Nelson's Website

A Documentation of My Experiences

Medical Trip - Nicaragua 2011

July 25th

   I was terrible about getting my website up to date during the trip, but here are some notes from each day that I was in Nicaragua. I apologize for the delay.

May 20th

    We have landed in Managua, but it is late so there was not much we could see. The streets seem to resemble those of Rio though perhaps a bit cleaner. The lady in charge of us seems very worried about the water which I hadn't expected despite the warnings ISL gave us. I had thought they were being overprotective.

May 21st

   Today was a series of lectures though I am still uncertain of what it is we are doing. They haven't really told us how we are seeing the patients, where we will see them, or how things will work. Perhaps tomorrow.

   We got to go out for dinner as a group today so I got to see a bit more of the city. We are staying in Masaya which is a smaller city a bit outside of Managua. The place is a lot more rural than it appeared yesterday. It resembles Brazil at times, though the construction of buildings is sometimes just scraps put together. There appears to be less graffiti than Brazil though.

   After dinner we went to the mall to get some gelato and the mall is very similar to those in Brazil. Quite a bit smaller, but similar appearance and outdoor nature. It resembles a US mall though it is outdoors with the exception of the individual shops.

May 22nd

   Today we walked around a community and went house by house in search of those in need of medical attention. We would tell the members of the house the dates and times of the clinic. The first day will be designated only for those we deem in need of care while the next two will be open to anyone.

   My Spanish is nothing more than a mix of Portuguese and Italian making it quite poor. However, I found that I actually know some of the questions to ask when a person is having problems. My class material is sticking :)

   The people are extremely welcoming and are always smiling. They do not have much at all. For many, their living rooms are doubled with another room such as a bedroom or kitchen and their seats are just plastic chairs which they stack up when they are not using them. Things we take for granted such as our own bed is a reality far removed from their own. I wish we could do more.

May 23rd

   Today was our first day with patients. I have a lot to learn. I barely got 2 patients' diagnosis correct and didn't know which medication to give without looking at the handouts we had be given. I wasn't too far off though and perhaps after a few weeks I will be better.

   One of the conditions that I did diagnose correctly was a hernia. The young boy only had one testicle that was down while the other was in the lower abdomen. When the doctor pushed down along the path the testicle takes to fall, the second testicle would emerge only to return again when the pressure was relieved. The doctor explained that the testicle drops after 6 months in the womb and a muscle closes when the testicle enters the sac. The patient's muscle did not close causing the testicle to be able to return to the abdomen. Surgery was required to close the muscle.

May 24th

   The doctor that watches over us during the clinic told us last night that he was going to quiz us today. We weren't sure he was being serious, but he definitely was. The expectations and "homework" that we are doing here will do great things for preparing me for the future.

   We also learned and practiced sutures today. We had sutures kits and we practiced on sponges. All those models from my youth have come in handy for my fine motor skills.

May 25th

   I now see the usefulness of problem based learning. Being able to see the cases and learn about the condition and diseases that way really helps you make the diagnosis on future patients. As each day of the clinic goes on, my diagnosis are getting more and more accurate. I know what to look for now. It is much easier than trying to understand a description in a book or even a picture.

   Today I got to learn how to find a baby's heart beat and how to determine how the baby is oriented. It was an awesome experience and I am so glad the doctor that is with us is a pediatrician. I am learning so much from him. For example, the fetus doesn't face the front or the back of the mother until it is time to be born. I also learned how to estimate the length of the pregnancy based on the length of the mother's belly.

   Just like the previous days, I continue to improve in my abilities. Last night a couple of just worked on how to find the pulse, blood pressure, and listen to the lungs so that we could be even better tomorrow.

   Today we also got to go to an active volcano, Volcano Masaya. It was huge and we couldn't see the bottom no matter how close to the edge we got. I have some rocks to bring home.

May 26th

   Today was our first day of recreation. We wend zip lining in the canopy of trees. It was amazing! We also went to a local coffee farm and tried some of their beans. Both of the events were near another volcano named Volcano Mombacho. I am bringing back some rocks from that volcano too.

   We then went to lunch and on a boat tour of lake Cocibolca in Grenada. The lake is huge and is the only fresh water where great white sharks are found. It was gorgeous and several small islands were all over the lake. They had houses and restaurants on them. Several were homes of the rich families of Nicaragua and some from other countries. One island was called monkey island and when we came up to it a monkey called Lucy jumped on our boat and walked around us. There were loads of amazing trees all over which I want to try to grow; Poponjoche, Ceibo, Malinche, and Madrono.

   We then visited a craft store which reminded me of those in Brazil I visited with my grandmother. I got to try a fruit called Mamon which is a bit sour and has a huge pit. It was a green shell which comes off very easily once it has a tear.  

   At the end of the day we moved from our hotel to a lawyer's house. He is the lawyer of ISL in Nicaragua. He is the only US citizen lawyer in Nicaragua and appears to have done some amazing work judging by the signed letter from President Reagan hung in the room. We ate dinner at the house and for dessert we had a fruit called Icaco. It is slightly pink and has a shell inside the fruit which protects the pit.

May 27th

   Coming soon 

May 26th - written on the actual day

   I apologize to those who have been trying to keep up with me on this webpage, but internet was not as available as I had thought it would be. For the next week I will have more use of the internet and will be updating the webpage more often.

   Thus far we have had several seminars from sutures to natural alternative medicines. We have done a home visit for a community which means that we go around to different houses and inform people that the clinic will be open and give tickets to those who are in most need to jump to the front of the line. We have also had 2.5 days of clinic in our first community and starting tomorrow we have the house visits for the second community.

   In just these few days I have learned suturing techniques, medications and their uses, the basics behind the Nicaraguan medical system, how to calculate medicine dosages, and countless other priceless information. I cannot wait for the next several weeks and the multitude of knowledge that will come with it. 


    To begin, the purpose of this webpage is to introduce myself and document the medical trip I will be participating in. I am also requesting some financial assistance (sponsoring) for the trip, so if you can, please help me.

    From May 20th - June 16th, 2011 I will be in Nicaragua participating in a medical trip with the International Service Learning (ISL). The first step of the trip is to raise the money needed to go on the trip. In this case that means ~$4,200, which includes 2 meals a day, transportation to and from the airport, airplane tickets, and several expenses of the program. Any help raising this money would be greatly appreciated.

    I have opened up an account with Good Samaritan Missions (GSM) so that those of you who would like to send money through an internet site can. Note that 15% of donations go to the GSM which, among other things, funds medical supplies such as those I will be using on the trip. If you wish to donate straight to me, you can do that by mailing me at:

2911 Crestwood Ln, Columbia, MO 65203

    Thank you in advance to all those who donate.