The Beautiful Witch

The Trip To The Mountain

"Goddess Maria floated once again in the creek, and she cast bad spells on us again."

"The beautiful witch raised a hand against us..."

Dr. Michael suddenly didn't know how to react in this belief the villagers firmly held on to. He wanted to laugh or deride on them for the annoyance it brought him, but he knew he couldn't. He would be charged with unethical issues, and he also knew well that these people held lawless fights when provoked.

"How long are these symptoms been going on?" Dr.Michael asked an elderly who complained of severe abdominal pain and loose bowel movement for already three days.

"Three days ago, doctor." The woman replied with a grimaced face while drops of sweat fell out on her temples.

"How do these all started?" He stood up to check her eyes, and her tongue then listened to her heartbeats before auscultating her chest and back.

"Goddess Maria is angry at us again," she answered, glints of fear were in her eyes as her thoughts seemed to drift back to an incident in the past.

"Mother, your skin and tongue are very dry, and your eyes are already sunken. Why do you take so long in seeking medical treatment? Do you know that severe dehydration can be fatal?" Dr. Michael shook his head in worry and disappointment while writing down his orders, ignoring her claims about the goddess.

Then, he handed the sheet of paper to a nurse beside him. "Start an IV right away and facilitate a stool exam, an electrolyte panel, and CBC."

The nurse then led the elderly towards a makeshift admission room.

"Next," Dr. Michael called for another patient and came a woman in her thirties.

"Doc, I'm also having diarrhea for three days now and some episodes of terrible abdominal pain." The woman clutched on to her stomach as she tried to fight through another wave of pain.

"How many times did you poop lately?"

"Seven times."

"How does this started?"

"The beautiful witch stirred our water source, doc."

"My goodness..." Dr. Michael couldn't help but finally expressed his disappointment over the claims he had heard for the twentieth time or so.

"For admission." He turned to the nurse again who looked back at him with a worried look.

"Doc, all our beds are already occupied."

Before Dr. Michael could answer, the cry of a baby interrupted them. The mother of the child could no longer wait for her name to be called since her child was already tossing up wildly in apparent pain. She got so scared that she was already trembling when she held up her daughter for him to see.

"What happened?" Dr. Michael's face could no longer be drawn out with a pen in his growing worries for these villagers.

"Diarrhea, doc."

"Tell me what happened. "

"Doc, the beautiful witch must have touched our water jars."

Dr. Michael hurriedly stood out and sprinted towards a private cubicle. He gritted his teeth in annoyance in hearing this claim multiple times already. This was too much! He was all fed up! Goddess Maria,  the beautiful witch... goodness!

Just what are they talking about? What has happened to these people?  Are they all uneducated to stick out to these superstitious beliefs?

He exhaled deeply to calm himself down before going back to the mother and child.

"Mama, be sure to catch a specimen for her stool exam."

Before he wrote down his orders, he called out the nurse again.

"Prioritize the baby. Insert a line as soon as possible."

"Doc, there's no more bed," reminded the nurse with a worried look.

"At least, have the mother seated on a chair and improvise a way to hang the child's IV."

Dr. Michael looked outside and saw that there were still many of them who were in the queue for a check-up. There were ten doctors on the team, and it was already afternoon.  But again, more than half of them were not accommodated yet.

Ninety percent of their problems were due to a loose bowel movement, medically termed as Acute Gastrointestinal Dehydration. The causative agent was a bacteria named Entamoeba hystolitica, an organism identified in the stool exam of these people.

He called up for an emergency meeting, and they gathered for a while in the health center's function room. The team consisted of ten physicians who specialized in different fields, such as pediatrics, internal medicine, and surgery. Also among them were dentists and optometrists.

This year, their choice of the place for their medical mission was primarily decided by Dr.Michael. In all the reports he had gathered, this village had the most cases of unresolved diseases and the onset of epidemics.

Two-thirds of the team were all Filipinos working in the US who agreed to visit their country every year for charity work. The rest were volunteers who wished to also share their blessings to the less fortunate people who had poor access to medical care due to distance or poverty.

They held free medical missions in different places, conducted reconstructive surgeries for cleft lip or palates and circumcisions for children. They also did minor surgeries such as breast mass excision or wound debridement. They also performed dressings for any type of wounds, especially those with a diabetic foot.

Circumcision is the process of removing the foreskin of the human penis, which is usually started in children at the age of five and upwards.

They also held dental check-ups and offered dental extractions with free medications. The optometrists also offered free reading glasses for those who had reading problems.

"What are we going to do now? We are already running out of IV's and medication," one of the doctors voiced out his concern.

"There are still many people outside and, perhaps, they are also infected with E. hystolitica."

Suddenly, one doctor burst out laughing. "Just because of the beautiful witch or goddess Maria."

Marilyn Lucero

Edited: 10.10.2019

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