This blog is written by Peggy Sue Nelson, our ultrasonographer. While she acknowledges everyone in a very personal way, she herself needs to be commended for her work: 62 ultrasounds, working in the pharmacy whenever she had free time and was always calm with a positive attitude that never quit, even when ill. Thank you for your generosity, Peggy!
So, It has been over a month since we have been back from our Medical Mission to Peru. I am having a hard time coming up with words to describe what my experience was like. Do I say great! wonderful! awesome! amazing! inspiring!; when we worked with so many people in need? When every child we treated had scabies and worms? Where houses were just square blocks of cement with minimal water and lack of basic necessities, that we take so much for granted? Where dust and dirt swirled all around and permeated everyones throat, eyes and lungs?
Yet I feel that all those words could apply. It was amazing to see a long line of people waiting for us (for hours I'm sure) and watch them clap as we got out of the van and set up all of our supplies and stations for the day. It was awesome to travel higher and higher through dirty streets and poverty filled neighborhoods to arrive at a small, immaculate elementary school high on the mountain. Where you could see that the parents took great pride in the fact that their children would have an education.
It was great watching "Dr. Mike" connect with each of those needing an eye exam and how grateful the people were for a pair of $1.00 glasses that they felt were priceless when they could read again!
It was inspiring to me to see Dr. Brian (who had been having trouble with a back injury) kneel down on a small mattress on the floor to look at a woman who had a large pericardial effusion that we could see with the ultrasound unit donated to us by the Knights of Columbus.
It inspired me when I had nothing but hard tables, or the floor, and cold ultrasound gel to use and not one person complained. They all just kept saying "gracias, gracias!".
It was wonderful to go to the convent and have the school children put on a small program for us to thank us for coming. It was wonderful to work all day and then have a beautiful lunch prepared for us at one of the restaurants and receive a diploma for all of our work for the community. The topper of that day was the traditional dance skit put on by the sisters and the lovely desserts and snacks they prepared for our enjoyment.
The Villa that we stayed at for the first part of our journey was amazing, despite a few bumps :) The people there took great care of us! Juana cooked some great meals and when I was sick she made me a special tea to help me feel better.
Marcia, Diego's mom, was the most amazing woman. So kind and generous to let us stay in her home even though she had just lost her husband to illness a few weeks before we came. She was my Christ like figure on this trip :)
Then there is the TEAM :):):):)
Aileen: Our fearless/tireless leader and mom extraordinaire!!!! I heard her name so many times on this trip I know she can't wait to get home to some silence. What an inspiration!! She has the gift of bringing ordinary people together to do extraordinary things. Without hesitation she took care of us all, as one by one we fell ill and never wavered in her dedication to all the patients we saw. She jumped into every situation with ease and confidence.
Big Mike: The leader's husband and all around visionary!!! "How can I help" were the first words out of his mouth every time we set up the pharmacy. Even when he was sick and we had to tell him the only way to help today was to get some rest so he could help tomorrow, he looked for things to do to ease the day and recruited Jesus to take care of his eye glass program :)
Millie: The most amazing woman! What a gift of organization and dealing with logistics!! Knowing when to be assertive and when to be compassionate, always with a smile on her face:) She was the interpreter extraordinaire! By the last day she had talked so much her voice was barley a whisper but she still managed to interpret when we needed her.
Dr. Brian: Always the teacher!!!! I was amazed at his capacity for knowledge and his willingness to share it with everyone. His gift of personal perseverance and his love of the Eucharist were inspirational.
Rose: Brian's wife who never stood in his shadow but had gifts of her own to share. Her love of helping others was very evident in the many hours she spent helping and making sure everyones needs were met.
Erin: Brian and Rose's daughter. What a beautiful gift of youth, knowledge and enthusiasm!! She helped all who came in contact with her, again never working in her parents shadow but showing how much they taught her to be kind, compassionate, and independent.
Dr. Joel: He came to help us during our second week. What a great gift of compassion for the poor and needy! He was always scrounging around for any kind of medication he thought might help a particular patient. Always kind and considerate and willing to give of his time, talent, and treasure. He went on after our trip to spend a week in a small clinic in the Amazon!!!!
Josh: Dr. Joel's teenage son. I think Josh inspired me so much because I know teenagers and there are not many who would give up two weeks of their lives to go off to remote parts of the earth with their father to work with the poor and needy. Him and his dad made a great team with Josh interpreting and Joel prescribing:)
Erica: Talk about the gift of perseverance!! Erica came to us sick but that did not stop her from sharing all of her gifts of intuition when it came to service for her fellow countrymen. Her gifts of communication and organization were extraordinary!
Robin: Robin was the treatment nurse extraordinaire!!! Nothing rattled her. I will always love her for the shoulder and neck massage she gave me on the bus when, after a long day for all, she saw that it was bothering me. The gift of insight and compassion so evident in all she did.
Camelot: I love her name:) What a strong warrior!!! I have never seen anyone who could (through and interpreter) pull, little by little, all the information out of someone so she could figure out how to treat them. She took her time (a rare occurrence in the medical field today) and really listened to give her patient the best care she could. She will make a great Nurse Practitioner!!! She shared her protein bar with me when I was desperate for protein that wasn't chicken:)
Chris: The first thing I thought of was chivalry!! Just when you thought it was dead, here comes Chris! When I was just getting sick we were walking along the ocean and I was so cold. Chris gave me his jacket (even though he only had a t-shirt on) and insisted that I wear it and that he loved the cold! He always said please and thank you and remarked on what a great job everyone did each day. He also has the gift of listening and knowing almost instinctively what his patients needed. He will also make a great Nurse Practitioner!!
Tim: Tim was with us for the last week of our mission and came on board full steam! Even though he left a young family behind he still gave his all with kind words and a great smile. He is also studying to become a Nurse Practitioner and I have no doubt his contribution to mankind will be amazing:)
Amelia: Strong hearted. Amelia interpreted for several people and brought laughter to our group, always teasing the "young ones" with "pow pow" if they didn't behave!
Mike H.: Defender of the line!!!! He has the gift of energy and laughter. A potent combination!! We could sit around the dinner table and listen to him forever telling stories or jokes!!. "How can I help?" and "what do you need?" were two of his most used sentences:)
Tom: WOW!!! Tom was always on the move. Treating what he could in the most amazing ways. The breathing treatment that they set up using an empty pill bottle was amazing! I'm not sure whose idea it was but Tom could sure make it work:) Tom was always doing his best to reassure patients and to keep things moving along. Tom is also training for a triathlon to support the leukemia and lymphoma society LLS!
Martha: Martha was with us for the first week of our mission and helped with interpreting. Always smiling and making everyone feel confortable. Truly a gift of compassion and healing for all.
Monica: Interpreter and all around logistics specialist!!!! Always ready to help and how she drove her car in that crazy Peruvian traffic is beyond me!! What a gift of congeniality, always willing to share what she had and help where ever she was needed.
Pat (aka--mamaschwedy!!): I saved Pat for last (because I heard that's what you do with the best!) :) Pat was my soulmate and angel on this trip. We were room mates for the entire trip and had many midnight chats in our room each night. We solved all (ok some:)) of life's mysteries:) and we shared our love of grandkids and the joy they bring us. Pat was the pharmacist extraordinaire!!!! She read the medical handwriting ( a feat under the best of circumstances and we were far from that!) without any prior medical knowledge. She made it look so easy until I started helping her and realized how difficult this job really is. She always had a smile on her face ,even though she missed her family and friends a lot, and gave 200% of her time, talent, and treasure!!. Her gifts of love and compassion were so evident in all aspects of her life. She was always making sure I was doing ok and asking if I needed anything (no matter that she worked twice as hard as I did!):)
So, after all this rambling, I can definitely say that this trip was GREAT! WONDERFUL! AWESOME! AMAZING! and INSPIRING and I am so grateful for the experience and the friends I made on the journey!