Dr. Ari came into my consultorio laughing in the afternoon and asked if I had ever heard of a cuy x-ray. Interested, I said no, but please tell me. She said she had a patient who came into her office telling her he had problems with his gall bladder. He knew because when he went to the local witch doctor, they had taken a cuy (guinea pig), placed it on his abdomen for some time, and then afterward killed the cuy, dissecting it and examining all its organs. During the dissection they found that the cuy’s gallbladder was inflamed, indicating that the patient himself had an inflamed gallbladder. A Cuy X-Ray!
It is so nice to have company on the walk home from work! Annie was excited to share that we had some new Cuy! You may not remember that our last cuy suffered the fate of being dinner for something in our backyard! This time we were more prepared with cages that are not so easily accessed. Unfortunately, the second day we had our new guinea pigs, one escaped out of Annie’s hands and ran under some construction at our neighbors house. I think it had had enough of Annie patiently pulling fleas out if its fur. There was no way to find our little pet, and we were convinced that once again we were on our way to being some of the worst guinea pig farmers in the neighborhood. However, today we saw our little cuy crawling around in the garden. She had come home! Now she is back in her cage, safe and sound.
That is guinea pig reheated in the microwave in case some explanation is needed. This picture is from our friend Stephen Wright’s Instagram account. Their blog is here. I seriously don’t know what I think about this. We are continuing to work on our cultural sensitivity.
I was honored and surprised at the gift, and frankly I did not know what to do with it.
I would like to share the story of a patient we had in the hospital. He came in with pneumonia, and he was recovering well. He had actually been a bit of a diagnostic dilemma, because we did not have x-ray service at the time of his arrival, and he was actually complaining of abdominal pain, not shortness of breath. However, we found the pneumonia, and he responded incredibly rapidly to antibiotics. What makes his case so sad and different, is that the day he began to recover, his wife who was with him in the hospital received a call that their two year old daughter had fallen in the creek and drowned. She left quickly that day, but did not tell her husband.
As an aside, kids run free in our part of Peru, and sometimes it is amazing that more of them are not injured or killed. I love the freedom the kids have, but the consequences can be extreme.
It took a lot of work to convince the family (the patient’s brother and sisters) that he was well enough to go home to be with his wife and to hug and see his daughter one last time. There was a cultural barrier to be overcome as they did not want us to tell him being afraid that his emotions would make him worse. Yet through the persistence of Dr. Martina John (who is brilliant and the heart of our hospital staff) they were convinced that he could go home, and that in fact it would be better that he should go home. So they left; but last night they came back for a recheck. He was doing well. He still had some back pain, but his lungs were more clear, he did not have fever, and his oxygen levels were good. He will come back to see me in another week, at his insistence, not mine. I think he is well enough to continue on his own without follow up. Of course I wondered how our cross cultural conversation had gone as we had pushed him and his family to go home earlier in the week. Were they angry? Did they think we were wrong in our actions? I got my answer as his sister told me she had dinner for me and for Dr. John. She unwrapped her shawl that she had slung over her back (I had thought there was a baby in there. That is where they generally carry their kids, and I am often surprised when I hear a cry from within a blanket that I thought was carrying bread.) Out came a Peruvian delicacy, Cuy with a Peruvian staple, potatoes. I was honored and relieved and touched. I told them how thankful I was for the gift, quickly wrapped it up in a bag and placed it in the refrigerator to bring home to share with the family the next morning after my night on call. Thank you God that my stumbling and bumbling through the hospital is being covered by your grace. Thank you God for my first Cuy. (Click on the pictures for a better look.)