My name is Deanna Pingel. I am a registered nurse and I work in the intensive care unit back home in Iowa. This is my 3rd year in El Salvador on our medical mission trip. Below is my journal from today's clinic in Jicaro.
The city of Berlin is already wide awake. I hear the cars and motorcycles drive by. Horns honking, people whistling, children laughing. Minutes later my alarm goes off. I stretch in bed, muscles sore from the previous clinic days. As I look around the room I see my fellow roommates popping up one at a time like tulips in the morning. We all look at each other, and with the same passion get dressed and packed for the 3rd day of clinic in Jicaro. We are in the middle of our clinic day stretch, which can be the most tiring but we do not let this overcome is to help the people in Jicaro.
I walk out of the room to go downstairs for breakfast. The sun is already high in the sky with full force. Today is going to be a hot one. Walking through the pastoral house the wonderful smell of a breakfast made with love by the pastoral team is waiting for us. Hot scrambled eggs, black beans, and plantains fuel our bodies for the beginning of the day. Bless the pastoral team for waking up before us and preparing this meal for us.
“The trucks are here!!!”. We all load up the trucks and climb the ladder into the cattle truck. We take our daily clinic day picture (it has become a tradition), and embrace our wooden planks that will be our seats for the next hour to Jicaro. We absorb each bump on the half paved/half dirt road with our bodies and smiles on our faces the entire time.
As we pull up to Jicaro we are are greeted by the community leaders who help us unload and selflessly provide anything we need. Walking up to the building we already had 30 people waiting to be seen. The doctors set up in the building to make 6 exam rooms. This year I worked in the pharmacy. We set up outside with two tables as our pharmacy. Two tables were not enough for our supplies so we had to use an outdoor sink to place medications to grab. Creative effectiveness is what we do most days :)
Clinic rooms are set up and the day begins. Most of of scrubs are already different colors from the sweat from the heat. Pants rolled up, handkerchiefs in water placed around necks… anything we could do to survive the day so we could all stay in for shape to take care of these wonderful people. In this community we saw more chronic kidney disease issues, and vision problems compared to the previous clinics we have been to.
We also had the pleasure of having a chiropractor as well as physical therapist this year alongside with the doctors. One instant I remember from today looking up from the constant business of the pharmacy was an older lady being shown stretches for a hurt shoulder. The amazement of pain relief from just starting one stretch was indescribable! A simple stretch changed this woman's life.
Each family received vitamins for adults and children in the family, as well as toothbrushes and toothpastes for each member of the family. Even if they did not have a prescription for other medications, the appreciation on their faces will forever stay in our hearts. That is what gets us up and going everyday, not just helping with health but the gratitude of the people.
Our clinic day ends and we served 150 people in the Jicaro community. We end the day with thanks for the community and letting us enter their community. Praise and thanks is also given for providing us a wonderful lunch and making us feel welcome. We climb the ladder again into our truck to head back home to the pastoral house. It takes each of us twice as long to make the climb up the ladder from exhaustion from the heat and busy day. The bumpy road greets our bodies again with a quick hello. An hour trip back again we make, “we can do this” I say to myself. Then I look up and am blessed with a refreshing drop of rain on my face. As if God responded “yes you can”. Day 4 of clinic here we come!