Life changing would be an understatement of how I would describe my ten day medical brigade to the small island of Ometepe in Nicaragua. Seventeen female CCNM students on the adventure of a lifetime travelling to Central America to work with Natural Doctors International; living with local families, treating local patients. We raised over $21 000 for the non-profit organization/clinic and treated over 191 patients. The culture shock and witnessing the extreme poverty first hand was just a preview to the devastating health conditions we saw working in the clinic. The sometimes seemingly impossible language barrier was challenging at first but we learned small talk and medical terms quickly. The little clinic we worked in served as the walk in clinic, family general practitioner’s office, women’s health clinic, and even emergency services. Here’s a preview of what we treated in our time there;
- Septic dog bite to the foot, severe infection, potential rabies (patient needed immediate tetanus and rabies vaccinations and anti-biotics)
- 8 yr old boy who cut the tip of his thumb off while opening a coconut with a machete
- 12 yr old boy with chemical burns to the face; his family put strong pesticide on their dog and it shook and splashed the chemical all over the boys face and in his eyes
- Female with pelvic inflammatory disease and possible Chlamydia or gonorrhoea (we did a gynaecological exam, sent out labs and prescribed anti-biotics, botanical tincture etc)
- Spider in the ear on the ear drum….the ears Oh the ears!! Every other person I did an otoscopic exam on had either a fungal infection in the external ear canal, an insect in the ear, impacted cerumen (ear wax), or scarring of the ear drum from previous infections
Resistance to pharmaceutical medications is becoming a widespread problem in Nicaragua due to non compliance and incorrect self dosing; you can by any pharmaceutical drug without prescription from the corner store! As a result, the patients we treated responded very well to botanical medicine, nutritional supplements, homeopathy and acupuncture. Most just needed multi vitamins and protein powder due to severe malnutrition, diarrhea and parasitic infections. Naturopathic doctors have full scope of practice down there to prescribe pharmaceuticals and there were definitely some cases where drugs were indicated as well.
It was so rewarding on so many different levels to help patients in the NDI clinic. The people of Ometepe are such loving, giving, happy people! The family I stayed with who took such great care of me and all of the locals I got to know taught me about the simplicity of life and being at peace.
“The things that you own end up owning you” unknown author