My role(s)

My role at J33 Medical's clinics change on a regular basis

If you're wondering what I am doing here, I am, too.

Some of our team members have obvious jobs, like Charlene Barnes being a nurse means her taking the lead on caring for patients. Don't be fooled, though into thinking that getting the right treatment for someone means she is just putting some pills into a bag and sending a patient on their way. She is a mighty prayer warrior as well as an awesome hugger (though those have been reduced recently). Sometimes that prayer or hug (or both) is needed more than the pills.

Others on our team have gravitated toward tasks and performed them flawlessly, like Tabitha has with the pharmacy. She saw something that so needed organizing and jumped in with great joy. Tabitha's work stands out so much I think it inspires others who work with us (like Peter and Donna Pittman) to do things similarly.

Then there's me: the jack of all trades (and, perhaps, master of none). Over the past year of clinics I have:

Been in charge of crowd control and done a head count

Done minor triage, which is taking height and weight

Translated (my Spanish still needs work and thankfully I don't do it often)

Prayed with people after seeing a nurse

Entertained children

Helped hand out food

Worked the pharmacy

"Hold up!" I hear you saying, "You said Tabitha takes care of the pharmacy." Yes, she does, but let me pull back the curtain a bit on what we do sometimes. A couple of weeks ago (and again this week) we worked a clinic with Pastor Alex (who doesn't translate) along with Donna and Peter. When this happens, Peter, a bi-lingual Guatemalan who usually works the Pittman's pharmacy, translates for Charlene. Tabitha slides over to help Donna, who speaks Spanish well enough to treat patients with just a bit of help from Peter now and then. That leaves me to work the pharmacy for Charlene and Peter.

Oh boy!

I was so nervous the first time this happened. Tabitha gave me a 15-second rundown of everything then assured me that most of what Charlene uses would be in the four bins up front. No problem.

Then the first two patients sat down, talked to Charlene and Peter, and I heard words I hadn't heard at a clinic before: Do we have stool softener?

Fortunately we were in La Gomera, which is near the Pacific coast and lower in altitude than our home. That meant a hot day (felt like 107 at around 11 a.m.) so the sweat pouring off my forehead immediately after she asked, could be chalked up to heat.

Tabitha said I could ask for help whenever I wanted because she was just 15 feet away. I imagine she didn't expect the first cry from me coming so quickly. I do believe, though, that she was as surprised as me by the request. Turns out when you live in a hot climate and don't hydrate properly, constipation happens. We ended up going through a whole bottle of colace by the end of the day.

While Peter and Charlene work, I am actually grabbing something I know: the Bible.

After that rocky start, and multiple requests for items not in those front four bins, I fell into a good rhythm and probably earned at least a C for my efforts, if my wife, a former teacher, handed out grades. I did somehow misplace the antacids but luckily we didn't need many.

The other memorable moment came as we were packing up. I thought I heard Donna ask Tabitha "where did you find such a great man." As proof that my hearing is going bad, when I tried to confirm what Donna asked, she broke into laughter (and still does when it's brought up) not because I was so far off but because of Tabitha's answer: "The first few weeks I wanted to die, but now I'm getting used to it." The real question was "how are you doing since you couldn't find your medication?"

Since that first day, I have learned a couple of things from watching her: carry a couple of pens and Sharpees (everybody seems to have them on hand), also know where the little baggies are (besides Tabitha's pocket).

I'm happy that I can help with the pharmacy, but I can say this without any hesitation (as I would in most situations): I don't want to do this without Tabitha.

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