By: Ciara Gorman
(Posted September 8th, 2015)
Day 7 of our trip was the turning point for me in our clinics. During our clinic orientation, Dr. Pinto had taught us about common illnesses and diseases we would frequently see throughout the next couple weeks and mentioned to us that prevention education was one of our most powerful tools to help people. By now, I felt confident in taking patient history (mostly in Spanish by now!) and performing physical exams. I was not prepared however for the emotional toll seeing some of these patients had on me though. Experiencing some of the living conditions our patients had and the surrounding communities really opened my eyes to why some people were sick! It was a common practice to burn garbage in these areas, but, often times they were open fires in backyards or right next to the homes. We would frequently see children with severe allergy symptoms and respiratory issues in our clinics and I would tell the parents that their smoke from burning garbage was a likely cause.
A common illness we saw was Chikungunya. This was a viral disease passed to humans from mosquitos and resulted in rashes, fever, joint pain that could last anywhere from a couple weeks to several months. It was interesting to see an illness not common in the US frequently in another country and reminded me of the importance of constantly studying and staying on top of illnesses whether they are common to your area or not. I learned the vital importance of a thorough physical exam when a young girl complained of common cold symptoms like a sore throat, fever, and body aches. The minute I asked her to open her mouth so I could look inside I was shocked. She had the most swollen tonsils I had ever seen and we classified them as stage III tonsillar hypertrophy, meaning they were almost completely obstructive to her throat. Thankfully we gave her an immediate referral to the hospital to get them taken out. If we hadn’t looked in her throat, we probably would have diagnosed as a common cold and just prescribed acetaminophen!
Thankfully our long days were also followed up with relaxing evenings exploring the cities we visited. In Masaya, we visited their famous outdoor mercados (markets) and shopped for souvenirs and even found hammocks a couple of us bought! I had my first smoothie with guayaba and pitaya! They were some funky looking fruits but they tasted awesome. All of the fresh fruit we’ve never heard of but got to try everyday was definitely one of my favorite parts of Nicaragua. I never found one I didn’t like!
exchanging money at the Nicaraguan border!
The best smoothie i’ll ever have!
Pitaya aka dragonfruit!