I used to love the adventure of international travel. If you were to ask my wife, she'd tell you I have done some pretty impulsive things while traveling. I used to buy a cheap plane ticket to some place I'd heard about, throw together a bag, buy a travel guide book and go. No reservations, no foreign language experience, no idea where I was going, not even a cell phone. I just went. Now is different. Today, when I left on my first medical mission trip to Cusco, Peru, I left behind a lot of responsibility and four sad girls and it just about made me turn the car around at the airport and go home. And if I didn't believe what I am doing is exactly what God put in front of me and intended for me to do-- I would have gone home and enjoyed a week of vacation with my family instead. The thought seriously crossed my mind today. Three out of four girls cried when I left today (you may find it hard to believe, but I haven't always had that effect on women :) Tiff stated it best and it was then that I realized the Lord's purpose in this trip. She said "what blesses you, blesses this family." That's when I decided I should go even if it pulled at my heartstrings; even if I thought I wasn't ready. But was Moses ready? Was Jonah ready? Of course not. Did God expect them to go regardless? Yes He did.
I will be doing primary care with about three other MDs and two optometrists at 11,800 feet. I only know one of the other docs. We will open clinic Monday and see as many people as show up for four days. When I say I don't feel ready, I mean I have not done any variety of general medicine since my internship *gulp* TEN years ago. Time flies, you know. I think it will come back to me. I am certainly taking enough equipment with me to make a good showing: a stethoscope, an otoscope, a pulse oximeter, some bandages, tongue depressors and sutures and a handy medical Spanish phrase book. Most of the stuff was borrowed from Dr. Marsha Wakefield, a colleague and foreign mission veteran at UAB, who, besides my wife, family and church has been very encouraging.
I have been taking Diamox, a mild diuretic medicine which I hope will blunt the effects of high altitude (this blog's title refers to the physiology involved). "Acute Mountain Sickness" is something I do not wish to experience. But the effects of the medicine the last few days has been strange to say the least. Besides pee-ing all night like a 70 year-old man, it has some unusual effect on the taste buds. We ate at Moe's on Wed night and the Diet Coke from the drink fountain was absolutely terrible. I complained to the counter that their Coke:carbonation mix must be off. He "fixed" it. I got a refill. It was STILL disgusting, so I got lemonade instead. The next day at lunch I met Tiff and the girls at Firehouse subs. We sat down and I took a sip of my Diet Coke and. . . *gag* "Their drink machine is goofed up TOO!" It was then it dawned on me, hmmmm, what are the odds of that? A friend had posted on my Facebook the same day her experience with acetazolamide also involved some minor taste alterations.
Please pray for our group's saftey. Pray for my Tiffany's strength, stamina and sanity :) She's the toughest woman I know, but even she has limits and Adelaide, Lucy and Juli push her to it sometimes. Pray for the success of our mission to attend to people's bodies and spirits. Like Jesus asked which is greater, to say rise up and walk or your sins are forgiven? The answer is implied since only He is the "Great Physician."