Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I'm here...por fin!

Hello all!

Well, I've made it to Honduras after one intense week of jewelry-making training. Now I have all kinds of jewelry skills you wouldn't imagine...and my perfectionistic tendencies are serving well for quality control...haha. Anyhow, I've arrived in San Pedro Sula and have spent the last 2 days meeting the patients and staff and learning all about the different programs at Siempre Unidos. They have several prevention programs that I'm really interested in and hope to be a part of in my "free time." Tomorrow though I head to Siguatepeque where I will live and work at the clinic and jewelry workshop that employs several of the HIV patients. Though I haven't yet made it to Siguat, I've already had some crazy and emotional experiences.

Personally, I've had a roller coaster of emotions, of the stress from the last month graduating and preparing for my new life in Honduras and then along with the disappointment I felt when I arrived here and in all honesty, didn't really like it (the environment, the accent, the food). But I realized I've been comparing it a lot to the DR and though I didn't fall in love with the country right away like I did the DR, I still need to give it time. Also, I'm not here to fall in love with a country, I'm here to work, to learn about the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS, and the lives of those health workers trying so hard to help and minister and treat their patients. I'm here for work, for experience, for the daily grind (thanks to all those who have helped me better understand that). And today, I had an interesting and intensely real experience that helped me accept that even more...

Though I met several people and patients yesterday, today I had the opportunity to sit in with the nurse and be a part of the medical outreach. Since I worked in a prenatal HIV clinic in the DR, I thought it would be relatively similar, just reviewing their status and giving information and such. Well, it was a lot more intense than that. With all due respect to this man and his family, I have to say that for the first time in my life I watched a man almost die of AIDS today. The young man was brought in by his daughter and sister, after he collapsed on the floor. He was diagnosed with HIV several years ago but hadn't followed his treatment regimen and had fallen seriously ill about 2 weeks ago, but didn't want to see a physician. When they brought him in, he was so weak and frail. He could hardly walk or talk or even respond, his eyes were somewhat glazed over, he was sweating from fever and wheezing as we moved him into the clinic bed. The Siempre Unidos clinic is really an ambulatory service and so he had to leave immediately for the hospital, but as his family went to call a friend to pick them up and the nurse left to prepare an injection, I was left alone with him in the clinic room. I wasn't sure how to react, what to say. I'd never sat beside a man literally about to die of AIDS. What was he thinking at that moment? What should I be thinking or doing at that moment?

And then, he began to reach into his pants. I started freaking out; I didn't know what was about to happen until he began to pee all over the hospital floor. Ah, okay, ya entiendo. Yet still, there I was, alone with this suffering man as he peed. Not gonna lie, a little awkward on my second day, but then again if you gotta pee, you gotta pee, even if you are practically incapacitated. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how the man is doing now. A staff member carried him into a taxi to go directly to the hospital. We gave the family a packet of Pampers for while they'd be waiting there, just in case. He didn't look good, and who knows how long it was/will be before the doctors actually saw/see him at the emergency room. Perhaps I'll never know...but, for now, I'm saying a prayer.


hlovell said...

Wow Jo! Intense experience already. I have complete confidence, after a decade and a half of friendship with you, that you will learn and grow from your experience. I have always admired how strong you are. Your heart is so big and I love your for that! What you are doing with your life is so special and extraordinary to me. I can't wait to hear more!!!

dechapin said...

Wow, girl! Sounds a lot different than discussing AIDS in the safety of a JHU Masters class!!! This is to see the raw human effects of the pandemic up close and personal...and to think this is the experience of millions in Africa, India, South Asia. It's impossible to absorb! Just remember, God calls us to do what we can do...not what we can't do. Stay strong!