This week, we have a guest post from Alexis Tran, a third year ob-gyn resident who’s volunteering with Saving Mothers in Guatemala. Alexis will be sharing the details of her experiences in Santiago Atitlan with us in a series of posts.
Five Days in Santiago Atitlan
The days unfold slowly. My walk through the highlands to the Hospitalito calms me as I pass local women, children, animals, and men on foot, in trucks, on buses or red-colored tuk-tuks. “Buenos Dias” resonates; a smile quickly establishes familiarity. The sounds of morning remind me I am among new neighbors: roosters crowing, trucks passing, rainfall and distant morning chants. The sun behind the clouds hovering over the peaks of San Pedro welcome me into the warmth of the day.
At the Hospitalito, women crowd the prenatal and gynecology clinics clad in their traditional indigenous dress — waiting. My first day, I was glad to help perform a cesarean section on a multiparous patient with a history of a previous cesarean section. This is the first cesarean section performed here in months. The operating rooms are beautiful, well-lit, and the staff is dedicated. Hospitalito primarily serves the families here. The next closest hospital is nearly an hour by car, an untimely distance for a labor and delivery ward.
That same evening, a woman returned to the Hospitalito for retained placenta following a home birth by a comadrona nearly three weeks ago. She complained of persistent abdominal pain, foul smelling discharge and bleeding. Following confirmation with a bedside ultrasound, I performed a dilation and suction curettage for her that evening in the OR. She recovered well. I am grateful for the opportunity to use my training to serve a woman in her time of need.
My first week in Santiago Atitlan is teaching me to walk at a new pace. I realize too when I see my patients in clinic that whether in English, in Spanish, or in Tzutuhil, Mayan women of Santiago Atitlan share similar health concerns as women everywhere.