One of the great things about health care is that you get to help people... people with different needs, different experiences, different stories. Last year, I was fortunate enough to go on my first medical mission trip through Hands for Americas and Samuel Merritt University. I went with a group of health care professionals and students to provide basic medical services in a rural area of Panama. Let me tell you. It was a trip of a lifetime. It was inspiring and life changing both professionally and personally. The people we treated were amazing. Since the nearest hospital is about 5 hours away by truck, they walked for hours and then waited for several more hours to see us. No complaints. Just patience and appreciation. The medical team worked so cohesively. We all had different levels of experience and hadn't worked together before (actually, I met them all for the first time at the airport), but we had a common goal. We became fast friends. I also put my physical therapy skills to use addressing pain, weakness, wounds, etc... often needing to be creative due to our limited supplies. No xray, MRI, or CT so our medical screening and assessments were important. That trip also helped me realize that I (1) chose the right profession and now have a greater appreciation for what I can do as a physical therapist... (2) love traveling and need to experience more places and cultures... and (3) need more challenge and change in my life.
I am so excited that I am able to return to Panama for another trip (April 25-May3). I'm looking forward to seeing some familiar faces and meeting the new team. I am fundraising to help cover my personal costs for the trip (airfare, travel meds, food, transportation, etc) as well as additional funds to purchase medications, medical supplies, toiletries, etc that we will take with us. Any leftover money will go toward another trip later this year or next year. Physical donations that would also be helpful include: travel toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, etc), hair ties, unopened/not expired vitamins (child, adult, prenatal, capsule, liquid, gummy), cortisone cream, generic acetaminophen/ibuprofen (adult, child, pill, liquid), tennis balls in the plastic container (balls for soft tissue mobilization, container for modified breathing treatments), small children's toys (BASEBALLS, stickers, bubbles, beanie babies, hacky sacks, bracelets, anything easy to transport), braces/splints (wrist, ankle, knee, elbow, pregnancy SI belts), ace wraps, athletic tape/prewrap... if you have other ideas, let me know!