It was another morning at Clinica Ezell in Montellano, Guatemala, and another case of mistaken identity.
There had been a lot of that going around that week. Since I was doing all the preoperative exams, I had spent the most time with the patients. Many of them thought I was the Big Tamale, the Chief Gringo–The Top Gun. Once they were sedated and lying under the operating microscope waiting for their cataracts to be removed, Dr. C was merely the Upside-Down Man behind the mask.
In reality I was Goose to Dr. C’s Maverick, monitoring a million different things and make sure young Mav was constantly exposed to a “target-rich environment.”… Read the rest
It is approximately 1,436 miles as the plane flies from Huntsville, Alabama to Clinica Ezell in Guatemala, but “Señor Gruñon” was making me feel right at home.
I had once again traveled the road to Montellano, Guatemala to participate in an eye surgery medical mission (Code name: “Operación de Ojos Claros) in conjunction with health professionals representing Health Talents International and a team of students from Lipscomb University, the University of Alabama and the University of West Florida.
I was scooting across the poorly-lit, humid waiting room on a stool which reminded me of a shopping cart with one, misdirected rogue wheel and browsing for the biggest, ripest cataracts in all the land, the kind that literally block out the sun like a noonday eclipse.… Read the rest
The following is a talk I gave at the Health Talents International Breakfast, Lipscomb University, Nashville, TN on 7/2/10.
Thank you for your introduction, Marie.
I’m a little of a Johnny-come-lately when it comes to direct involvement with Health Talents International, but it’s certainly been on my radar for many years. We came to know Marie and Carl Agee through Cahaba Valley Church of Christ during my student days at the UAB School of Optometry in the late 80s. We were a mac & cheese, beans & weenies poor student family back then, especially after Sandy retired from being a full time CPA to take care of our newborn son.… Read the rest
As she thumbed through our passports with her practiced fingers and keyed the necessary data into her computer at Miami International Airport, the pleasant, Hispanic U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer was all smiles, the perfect blend of professionalism and “Welcome Home, Cherished and Valued Citizen” hospitality.
I was looking directly at her when she came to my name and her face suddenly darkened. She knitted her brow and tapped a few more times on her keyboard, double-checking, perhaps hoping to stem the flow of bad news that was appearing on her screen. Then she gave it to me, straight between the eyes.… Read the rest
I don’t always speak Spanish, but when I do, I prefer having Jose Rafael Rodriguez (aka, my translator “Danny”) somewhere in the immediate vicinity. I am neither the most interesting man in the world, nor the most bilingual.
I tried to memorize enough Spanish eye care phrases to get by on my recent trip to Guatemala, but despite my best efforts and intentions, I found myself leaning hard on Danny. I would usually start out the day doing a passable job-abre sus ojos (“open your eyes”), mira arriba (“look up”) –but as things got hot and busier and I became increasingly fatigued, I started to mangle my rote phrases more and more.… Read the rest
“What do you want me to do for you,” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
–Mark 10: 51
Like Blind Bartimaeus, all Marta wanted was to be able to see. She was no whiny yuppie who would be satisfied with nothing less than 20/20 post-LASIK. She just wanted good enough.
Good enough to see the faces of her family, especially the grandchildren. Good enough to take in the vibrant green of the Guatemalan countryside and the eye-catching reds, blues, oranges and yellows of the local marketplace where her friends would gather to sell their handcrafted wares.… Read the rest
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
I once had a war hero sitting in my exam chair who had survived all manner of jungle ambushes but was dying from an inoperable brain tumor.… Read the rest
(This is Part 2 of a series on our recent trip to Clinica Ezell in Montellano, Guatemala. Part 1 can be found here. The following are remarks that I delivered to the HTI Eye/Ortho Team on March 17, 2010 during evening devotional).
First off, thank you Cameron for having my back tonight. He loaned me his Bible after I forgot mine. I didn’t want to stand up here and scroll through my Bible app on my iPhone–I thought that would look, uh, “unprofessional” (pointing to my Bama ball cap and scrubs).
I just want to clear up one more thing before I get started.… Read the rest
You don’t travel into the Valley of the Shadow with someone and then back out again without being changed forever. The Reaper’s sickle passes so close to your own skin that you feel its wind. It cuts, and if you’re standing near enough, you bleed.… Read the rest
I literally groaned when my clerk handed me the plastic reference card to place on my houndstooth lanyard. If you work for the government or a large corporation, you know what I’m talking about.
Those lovely little laminated jewels have all the answers to every conceivable scenario or crisis. Surrounded by a 10-foot wall of flames? No problem. Just remember–“R-A-C-E” (Remove, Activate, Confine, Extinguish) and “P-A-S-S” (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep).
Of course, by the time you fumble through them, find the right one and read it, the point is moot because now you’re soot.
“Don’t worry,” he said as he watched me reach around and rub my neck in anticipation of the extra weight. … Read the rest