The Calm Before the Storm
Today´s blog post will be pretty short compared to our earlier ones. Briana, Cindy, Judy, and I intended to visit three or four different health centers around Hospital Carrion, but due to the fact that there was apparently an important election today to appoint doctors and nurses from the area to a Federation of Doctors, many of our contacts were out voting. So we met far fewer patients than anticipated, and have decided to add a Saturday visit to our schedule, which will no doubt be intense.
Anyway, after the depressing posts about yesterday`s patients, I thought we could start with something a little different today: a success story!
Because we weren’t supposed to take photos in the health clinic, we don’t have one of Miguel, but here are some shots Cindy snuck of the health clinic (La Perla) before they told her to stop.
Age: 23 years old
Miguel is 23 and has been in treatment for his MDR-TB for the past 6 months (meaning he´s made it through the interval with the highest rate of failure, and is now on fewer meds). He isn´t sure how he caught TB in the first place, but in the months before his diagnosis, he was pushing himself very hard, working a job during the day and attending classes at night. Obviously, he wasn´t really sleeping properly, and as he didn’t have a lot of money, he wasn´t eating very much either, which weakened his immune system (maybe Miguel was a UChicago student in a past life). He lives in a poor area, and passed many trash collectors on his route, which is where he thinks he contracted TB once his immune system was weakened.
Fortunately, Miguel sought treatment right away, and began receiving food baskets funded by the World Bank. Now he has been able to return to his job and his night classes while eating enough to keep him healthy!
Miguel and Judy spoke a great deal about ASPAT (he was clearly very interested), and about Miguel´s plans for the future, which involve graduating from school, where he studies graphic design, and opening up his own t-shirt business. Judy told him to call her anytime, she and ASPAT would really like to help him with finding some start-up funds. After Daniel and Jocelyn from yesterday´s post, it really was great to meet someone like Miguel, who´s been so compliant with the treatment and has so many plans for his future. We wish him the best of luck!
At this point, I think the three of us have learned a lot more about the types of patients that ASPAT is seeking to help. I divide patients into three groups, sort of like in triage.
Patients like Miguel, who are for the most part self-motivated and completely compliant. ASPAT might help these people with their future plans, give them a little bit of short term help to make it easier for them to finish treatment, or even seek to incorporate them into the team. But on the whole, this group of patients doesn´t receive much help while they are sick, because they don´t really need extra encouragement to comply.
Patients like Raul, who would like to comply with the treatment, but fail because they feel torn between their families and their treatment plans. These people receive the most support from ASPAT, both in the form of food baskets and emotional guidance, and use up the majority of the ASPAT´s resources.
Patients like Jocelyn, who are beyond help. ASPAT doesn´t bother to waste resources on people who don´t want treatment, and who are incapable of taking the treatment due to circumstances of their own. In these cases, ASPAT just tries to improve the situations of the innocents suffering from the patient´s failures (in Jocelyn´s case, her children).
Anyway, Miguel was the only patient we actually met today. We stopped by several other health clinics, but personnel was usually absent. Tomorrow, we´ll be heading out bright and early once again (oh joy!) to Ventanilla, this time to Pachutec, the absolutely poorest region to evaluate patients at the health centers there. Stay tuned!
Bonus photos: Cindy has been pretty excited about all the graffiti she’s seen in Lima on this trip, so here are a few shots of the strange and vivid art that has decorated Lima’s public walls.