Friday, November 4, 2016

My quest to save one life at a time

When I went into missions I had this grand idea about what that would look like.  I envisioned transforming communities with clean water, deworming all the kids, vitamins to the malnourished, malaria meds to one and all, and everyone eating a good/balanced diet.  Yeah...that was through the eyes of a naive / new missionary.  Within a year of me being in Honduras I realized the futility of that.  So I changed my vision and changed my heart and looked past what I wanted to what was needed.  Yeah...I know....good plan, right?!

It was then that I realized - I'm NOT going to change the world.  I'm NOT going to change a community, but I CAN change one person at a time.  I can make a difference in ONE life - and that became my new goal - my new passion.  I would still serve everyone who came to my door...everyone who came to my clinic...and I would treat no one differently than another.

But it is frustrating.  I have to admit it!  When I see the same people coming for the same reasons, and if they could but make a few life changes, they could turn things around.  My LEAST favorite section in nursing school was Public Health. I admit it!  I didn't buy into it...but I was young, and didn't see the value for what it is.  But now I am pursuing a Masters Degree in Public Health, Population Medicine, and will have completed this in less than 6 months time after almost 4 years (a class at a time) of pursuing it.  And public health is my passion.  Look how far I've come :-)

So I teach.  I educate.  I inform.  And if someone chooses to implement these changes or not - at least they do it with the information I've given them, and they have made a conscious decision to do it or not.  But it still surprises me.  After 9 years on the mission field, and doing medical missions for that long, when someone does do what I tell them.  And it's a moment to rejoice!!!

Case in point.  One of the pastors we work with, a board member of the seminary where Mike and I teach, and the first clinic we put on here, came to me at the end of the clinic and asked to have his blood pressure taken.  He is 48 years old.  My age.  Let me put that in perspective.  The life expectancy in the U.S. is about 80 years old, in Honduras it's about 75, but here...where we live...,it is 58 years old.  That means in 10 years, he will most likely be dead.  We long to have a good/robust life - to see our children grow up and experience lives with our grandchildren.  For the majority of the people here, that is not even a reality.  I contribute it to genetics, diet, and just the stress of living.

So this sweet man came to me, and I took his blood pressure - and it was through the roof.  So I started my inquiry into his life.  His diet, his home life, etc. I came up with a plan, and the education started.  For about the next 30 minutes I gave him practical every-day advice on how to adjust his diet, reduce his stress, and started him on some base-line meds.  I told him he must return every week for me to follow-up with his blood pressure.  I told him this, knowing the probability of him returning was slim to none.  I've been here before.  A LOT of times.  I've had the SAME conversation over and over and over with so many people, I can't even count.  But it doesn't stop me.  I'll keep saying the same thing - and keep giving people the same information in the hopes that one day - maybe - someone will actually listen!

So...I waited.  And I got a knock at my door the following week.  It was the pastor.  Come to get his blood pressure checked.  And I took it -it was better...but still not great.  So we talked about his life - his diet - what things looked like.  And we poked and prodded until we came up with a slight revision in the plan.  And I told him to come back the following week.

So...I waited.  And I got a knock at my door the following week.  I sat him down, and we talked for a bit.  Then I took his blood pressure...and the delight that came across me I couldn't contain!  It was all but "normal."  He KNOWS I am not a heart doctor, nor a specialist of any kind - just a well educated nurse trying to make a difference.  But he has so few options, and I was his "best" hope.   We looked at each other -and the joy couldn't be contained.  I lifted my hand for a High-Five, because I couldn't help myself - then the joy spread to him.  He beamed from ear to ear, and we sat in silence, and yet shared this moment of least for now...This sweet man just had his 10th child, and I long for him to be able to experience life with them - to not suffer from the primary cause of death not associated with disease in this country.  To live long after the "normal life expectancy."   And that maybe, just maybe, I can help save a at a time...just one more...just one more!  Until my time here is done, I will continue in this pursuit.  And how I LONG to hear...

Well done, my good and faithful servant!

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