29 October 2009
I was most interested to see Glenda, David’s mother, soon after I arrived. She was her usual cheerful and composed self, and I was assured by others who knew her well that she wasn’t putting anything on. And so I started back into my work in the communities. The first few days are, as typically, split between the tiny health center and community clinics. Working with Maria and Roberto, most of the patients this time have the typical plethora of pneumonia, intestinal parasites and body aches. Those who are identified with chronic medical problems are started on medicine and will be followed when I leave by the two nurses according to protocols that I have written and reviewed with them. I see several of such patients that I saw on my last visit, all three of the previously untreated epilepsy patients are now almost seizure free. Unfortunately only half of the adult diabetics are doing well, the rest struggle with medication and diet compliance….universally nothing new here.
On the drive to the community of Pamuc this morning, the warm clear weather gives clarity to the jagged volcanic mountains that I have not seen here before — quite remarkable considering that typically it is socked in with month’s long fog and rain this time of year (the locals call it “chipi-chipi”). Amid the bright green treed areas are well demarcated quadrants of corn being harvested that go most of the way up the incredibly steep slopes. (Local joke:” Did you hear about the Guatemalan farmer who fell off his field?”). As we drive by Abeleno’s house, Roberto tells me that the old man made a full recovery and has been harvesting his corn. By the time we arrive at the community clinic site, the day’s patients are waiting to be seen in an orderly fashion, thanks in part to Glenda’s prior organizing of these clinics. There are enough challenging patient problems that the day passes quickly without my realizing that it was six months ago in that very room that Nicholas told me that David had just died.
When I returned to my room in San Cristobal this afternoon, I noticed Glenda nearby attending an outdoors Bible study. I didn’t pay it any mind until I overheard her ask the pastor if one could recognize others in heaven. You see this Sunday is The Day of the Dead. Glenda and her family will go to the small grave, decorate it with flowers and colorful streamers, and will have their midday meal. And all around them children will be laughing as they fly their kites trying to avoid the trees that have ‘eaten’ more than a few. It’s the windy season.