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  • Susan Brown

Medicine in the Mountains

Worried brown eyes peered at me from a seamed brown face, which was topped by a towering hat embellished with silver coins. She drew her hand across her forehead and then rubbed her knee.  She told me her troubles in a steady stream, and I understood the problems if not the words.  This elderly Akha lady, who had worn her finest tribal costume to our makeshift clinic, was troubled with headaches and joint pain.  I couldn’t speak her language, so couldn’t tell her I was not the one to help her.  My simple job was to take the blood pressure and temperature of each of our “patients.”  I just shrugged helplessly, smiled, and pointed to Sister Janice Lee and Bro. Ricky Cash who had the means to give her at least some temporary relief.

It was Monday afternoon, and we had traveled north to this Akha village to “do medicine.”  They had an awning set up by the church and chairs arranged for the patients.  Sister Janice was obviously ill — her rheumatoid arthritis condition makes traveling painful, and she was nauseated and dizzy, as well.

“Do you want to lie down in the van?” Bro. Lee asked her. “Ricky can carry on until you feel better.”

“I’m ready to get started,” she said.  She draped her stethoscope around her neck and went to work, although probably more ill than most of the patients.

We lost count of the people who came through, because the chairs would fill up with latecomers as soon as they were emptied.  Paul tried to keep track and estimated that we saw around 100 people that afternoon.  He helped fetch medicines when needed and observed Janice and Ricky, wanting to be able to help when they are gone.  Anond has learned enough from watching them through the years to provide basic care — antibiotics for ear infections and inflamed throats, a cream for fungal infections, another cream for cuts and abrasions.  And soap.  Nearly everyone received a bar of antibacterial soap and instructions to wash and to drink more clean water.

There were other issues more difficult.  One young man had large knobs sticking out from most of his joints.  The arthritis condition had deformed him already, forcing him to walk on crutches and making his life a misery.  Janice, knowing his pain, loaded him up with anti-inflammatory pills and ibuprofen.

One lady had seizures.  Nothing we could do for that.  No way to help the people with cataracts, either.  But we did what we could.

The weather was cooler, high in these mountains, and a refreshing breeze blew through the porch of the neat white church building.  Still, the day seemed long and wearing — and all I was doing was taking vital signs.  We were all glad to be done, and on our way again.  It was still more than an hour away from Chiang Rai — our final destination for the day.

We stopped at a lovely, green resort with a restaurant by the river for a break and a snack.  This part of the country is especially lovely with the large lake and the river wending it’s way through the mountain valleys.  Flowers bloom everywhere.  Exotic orchids grow like weeds on the trees and the jungles are dense and green so soon after the rainy season.

We drove in the rest of the way and stopped at the Little Duck hotel.  The best part of the place is the free Wifi.  However, we forgot the power cords and I see I have 5% power reserve left.  Better post this!

Today we do medicine for the Burmese church members and the guys meet with a delegation who want a Bible school in this area.  Please pray for Janice’s health and for direction for the meeting today.

Blessings from Thailand,


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