Living in Honduras and Guatemala is sometimes hard, mostly fun but never boring. Here some of my musings on life in this colourful part of the world where you can always expect the unexpected. Hence Serendipity, the gift of finding without seeking…

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Operation: Teresa

Teresa is back home! (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, see my previous post first.)

Amazing how the healthcare of one person in a remote village in a far corner of Honduras can mobilize so many people from all over the world. We have received donations from as far as Chile! But beside our friends; friends of our friends; and friends of friends of friends who have so generously donated to this cause, there are many others involved.

Counting the cash we received and adding up the donations through Paypal and bank deposits was a lot of fun and a huge relief, although a bit complicated because of the various accounts we used and donations in no les than five different currencies (American dollars, Canadian dollars, Euros, Lempiras and Quetzales). A friend who’s in the in & export business offered us to use her bank account to deposit the Lempiras and take it out straight away in dollars (or was it the other way around?), just to save a few bucks there. She also set us up with a trusted money exchanger at the border who gave us a good deal. When all the cash was changed into Guatemalan quetzales, Teresa’s coworkers Bea and Pilo left for Chiquimula to pick up her up and buy her medication, at least for a few days, because we planned to buy the rest in Honduras at a lower price. That turned out to be a bit more complicated than expected and required in the end visits to several pharmacies, but they managed to get a supply for three days of super duper and very expensive antibiotics.

Teresa was happy to go home, although the doctor would have preferred to keep her a few more days. But we simply can’t afford it. At least we made sure she’ll receive all the care she needs in Copán, including some new rules on hygiene that will have to be applied in her home. Bea paid off the hospital bills and left around $300 for the surgery, which was still $1000 short (we had some more money in our accounts, but Paypal transfers last 1-3 days) but the doctor was so nice to give is a few more days to pay. By the way, I want to give this doctor (Dr. Jorge Mario Mendez Paiz) maybe the biggest THANK YOU of all, because without hesitation he operated on Teresa, knowing very well that none of us had any money and all of us being foreigners too!
Anyway, Teresa came home in the early evening. Happy. For us, the shock was that we learned that the antibiotics she needed were much more expensive than we expected: at least $800!!!! She was supposed to get her first intravenous antibiotic treatment at home right then and there (through a catheter in her hand she had gotten in the hospital) but the medication they brought back from Guatemala was in powder form, and didn’t come with the IV fluid. It was too let to find any. Oops! More phone calls to doctors which ended with the decision to give her an injection of other antibiotics in her behind, administered by a friend of us, a nurse, who was so nice to go all the way to Teresa’s house in the middle of nowhere at 9pm… It turned out that Teresa needs three injections a day and as nice as our friend is, he’s not that nice… (Actually, he is, he just has other things to do too.) But another solution presented itself: Hellda, a co-worker of Teresa offered to take her in for a few days. She lives in a village much closer to town and in a concrete house, much easier to maintain clean than Teresa's humble house made of mud and sticks. Helda’s neighbour is a nurse, so the injections are no longer a problem…

In the meantime yet other friends were in San Pedro Sula buying the antibiotics we needed. Teresa was brought to town for a visit to the clinic and then to Helda’s home when we received the results of the exams from the doctor in Guatemala: it turned out that Teresa is resistant against the main antibiotic that she needs. This is a mayor problem for Teresa (for now, but also in the future) but something that happens all too often in Honduras due to the fact that here you get antibiotics for the slightest sneeze. And also because people stop taking the pills as soon as the symptoms of their illness disappear. Anyway, we were just in time to call our friend in San Pedro Sula NOT to buy the antibiotics. Unfortunately we already bought 3 doses in Guatemala, but maybe we’ll be able to resell those through doctor and pharmacist friends.

Argi spent much of the morning in doctors’ clinics to discuss Teresa’s antibiotics treatment and as far as I understand, they worked something out. So far, all goes well. Teresa is doing okay, although the bones of her face have been affected too, we’ll need to monitor her kidney closely. and she’s in a lot of pain, so the road to full recovery will take a while.

As for Argi and me, we are very happy that more donations have kept coming in and we hope they continue to do so. We were very excited when we reached the amount of $2,500, thinking we were almost there (the hospital bill and surgery were $2,600 together), but the medication and after care is going to be more expensive than we hoped for. But we can’t complain: so far we have $2,887.72, which is more than I could ever hope for when we sent out our cry for help less than three days ago.

This is what we raised/spent so far:
Money raised                                    $ 2,887.72
Millennium Hospital                           $ 1,366.00
Surgery                                             $ 1,293.00
Medication (bought in Guate)           $    130.00
Medication (bought in Copán)          $      49.00
Food & necessities for Teresa          $      50.00
                                    Total:                   $  2,888.00
Still needed for medication and follow-up care: About $ 500. 

If you want to make a donation, you can do so using Paypal (connected to my email address carinsteen at or write me for other options (bank deposit, Western Union etc.)

Thanks so much to the following people who have donated and/or helped otherwise: 

Agueda Interiano, Al Steele, Alejandro Ferraro, Alice Dearden, Alice Wilbur, Anna Smith, Annemie van Nieuwenhove & Geert van Vaeck, Argi Diez, Beatriz & Aura Martínez, Bill Corba, Café San Rafael, Carlos Alvarado, Cesar Borregón, Diana Pineda, Elisa Orsburn, Elizabeth Butler, Fito Alvarado, Flavia Cueva, Frida Larios, Hacienda San Lucas, Heather Butler, Helena Ihamuotila, Hilda Santos, Jennifer Casolo Pedro, Jody Patterson & Paul Willcocks, Josue, Katie Miller & Marc Wolf, Mark Zipperer, Michelle Fitz, Michelle Vandepas, Miguel Raymundo, Missy Kluth, Open Edge, Paola Carías, Personnel Hacienda San Lucas, Oneida Rivera, Radiant Health Institute, Rina Peña, Robyn & Geoff Affleck, Ronald Speer, Shannon Kring, Wendy Russell and Yvonne Santiago.

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