have not seen the results of it yet.

After the orthopedic doctor left the room, Dr. Salete went to take care of something and Erica and I were left in the room with the patient and his mom. We talked about the different things he likes to do and his mom explained he only likes to play video games all day (League of Legends for any gamers out there). Through some more conversations, she told us she preaches the gospel in Brazil and we ended up talking about our similar faith in Christ. It was awesome to see that language was not a barrier in talking about the grace of God.

Once clinic was over, the three of us went to the cafeteria for some tea (tea is very popular here, so is Coca Cola). We chatted about the day and had other light conversation. We then met a cute little girl and her puppy.

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Me, Dr. Salete, Erica and our new little friend

Me, Dr. Salete, Erica and our new little friend

After we were done, Erica and I had our first Spanish class, much like our own personal tutor. I find that I understand Spanish better than I speak it so these sessions are greatly welcomed!

We then went to Bible study with our host mom. The people there were very warm and welcoming and they were happy to have us there. At the beginning of this trip I was praying that I would find fellowship with other believers and today God answered those prayers. What was even more interesting was the fact that the teacher of the Bible study was going to teach from Isaiah 43: 6 and 7 that states loosely ‘bring my sons and daughters from afar whom I created for my glory’. They were fascinated that we came from the US and ended up at their Bible study. Coincidence? I think not 🙂

Highlights: learning about Ollier’s syndrome; the wonderful conversation with the mom; having our first Spanish lesson; eating a wholesome dinner that cost a little over $3; Bible study!

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