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.