Catching up on a blog is hard to do, but I am determined to record as much of our mission as I can. In our old age, we'll need something to remind us. (Wait a minute, we're already in our old age and we definately need a reminder.)
New Years Eve was another night of amazing fireworks; they only lasted until midnight and we were able to sleep most of the night from then on. Starting the new year off right, we left the next day for a remote site visit to one of our favorite places: Solola on Lake Atitlan. We took a volunteer dentist, his wife, hygenist and his assistant with us and treated 198 patients in the three days we were there. Dr. Ryan Brown is a pedodontist and treated most of the children who came in Solola. They come into the makeshift clinic a little bit afraid, but Dr. Brown and his staff really put them at ease. They laugh and smile and then the mood changes.
In Arizona, Dr. Brown has a general anesthesia room where the kids basically sleep through the treatment. He can get the work done quickly there, and the kids wakeup with no trauma. In our remote site clinic, he can't do that. He still worked quickly but just with shots. In five minutes he could extract all the bombed baby teeth that needed to be removed, but the kids would be hysterical. They weren't in pain, but Dr. Brown removed them so fast it was like an act of violence. The kids were screaming and had to be held down by the Doc and his whole staff. That is not the way the rest of us regular dentists operate, and it was stressful working with him. The screaming upset the other children and their parents who were waiting in the hall. He really cleared the room in one way or the other.
Two of our favorite things about Solola are the the Tanners. President Tanner is the Branch President of the Solola Branch. He has eveything ready for us when we get there. He has helpers for sterilization, the room all set up, the patients scheduled, music and best of all FOOD! They get up early to have breakfast for us at 7:30, and I don't mean they fix cold cereal. They have homemade cinnamon rolls, ham and eggs, and juice for us for us. Every morning we have a hearty and delicious breakfast and a wonderful lunch as well. We always hire someone to fix our lunch and breakfast for us for three days so we don't have to leave the clinic to eat, but the Tanners really feed us well. Cooking isn't the only thing we enjoy about the Tanners. They are cheerful, happy and helpful. They did all this work for us while Sis. Tanner was packing for a trip to her daughter's house in Canada where she was going to take care of the children while her daughter had a baby. On the last day we worked, the baby was born and we were among the first to see her via email.
After three days of work, we cleaned up the building, packed up all our supplies and loaded all the equipment into the cars. One night we saw the sun setting behind the volcano as we were leaving the clinic.
We got up early on the next day before we left to enjoy the Hotel Atitlan with its exquisite gardens, gift shop, dining room, and views of the volcano
When we returned to the capital, it was work in the clinic as usual and then screening the Latin missionaries. Elder Call noticed one Elder who was missing a molar and then had another tooth that was loose. He wondered why he had a loose tooth and asked if he had had an injury or something. The Elder said he didn't know why it was loose or why the other tooth got loose and then just fell out. Dr. Call took xrays and saw a large dark area under the tooth in the bone. He suspected a tumor or a cyst and sent him to an oral surgeon to see what was going on. It turned out to be a cyst that was dissolving the bone and that is why he was losing teeth. Eventually Elder Ardon had to have surgery to drain the cyst and had to stay here in the city so he could be near the doctor and the clinic for follow-up visits. After three months his jaw healed thoroughly and he had a partial denture to replace the four teeth he lost. When first seen, his jaw bone was so thin, he had a "glass jaw" which could have been shattered in a minor blow to his jaw. In a basketball game, for example, he could
have been bumped, broken and left deformed. Elder Call felt like he was inspired to investigate that loose tooth which eventually saved that missionary a future of deformity and pain. It was one of the reasons we are here in Guatemala.
That was one of the positive experiences we have had in the clinic. Another event tells a different story. We had one elder in and extracted 4 wisdom teeth. This was the work of Dr. Johnson, our resident expert on extraction. He's a master! Wisdom teeth extraction is one of the main things required by these missionaries. We take Xrays to determine if they need to come out or they can stay. The determination is based on whether they will cause a problem for the elder on his mission. In this particular group of missionaries there was a sister who had been to some amount of dental school in Guatemala and decided she should comfort and advise the other patients after they got back to the CCM from the clinic. Sis. Nicolayson, the CCM president's wife was hearing complaints from many patients. They had been told by this sister misionary that things were done wrong, and she recommended her own remedies for them. One elder who had 4 teeth extracted went to Sis. Nicolayson and said he was in pain from having 8 teeth extracted without his permission. When Sis Nicolayson called, Dr. Johnson recommended a pain medicine and then received a call that he was having further problems because he was allergic to the medicine he took. He didn't mention his allergy to us nor did he write about it on his consent to treat form, He was threatening to sue and he continued to complain about his treatment until two things happened. First, he healed beautifully without pain, and second, his mother said he needed to decide if he wanted to go on a mission or not, because he couldn't go on a mission if he was involved in a law suit. Eventually he admitted he had exaggerated and even lied about his pain. He was sorry and apologized. A victim of "Herd Hysteria."
Fortunately we were able to see many children from the municipalidad this month. They are children from the city day care centers, who come to school early in the morning and spend the day so their parents can go to work as vendors on the streets. It was cold in the clinic because our waiting room is open air.
We have lovely fleece blankets made by Relief Society sisters in the U.S. so the kids come in and wrap up. They love the cozy, warm blankets. Some want to take them home, but we tell them they can use them when they come the next time.
After their treatment they were excited to receive their rewards - a new toothbrush and a monkey or a little car from the sweet sisters from Downey III Ward Relief Society.
One Saturday we had a half-day field trip to a place called Mixco Viejo, a nearby ruin of a Poqomam city and ceremonial site destroyed by the Spanish in 1525. We left Guatemala City on a bus and traveled up, up and up into the mountains where this city was built on the top of a mountain plateau surrounded by steep cliffs and deep ravines on all sides. Our guide said it was built there to be defenseable in case of invasion. There was only one entrance to the city and that was through a pathway carved through the rocks like a open tunnel. It was amazing to see the carvings and the buildings, but unfortunately it was a steep climb to see the pyramid and the ball courts, and I decided not to try to hike down the narrow rocky paths. I stayed up at the top and enjoyed the view and found two pieces of obsidian.
On the last day of January, we went to Los Patitos for the annual screening of all the children. We set up chairs for ourselves and the staff brings in the chhildren class by class. These children range in age from 3 - 7. While Wayne and the other dentists look in the mouth, the assistants write down the findings on a roll sheet. We rank the children according to their needs.
|Wall painting at Los Patitos - The Little Ducks|