Anita and I have recently returned from another adventure in the always exciting and ever-changing lives of the two Wuqu’ Kawoq interns: road-tripping across Guatemala with a group of seven surgery patients to take advantage of our collaboration with Children of the Americas (COTA). COTA is a US-based organization that sends a large group of doctors and surgeons to Guatemala for one week each year to take over a national hospital and offer a blitz of free surgeries. This year, the COTA trip landed in the highlands—in Santa Cruz del Quiche—which meant quite a few hours in the car and a bit of unexpected chilly weather for our patients from Socorro. In the end, all of the travel and extra blankets were worth it: all seven of our patients–from Socorro, Comalapa, and Tecpan–are recovering well from their surgeries, and we could not be more grateful to all the hard work and kindness that went into organizing the COTA trip.
COTA brought down truckloads of medical supplies and surgeons of several different specialties—obstetrics, orthopedics, plastics, and general surgery—in order to provide a great range of surgeries to patients. The COTA surgeons were kind enough to allow Anita and me (as future medical students) to watch several of the surgeries. While not watching surgeries or taking care of our group, we worked as interpreters, helping out wherever we could in the general medicine, pre-op, post-op, orthopedic, and dental clinics. We were able to share some of the Guatemalan Spanish idiosyncrasies we have learned along the way: for example, that when a K’ichee’-speaking patient says that their “feet” hurt, they may in fact mean that their legs hurt, since in K’ichee’ the same word is used for both “foot” and “leg.” Although working as translators for many hours a day can be tiring, we had a fantastic time chatting with the patients, working with the doctors and nurses, and learning a great deal about medicine along the way.
We would like to take the opportunity on this blog to send out a great big thank you to all hose who made the COTA trip possible: we, and especially our patients, are very grateful for your hard work!