I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Picasso
by Tina Romenesko
As we wandered through the soggy streets toward the clinic, we were all a little sad that this is our last day. It has been challenging, and fulfilling, and wet, and long, and filled with laughter, tears, good news, bad news, and lots of hard work. Each of us has been challenged to do, to see, to be, something that stretches our edges. In service work, expecting the unexpected is the norm. We only saw 30 patients today (instead of 45-50) because we needed to clean all the speculums and pack up the PINCC suitcases with equipment and supplies. The Nicaraguan trainees also took their written tests and all agree that they have learned A LOT in the past five days.
Today there was a cancer diagnosis, which is always a staggering reality. This woman has four sons - the youngest is six - and she will have to go to Managua, as soon as possible, for more diagnostic tests and treatment. She doesn't have the money for the trip and hopes she can find help affording treatment. Many women die because they can't afford treatment. Joyce and I were called in to bring her to a quiet space to process the bad news. Joyce is our PINCC team grandmother that has spent the past two weeks walking through puddles and up and down cobblestones with her two walking sticks. Despite having MS, Joyce has ridden on boats, walked the beach, and held many hands during our time in Pearl Lagoon. A fierce warrior with the biggest heart I have ever known, she offered sage advice. "Take it one step at a time. Talk to your family - and remember its okay to ask for help." I held this brave woman's hand and told her about my son that is a 21 year cancer survivor, diagnosed at age 6. We drank apple juice, and she talked again with Dr. Sharry to ask a few more questions before taking the bus back home.
Around 2:30, Carol brought us all together, instructing us to blow up two balloons and tie them around our ankles. Really? Some of us were better at inflation and others at tying, and eventually we were all set for her ice breaker. Amidst squeals and laughter, we tried to pop each others balloons, until there were only two left standing: Jaya and the trainee, Inez. It was a great way to release the stress of the week and come together as a group again. Each of member of the PINCC group shared what they had learned/loved on the trip and about Nicaragua. Sally translated for those that didn't speak Spanish and the consensus was that it was a very valuable week of learning and listening. Many of the Nicaraguan trainees wanted to share also - expressing their gratitude and looking forward to our return in November. PINCC will return to Pearl Lagoon every six months to check on the trainees and continue educating them in these life saving techniques. Each visit they are progressively moved forward until they are able to perform all of the available treatments independently. This process usually takes about 3 years and there are always new trainees with each visit, so everyone progresses at their own pace.
The rain continued to fall as we headed our separate ways, filled with appreciation, and wiser for having experienced this amazing week together.