The mother wore a poncho, the child held really still and HOPE volunteer Dr. Daniel Barry got pretty excited as he tried to round up the Nicaraguan medical students acting as translators. Something was about to go down.
The syringe was filled with water and Dr. Barry squirted it off to the side with a decent five-foot projectile just to get the air out. He then inserted it into the little boy’s ear and several seconds later a black chunk fell into a pan.
“It looks like the eraser on the end of a pencil,” Dr. Barry says referring to the black hunk of wax that flowed out from the boy’s ear. “It’s totally normal.”
Apparently, wax gets cleaned out all the time like this back home “at the office.” The water flows through the ear drum and gets behind the wax, and when the pressure builds up a little the wax is dislodged from the ear. Dr. Barry let his translator/student diagnose it. “She figured it out,” he says.
Back at home, Dr. Barry uses an ear drying solution, so that his patients do not get swimmer’s ear, which is the same as an ear infection. But at the Centro Civico site in Nicaragua, he used a paper towel and prescribed antibiotics for two days just in case.
Also, sometimes the wax is attached to dead skin cells and a piece of skin comes with it. So, the raw skin may be sensitive to an infection, he says.
Later in the day, a woman came in with her two children. She had questions about breastfeeding which she addressed to HOPE volunteer Midwife Patricia Olenick. After helping the woman with her questions, someone saw that her cheek was swollen a bit. She had molar pain. And it bled a little.
“Sometimes it’s painful for so long, they stop complaining about it,” says one of the Navy medical professionals participating in Continuing Promise 2011. “You can die from an abscess here. It’s hard to imagine that in America, but people here live two hours away from any medical facility and it is difficult to get here,” he says.
“If a mother dies, it wipes the whole family out, and these kids become orphans.”
Remember “patient, patient, patient.”
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