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Monday, December 30, 2013

Nicaragua - our most important home visit with Martell

Stan Grogg retired from private practice as a Pediatrician and took a position at Oklahoma State University as the head of Clinical Medicine. He is an amazing human being who is dedicated to teaching his medical students and helping those in need. His wife, Barbara is totally focused on their goal of teaching students, while helping others.

We met Stan and Barb when they were in Bay City.  They were cruising the Great Loop and had mechanical trouble which kept them in Bay City for a few weeks.  Their mechanic...was our mechanic and Ed, called us (as fellow Loopers) to suggest we meet the Groggs. Well, one dinner lead to two dinners.  Stan and Barb asked us to go to Africa. We loved it. They asked us to go to Nicaragua and we loved it...again, but more than that, we received a gift.

Seldom in life is one so touched to be brought to tears. Our souls were touched on this mission and especially by Stan and his gift to Martell.
 

On an earlier trip, Stan made a home visit to Martell. He found Martell, lying on a bed near the door of his home. His parents cared for him and moved him on his bed. He was too heavy to move in any other way. Martell was severely affected by meningitis at 5 months. He was significantly mentally disabled, has little sight or hearing. He is now 25 and is cared for daily by his mother and father. He had not been out of their home since he was a toddler and his mother could carry him.
We had to climb up this hill with the wheelchair to reach Martell's home.



Martell's story stuck in Stan's mind. He knew Martell's only chance to get out of his home to the outdoors, was a special wheel chair. Martell cannot sit up for long periods and needs to lay down. His feet are gnarled, so he would need support for his legs. Quite a special and expensive wheel chair.

Stan and Barb were in a medical warehouse and Stan spotted the wheel chair. How he managed to obtain the chair I don't know, but they were not leaving without the chair. Nathan is a college sophomore at University of Oklahoma. He is a big, strong guy. Nathan pushed the wheel chair through the airport and brought it to the airplane door.

On the last day of home visits, our local manager met us at Martell's home with the wheelchair in the bed of his truck. It was a long ride, far into the countryside. We gathered to climb up the hill to the home. Though we were not expected, we were happily greeted by Martell's parents who showed us Martell, asleep on his bed. Martell was spotlessly clean. Stan wheeled up the chair and explained to his parents what they could do with the chair. His parents cried.  They picked up Martell, one lifting his shoulders and the other his feet. They wheeled him outside for the first time.

Martell squealed in glee. He was so happy and so were his parents!....and so were we!
Look at Stan's joy at finding this wheelchair for Martell!

What a joy to bring such happiness to this handicapped young man and his parents. Nothing we could have done would have made a better day!  Thank you Stan and Barb for the joy you brought to our hearts!

Nicaragua Medical Mission; practicing medicine and loving every minute of it!

Stan and Barb Grogg asked us to accompany them on a second Medical Mission. Stan is the Director of Clinical Medicine at Oklahoma State University. Barb runs their Travel Medicine Clinic as well as organizing numerous mission trips during the year. (six trips per year to Nicaragua alone!) Barb is truly the most organize person I have ever met. She attends to every detail.
As you can see, Stan is one fun guy!
 

We spent two weeks in Uganda in March  with Stan and Barb and flew to Nicaragua in December for a week with the Groggs, medical students, doctors and others. We worked in tandem with Just Hope/DOCARE Global Outreach in Chacraseca, Nicaragua.

During the 1980's the US was deeply involved in the politics of Nicaragua. You will remember the "Contras". (Ollie North) This was a movement against the Sandinistas and grew into a war that killed over 50,000 Nicaraguans (in a country with a population of 3,000,000). The US placed an embargo and mined Nicaraguan harbors in an effort to economically destabilize the Sandinistas. In the World Court the US was found guilty and ordered to pay millions of dollars in reparation fees. Not one dime was ever paid. Nicaragua continues to be in political turmoil.

The population is now just under 6,000,000 with a per capita income in poor areas of $300 per year.  Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the hemisphere. Malnutrition is 40% nationally and 70% in poor areas. Illiteracy is 60% in poor areas and we came upon many older people who were unable to read for a vision test. 76% of the population lives in extreme poverty on less than $2/day, so few are able to buy medication or buy glasses to see.

Nicaraguans are enterprising. They have built communal businesses such as brick factories, bakeries and hardwares. Clever crafts abound, but they remain mostly subsistence farmers.

We found this display in front of one of the churches.  90% of the country is Roman Catholic, but few attend on Sundays. Holidays, on the other hand, are well attended.

Public education is free, but many families cannot afford the clothing, supplies and transportation for their children.

Health care is free as well, but our visit to the largest hospital in Leon (second largest city in Nicaragua), exhibited a third world level of care. On the other hand we were pleasantly surprised with the advanced level of care in specific areas such as dialysis, and neonatal care.
As we walked by the door of this room, a baby was being bathed immediately after birth.
 
 
As we walked by this room, we could not help, but notice the lack of cleanliness we expect in the States.  We learned to say...well, this is Nicaragua!
This grouping of doctors has a professional look. Keep in mind there is no air conditioning in the hospital. We were visiting during the coolest season. Summer must be sweltering, though there is an openness with no windows or screens for mosquitoes.  In fact the Dengue Fever room has mosquito nets over the beds to keep Dengue Fever from spreading to healthy patients. The doctors we met were dedicated to their patients as they were not getting rich as doctors in Nicaragua.
This is the Main Clinic in Chacreseca.

 The Peace House in Chacreseca.


Classroom we used to treat patients.

I can't figure out how to rotate this darling boy.
Our ride was as long as an hour and a half each day, down dirt roads to find the school or building where we were setting up a clinic for the day. Riding in the back of the pickup meant you were covered with dust when you arrived in the morning. Some of us look better covered with dust.
 
This is Genevieve, who is a General Practitioner in Bakersfield, CA. She is extremely knowledgeable and likable. I enjoyed the home visits with her. Osteopathic Doctors have a different approach at times, than MD's. Manipulation is part of her patient care.

Barb Grogg, on the left is a Nurse Practitioner and the Admiral in charge. Linda, in red, is an RN who works in research at Oklahoma State University.
This is Dr Jim, posing as an Optometrist. Doesn't he look professional in his scrubs and shorts?
Intake or triage is an important job. Nina is a student at Oklahoma State, learning to ask those piercing questions. Nicaraguans are a modest people and it can be difficult to get to the heart of the problem.
This was our typical lunch. As a vegetarian, I was the lucky one as beans, rice and cheese work well for me! There was no lack of food. We had hoped to lose a few pounds and....that didn't happen.
Every one worked as a team. Regina in the cap is the head of the Women's Clinic at Oklahoma State. Felicity on the left is a medical student. Terry is a psychologist. Amanda is a medical student specializing on OMM. We learned that OMM is Osteopathic Manipulation ....something. She is quite an expert and expects to return to her small town home in Wisconsin when she graduates.
An important part of the mission is teaching students. Here Genevieve is teaching Justin, a medical student about this woman's diabetes. We treated many people with diabetes, though the medication to treat the disease is difficult to obtain. Hispanics have a higher percentage of diabetics in the population than Caucasians, so it is a critical issue in Nicaragua.
 
 Meeting people in their homes was the most meaningful part of the mission. These patients were unable to travel to the clinic and we walked long distances and rode in the back of pickup trucks, sometimes up to an additional hour to see them. As the scribe, I recorded name, age and treatment. Surprising to see what a hard life and lack of medical care can do to one physically. One ages much faster in this environment.

 The kitchen in a large home. That is a wood burning stove on the back wall for cooking. Rarely is there a need for heat to warm the home.

This s the main area of the home. Chickens and pigs may walk through the home when we are visiting with the patient.
We had clinic one day at this home. We worked outside, which was very comfortable and productive.
 
 
 I tried to go to Picasa to rotate this picture, but it isn't working. She is so cute, you get to see her sideways.

This sweet man brought a few friends in his wagon to the clinic for treatment. Most people walked to the clinic, while others rode horses, rode in wagons or rode on a motorcycle.

Our visit to the beaches of Nicaragua was incredible. We arrived for dinner just before sunset. Those crazy medical students insisted on going for a swim, some in their clothes! The water was like bath water. What fun!

Our most meaningful home visit was to see Martell. He deserves a page of his own.
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Netherlands Summer 2013 Biking Part 2!

This windmill is located in Leiden., which is home to Holland's oldest universities with numerous cafes, shops and museums.
 
Who is this crazy couple?
 
Ernie is a master at repairing flat tires. Jim is a master at getting flat tires......
 
Sometimes we go the wrong way and have to turn around. No problem for this group! We expect it!


 Is anyone else fascinated with graveyards?
 
Charming villages with locks.

Jim and I cannot see too many boats!

These locks are manual, just like the Trent Severn in Canada.

Hey, look what we found! It is a Grand Banks 42, just like Crawdad!

Bunkers from WWII are visible along the coast.
 
Great meals with friends.

Les and me.  We enjoy sports back home in Michigan as well.

We asked for directions along the way, often!

I cannot help myself! Isn't he cute!

 
He just doesn't listen to me!
 
Many drawbridges.

Who is that chick on the wire? I thought she was riding her bicycle.

Jim Pettigrew and Clive Van Order. I am thinking they have had enough for the day.....
 
Are we lost again? Patti, Leslie and Ernie at work.

Netherland's Parliament.

Don't you love that rain?

Peace Palace at The Hague. We took a tour and heard how the US does not participate. Countries are bound by the arbitration dispensed here. Guess we don't want anyone else telling us what to do.

 Sally Price from Hilton Head will kill me if she sees this picture! Rain and miles on the road turns a kind, sweet woman into something else....

Julie Smith from Flint still gives me a smile. She must really be a crazy woman!
 
Gloria, don't you dare! Dorothy Martin from Brighton and Hilton Head. She really is very nice. Really!

Always positive! Good ole Les!
 
 That's my guy!

Bob Van den Bergh has accompanied us on every trip!  He lives in Amsterdam.  He is helping Leslie with low tire pressure.

Carol O'Rourke from Ada, MI, Patty Zensinger on the Ferry, crossing the river.

The top island is Texel Island. In 2005, Jim, Jamie, Joe, Leslie, Ernie and I took a train from Harlaam to the bus station, to the bike rental station, to the boat to get to Texel Island. It poured rain was freezing cold and the wind blew 30 knots. We didn't go to Texel on this trip...

The markets are in the central square in most cities. Fish, cheese, underwear or whatever else you may need is for sale.

We rented 3 speed bikes, except for lucky Jim with his 7 speed bike. Our panniers allowed us to carry our rain jackets, sunscreen, water and munchies.

Our final ride. This is the group that rode through Utrecht...at night. We rode about 70 miles that day in the rain and ending in the dark, as we searched for our hotel. That is our idea of fun! There are people out there who have called us crazy! We love crazy!
 
Thank you Pat and Ernie!  You have enhanced our lives!
 
 We have enjoyed our bicycle trips with you - from riding along the Danube through Austria and Germany to Vermont, to Williamsburg and Jamestown, to Cape Cod-Nantucket-Martha's Vineyard, to Hilton Head, from Burlington to Montreal and two trips to the Netherlands. We will miss our trips as you retire, but we know where you live!