A Yampu-sponsored MEDLIFE Student in Lima, Peru: Week Five
This past week the MEDLIFE team showed us what it means to work hard & play hard. See Ian’s account of last week’s adventures (Hint: piranhas!) as well as the difference the MEDLIFE team is making in their patient follow-ups as they work to improve healthcare in the outskirts of Lima.
This past week was very eventful! I spent two days in the Amazon rain forest and to sum it up… I went skinny dipping with piranhas. The two days we spent were filled with non-stop activities and it ended up feeling like we spent a whole week exploring and doing crazy things. On our way to our jungle cabana we stopped at an animal refuge and fed piranhas and alligators. We also stopped to see some monkeys and I totally made a cool friend with a monkey who wouldn’t let go of me. All my other friends kept trying to get pictures with him but I guess I became his friend too. Once we arrived to our cabana we went on a three hour hike in the jungle to see the natural flora and fauna. Later at night we went for a night walk to listen to the animals and gaze at the stars. it was amazing to see the stars almost completely fill the dark sky with light.
The next day we woke up early to watch the sunrise over the amazon. It was so peaceful and I couldn’t stop thinking “Wow… I’m watching the sunrise and I’m in then Amazon rain forest.. like, who would have thought I would be doing that???” Later on in the day we went fishing and we caught a few piranhas! Our tour guide then convinced us that a mile up the river there were no piranhas and that we could swim there… lol the things you believe… So we all went swimming and later he told us obviously there were piranhas but piranhas don’t attack humans. We then took a three hour boat ride back to Iquitos in the pouring rain, but we were able to catch a beautiful sunset.
Patient Follow Up Visit (5 photos of not in jungle, in the field)
Once I got back to Lima I attended and helped with patient follow-up visits. The day was spent navigating the dangerous terrain, locating patients and helping them with the care they needed. The patient follow-up visits were eye-opening, sobering and hard to take in. I saw the realities that our patients live in every day. I saw how their environment affects their health, from having to climb up the dangerous mountainside with no stairs to living surrounded by trash and fecal matter.
At the beginning of my internship I learned that every single MEDLIFE staff member has to go on at least one clinic and one patient to follow-up visit a month. I feel that after today, this is one of the most important things that MEDLIFE can do to keep the connection between the community and our patients with MEDLIFE as a whole. By going into this field, you get a reality check and understand why you are doing what you are doing. You see first hand the conditions our patients are living in. You get a better sense of why things are the way they are and why our patients might not be taking their medicine, making their appointments, or wanting to get surgeries.
During the patient follow-up visits, I learned the importance of communication with the patients and educating them on their medical conditions. Two patients were not present upon arrival. Another patient took two hours to find because we were given the wrong address and cell phone number. I learned that the reason why we were given the wrong address and cell phone number is because the patients feel embarrassed and are scared to receive help. Once finding this patient we explained that she had ovarian cysts. She did not want treatment nor did she want to continue to take her medication. We explain how important the surgery and the medication are for her health. She explained that it wasn’t that she didn’t want to be healthy; it was that she was scared and embarrassed that she was sick. To try to alleviate this problem of being scared and embarrassed we educated our patient properly on her medical condition and empowered her to move past feeling scared or embarrassed. At the end of our visit, she explained that she would have the surgery and continue to take her medicine because she now understands the severity of her condition. Without the communication with and education of the patient we would’ve not been able to help her. This is something that is life and death. And something that we might think is simple as proper communication and education has made a massive impact on this woman’s life.
Hometown: Hamilton, NJ
School: University of Vermont
Minor: Community & International Development
Ian is a mentor for two awesome mentees Keshon and Kiki, a volunteer at the University of Vermont Medical Center on the pediatric floor, the president of MEDVIDA, his local chapter of MEDLIFE, and a member of the UVM Triathlon club. He loves being outdoors hiking, snowboarding, and camping.
Ian first got involved with MEDLIFE at the University of Vermont by joining his local chapter during Freshman year. He went on his first brigade that summer to Cusco, Peru and it changed his life. During his Sophomore year he became Vice President and Brigades Officer for his chapter. That summer he went on my second brigade to Esmeraldas, Ecuador where he first learned about his current internship in Lima, Peru. In his Junior year he became the President of his chapter at UVM and he is now a MEDLIFE Volunteer Affairs Intern.
His goal for this internship is to connect his Biology major and Community and International Development minor through helping with the planning and implementation of sustainable community development projects that help bring medical access to vulnerable communities.