Today was the first day of the Medical Clinic, and I must say it was really enjoyable. Costa Rica has a public health care system, but you can only use it if you have social security. Social security is costly, and you have to be working to be able qualify as the minimum salary for inclusion is 101,000 colones ($202, £134 a year). This means that many people don’t have access to the public health system, and can’t afford simple medicines like paracetamol (acetaminophen) or ibuprofen. My job was managing the drugs, so I had a little drug store at the venue, and after people saw the nurses and told them their symptoms, they came to me and I prescribed and administered drugs as necessary. It is such an amazing way to serve, to just know that you’re giving something so small that we take for granted in England. We treated everything from hypertension to UTIs, respiratory conditions (asthma), chest infections, wound care, acid reflux, diarrhoea, constipation, nerve pain, kidney problems; it was amazing!
It was also heart wrenching because we couldn’t treat everyone and we didn’t have enough medication. Many times I had to dilute down crushed antibiotic tablets to get children’s doses or because some patients couldn’t swallow. We had patients who had asthma or hypertension that was through the ROOF who had never received any medication to treat their hypertension because they couldn’t afford it. Asthma patients were using NSAIDs (Ibuprofen and naproxen) regularly because they didn’t know it could make their asthma worse…it was good to serve!
The story that most touched my heart though, was a young girl who came in saying she had stomach pains that were keeping her up at night. After more probing, we found out that she had been inhaling modeling glue with her friends to get high for about 4 months now, and she had recently stopped a week ago; her pains were withdrawal symptoms. We got to counsel her about using drugs, and pray with her and I know we really made a difference in her life. She said she started because of peer pressure and she wasn’t aware of the side effects.
We also got to go door to door and evangelize to people in a local run down village in Alajuelita. This people lived in corrugated sheet metal houses on dirt floors. Inside the homes there were no walled partitioning, but it was one large room with bed sheets used to divide up the space. To get to these houses we had to cross open sewers and man made pathways and bridges of wooden shop crates that were rotting. It was dangerous to say the least, we had to take all our jewelry off, and no camera were allowed. The amazing thing though is that even in these conditions, people in Costa Rica are happy! We in England have so much more, but we complain so much. We need to get back to the place of contentment that the bible talks about, I think that is something that we are definitely missing in the western world!
Anyway, this blog is getting long now – I’ll add the rest to another post…I’ll upload pictures at the end of the week