Traveling to Honduras with Gabriella Sheldon

Traveling to Honduras and providing care to the Honduran people has become a passion for me. Friends of Barnabas Foundation (FOBF) is the organization I choose to travel with because the care they provide is sustainable and continuing education is something that empowers the communities to be in charge of their health and wellness.
A typical day starts with a hearty breakfast so that our bodies are nourished so that we may provide good care throughout a long, hot day. The team, comprised of 4 medical and 6 non-medical members, then gets on a bus and takes a long and bumpy ride up into the mountains of Honduras. The typical ride takes about 1.5 hours.
Part of the contract with FOBF is that the community members unload the bus, and that there is space in which to set up medical, dental, and eye clinics, as well as vitamin, deworming and measuring/weighing stations. It always amazes me how quickly the community members unload the bus, always in the blazing heat, and always without complaint.
Clinic photo 3As each of the clinics and stations are set up, another astounding thing to witness is how patiently the Honduran children sit and wait until it is their turn to receive care in each of the clinics/stations. These children do not have cell phones to distract them, they just know that we are there to help them, and wait patiently and quietly for their turn.
Many of the community members, both young and old, suffer from respiratory issues. This is due to having wood stoves in their homes/living space where the smoke is not vented to the outside. Although I do educate the parent(s) on the need to air out their living space as much as possible, sometimes, it is just not feasible. Thus, I teach a lot of postural percussion for parents to perform on their young children in hopes of breaking up some of the chest congestion. Medications such as inhalers, nebulizer treatments and allergy pills are also options that might be prescribed when needed.

This year the medical team was told to be especially vigilant for signs of Dengue since many Hondurans have died from this sickness. I had a patient who came in with a 38.1 C degree temperature. That is 100.6 F. In the US, we might take some acetaminophen, drink fluids and maybe rest for the day. In Honduras, I had to ask many questions to determine if she might have Dengue. Symptoms include a fever that isn’t relieved by taking acetaminophen, body aches, dehydration and being lethargic. The person might also complain of eye pain, ear aches, throat pain, stomach cramps and vomiting. Dengue can also cause bleeding from any orifice. This woman had most of those symptoms, but thankfully, no bleeding. We were blessed to have two of the most amazing physicians with us, Dra Gabriella Calix and Dr. Dominguez. Dra Calix opened the Dengue clinic in Pena Blanca and Dr. Dominguez is one of the doctors who works on the clinic. I requested Dr. Dominguez come to my medical station and provide a consult. As soon as he saw the woman he said, “this is the classic look of someone suffering from Dengue.” He said she was in Category B. Category C is when the bleeding occurs and is associated with hypovolemic shock. Category C should be managed in the hospital, but Category B can be managed in their clinic, or in the person’s home if they have someone who can help monitor the symptoms. Dr. Dominguez went into detail as to what this woman needed to do and encouraged her to come to the clinic.

This is my fifth mission trip and each trip brings something that sticks with me. For me, a moment that touched me and broke my mama’s heart was experienced in my medical station. I had a mom and two Total Clinic numbers (1)boys, ages 9 and 12, sit down for care. Starting with the 9 year old, I was told his main complaint was headache and joint pain. Turns out, that was the same complaint for the 12 year old. In speaking with the boys and their mom, I learned that the 12 year old didn’t attend school, but instead worked all day long harvesting corn and beans, or whatever harvest was ready. The 9 year old was in school til noon, then joined his brother in the field as well. When I asked about hydration, the mom said she sent a jug of water with her son to the field. When I asked him if the water was all gone before the end of the day, he said he knew he had to ration the water because he knew there was no place near the fields to refill his jug. I was struck by how proud this 9 and 12 year old were to be providing for their mom. My heart hurt knowing these boys know thirst. I provided what I could to help these boys with their aches and pains, and then prayed for them as they left my station.

I am always thankful that I have the resources to travel to and serve in Honduras. This year I was especially thankful that I was a recipient of the One Nurse at a Time scholarship, which allowed me to go on Dengue Clinica second mission trip to Honduras.
Gabriella Shelden, RN