About 5 weeks ago, I drove a 13-year-old to a private pediatricians clinic. The boy had been steadily declining in his condition of stiff joints and severe pain for 6 months. His parents had brought him to a local doctor who had said that he had rheumatic fever and prescribed some antibiotics and other things. The drugs had done nothing to improve his situation so far and he hadn't begun his school year in January because of his condition. The director of the children's afternoon program he is involved in asked me what Impact Ministries could do.

The doctor I took him to asked for a long series of tests to be done. The next week, we were told he likely has systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and she referred us to a specialist, the only one in Guatemala, in the capital 4 hours away. Systemic JIA is a very serious disease that attacks the tissue in joints and can cause irreparable damage to joints and the spine if not treated early on. I contacted the boy's sponsor and asked if he would be willing to help with the costs of the treatment and he said he was and has sent money.

Meanwhile, the boy's parents returned to the first doctor they had brought him to who had consistently misdiagnosed him for 6 months. This doctor said that the doctor I took him to was wrong after looking at the tests. They took the boy to an evangelist in Cobán where he was prayed for and liberated from a bad spirit, after which they believed he was healed. He wasn't healed, though he did seem in better spirits.

I managed to convince them to make an appointment with the specialist and they did for the following week. I checked in on them two days ago to see what the specialist said and ask how we could help with the costs of the treatment. They had decided not to go and instead had gotten a referral from their employer to another pediatrician in Cobán who said he just had an infection and prescribed erythromycin, an antibiotic that fights repiratory tract infections along with chlamydia, syphilis, acne and gonorrhea. He is almost finished his prescription. This is his third of fourth series of treatments that will do absolutely nothing to help his condition.

Again, I explained the severity of the disease and the importance of going to the capital. This is a difficult thing to do when they don't want to hear that it is serious and when other doctors are telling them it's just an infection. They agreed after 30 minutes of me telling them they were being irresponsible and careless to make another appointment with the specialist. We'll see if they go through with the trip to the capital or if they will wait another six months to see the JIA worsen and have their son in a wheelchair.


Sirdar said...

That is so sad that their parents can't see or don't believe that the specialist can help and that they believe the local "witch doctors". Hope they make the right choice and that you are able to help them come to the right choice.

Steffi said...

Yes,it´s so sad and I agree with Sirdar too!I enjoy to read in your blog.It´s always so interesting for me!Thanks and many greetings to your family!

Debby said...

They all must be really scared...and the unknown makes it even worse. They have probably been hoping that it isn't anything serious. I'm glad that you pushed them to atleast see what the specialist says....and how wonderful that his sponsor was willing to help! I sure hope it works out for the little guy. I ca't imagine being in pain that long. If they decide to bring him to the specialist will they bring him or will you??

dawn said...

How sad that this happens at the expense of the child's future. I suspect it happens with parents everywhere, but there are places, like where you are, that the barrier in understanding and distance to better medical care makes the situation worse. Keep up the good work you are doing there.

Zaak said...

I just wrote a long update and it didn't publish - rrg.

Basically, he saw the specialist this morning, I'll get him the treatment medication today or tomorrow.

Sirdar: These are actual medical doctors that have been so irresponsible.

Steffi: Thanks for your kind words. I've been enjoying your blog too.

Mom: Yeah, I'm happy to finally see some results. The sponsors are great. I look forward to the email I get to write him today.

Dawn. You're probably right, this is probably a very common reaction throughout the world.

Anonymous said...

Very frustrating for everyone involved. I will pray for him and his family and for you to be able to help as much as you can.