Two Fantastic Guest Speakers

The last two days, we've had the pleasure of getting to receive a plethora of information from two very different people. Yesterday, Dr. Rodolfo Sanchez, a specialist in infectious diseases, spoke with us about communicable disease and diseases caused by parasites. Today, Berta Juarez talked with us about her responsibilities as a midwife.

First, let's start with what Dr. Sanchez presented to us. The first lecture on communicable diseases covered a pretty wide range of diseases. The statistics that he had on malaria were actually kind of frightening. Also, apparently the doxycycline that I've been taking as a malaria precaution aren't effective in Semuc Champey, the place we're going for our free weekend. So that's kind of concerning. But I think I'll be fine, I trust my mom's prescription too. The second lecture he gave us on diseases caused by parasites was nightmare inducing. His description of how these parasites act is nothing short of a horror story. Not to mention, he also did us the favor of including some pictures of particularly nasty parasitic infections. Despite the grossness of it all, it did serve to illustrate how dangerous these infectious and diseases can be.

Next, Berta Juarez spoke with us about her experience as a midwife. Something that is notable about her is that she completed a two year course in which she worked with doctors to learn techniques that midwives typically do not learn. This allows her to recognize problems that other midwives may not be able to recognize. When she presented to us, she brought the actual herbs and flowers that she will use when working with an expecting mother. We passed them around and took the opportunity to smell them as well. The thing that I found the most interesting is she was telling us that typically around the 8 month mark, she checks to see if the baby's head is in a downward position for delivery. If the baby isn't in position, she works with other midwives to massage the baby into a head-down position to ease delivery. It can take up to 3 days to slowly move the baby into position. However, there are times when they are unable to move the baby, in which case they prepare the expecting mother for transport to the hospital. With 22 years of experience, she had a lot of interesting things to tell us.

Tomorrow we'll be visiting the public hospital of Quetzaltenango, and after that we start our 12 hour bus ride all the way to Semuc Champey. It's gonna be a long day. -Scott