And yes, please pray for the crazy lady “doctor”.
This morning we visited Marcos, a 13 month old who has not been feeling well. Apparently he’s had a fever for 3 days and diarrhea for over a week.
“Has he seen a doctor?” I asked his mom, Florinda.
“I’m going to see her today. I’m leaving this morning.”
I was relieved. I wasn’t comfortable with those types of symptoms and if it were my son, we would be visiting a doctor.
“Can we pray for you and Marcos?”
She nodded yes. She seemed so distracted.
As we were praying I felt the Holy Spirit of God telling me to drive her to the doctor.
“What time is your appointment?” I asked.
“I don’t have an appointment,” she answered.
“Can we drive you?”
“Yes. Thank you,” she said shyly.
We parked the van and walked down an alley. We passed a parked truck with 5 young men, and an older woman standing around it. The scene seemed sketchy to me. We asked if they know where the Dr.’s office was. The older lady walked up to us and told us that she died yesterday!
“I’m just kidding! I’m the doctor!”
We should have just walked away.
We entered a metal door of what looked like a home, not a doctor’s office. There was a handmade sign outside the door, “Firewood for sale”. As we walked through the narrow hall there were piles of 2nd hand clothes and another sign, “Clothes for sale”. At the end of the hallway there were eight chicken crates with live chickens. She seemed to trust this “doctor”, so we kept going. She parted a curtain that led to…her bedroom! I’m not kidding! A bed, a dresser, small refrigerator, mirror, family photos! We should have walked away.
“Lay your baby on the bed. Tell me, how is your baby feeling?”
After listening to the symptoms and poking around his tummy, she said she had something for Marcos and that she would be right back. She came back with a small glass of watery oatmeal looking “stuff”.
At this point I really felt like I might be in shock because I couldn’t seem to speak fast enough. In my best Spanish I tried to understand what she was asking Florinda to give Marcos. He’s trying to swallow but can’t seem to drink it fast enough as this crazy lady is prodding Florinda to force it down. I can confidently say, this lady was NOT a doctor and we needed to get out of there.
“How much do we owe you?” I asked.
“20 Quetzales.” Which is the equivalent of $2.50. We overpaid.
We left the bedroom, walked passed the chickens and clothes and firewood. We walked back down the creepy alley to my van.
“Florinda, can I take you to the doctor I take my kids to?”
She nodded yes.
We drove 40 minutes and met with a real doctor. When we explained what we had just gone through. He said it is very common and a big problem in Guatemala. Because the smaller villages don’t have a doctor, someone eventually starts mixing home remedies. Unfortunately, every village has a crazy lady “doctor” who knows nothing about medicine.
After examining Marcos and talking with his mom, the doctor explained that the baby has an infection and needs treated right away. BUT, the bigger problem is that Marcos is severely malnourished. He looks like a 5 month old and can’t sit up, let alone crawl or walk. The doctor can’t even prescribe antibiotics because he feels they need to be administered by an IV and watched closely by a physician.
This news is devastating to Florinda. She doesn’t want to go back to the hospital. She was just there with Marcos for a month and the now the doctor is saying Marcos may need 4 more months of hospitalization to get him healthy again.
All I can see is the fear in her eyes.
And here is the root of the problem. As we walked out of the doctor’s office, I paid 150 Quetzales, which is the equivalent of $20 U.S. You and I know that’s a cheap doctor visit, but that’s a mountain of money to people of the villages.
The drive home was quiet. I can’t imagine what she was thinking. I encouraged her and let her know that we would help in any way we could. We would pray for her and visit her. We parked the van and walked her to her home. “If the doctor says we have to take him in, we have to do it,” she said.
I always imagined that as a missionary, my days would end with feelings of satisfaction or at least contentment. But our drive home was a lot like it is on most days, driving quietly, with our hearts breaking into a million pieces.
Please pray that Marcos gets to the hospital this week. Please pray for a full recovery to a healthy weight. Please pray for his parents that they would have patience and strength. And yes, please pray for the crazy lady “doctor”