Category Archives: Word of the Week

Baby Cheeks & Folk Medicine Practices (A Story about Cachetes)

 

IMG_9973

Here’s a Guatemalan baby being carried on his mother’s back. Don’t you love the colorful fabrics?

“Aw, Tía Elena, look at that baby!” Emily said. Together, aunt and niece watched the little fellow being carried through the mall.

“Those cheeks!” Tía Elena smiled. “Now we might call those cachetes.”

Emily had to grin. As a Spanish-English interpreter, her Tía Elena couldn’t help dropping in a little language lesson now and then. “Cachetes, huh?”

, and it looks like his mamá took good care of them, too.” She stopped in front of a mirror and gave a silly smile. “Kind of like mine. No sagging cheeks for me!”

Emily giggled at her aunt’s antics.

“You can laugh,” Tía Elena said, “but if my mamita had stood me up on my little baby feet too early, my cheeks might have ‘fallen’ and been saggy for life!”

Emily raised an eyebrow. “Seriously?”

“Well, that’s what Mamá thought until a doctor kindly told her not to worry about it much. And look at me now!” She gave her cheeks one last playful pat before hauling Emily off to her favorite shoe store.

That night, Emily decided to check out Tía Elena’s story. Sure enough, her smartphone delivered  the answer: her tía hadn’t made it up! Hey, this Understanding the Guatemalan Patient looks pretty cool! Maybe I could get it for Tía Elena for Christmas. She’d like it. And it would even be small enough to fit in her huge-but-almost-full purse! Emily added the book to her Amazon cart and proceeded to checkout.

Looking for a gift for a medical interpreter or a language lover? Full of interesting words and folk medicine/cultural tidbits, Understanding the Guatemalan Patient is sure to bring hours of education and fun. And with our “BOGO” (Buy-1-Get-One) special offer through midnight (CDT) on Monday, October 19, 2015, there’s even more reason to check it out today! (No coupon code required.)

 

A little tip for those serving Guatemalan babies and their families…

One glance at the baby makes the diagnosis obvious. “Tiene ictericia,” you tell the Guatemalan mother. Bewilderment covers her face. You carefully explain the causes and treatments for jaundice. All of a sudden, the mother smiles and says, “Pues, es como amarillo, verdad?” Amarillo? Yellow? Of course, that could make sense. That’s when you remember the pocket-sized book you stuffed in your bag a while ago. You find it and look through the English-Spanish section. There it is:

jaundice amarillo 

Now it’s your turn to smile. “Sí, es como amarillo,” you confirm. As you answer a couple of the mother’s questions, you make a mental note to look through that Understanding the Guatemalan Patient tonight.

A Bilingual Midwife’s Joys

motherbabyOn her way back to her clinic, Sofia smiles. Nothing could compare to seeing a new mother caring for her healthy baby in her own home after you’ve spent months working as a team and just a few days ago made it through the delivery. Experiences like that top Sofia’s “why-I-love-being-a-midwife” list. If only all her work weeks could start off this way!

Along with that joy, a midwife-in-training is along for the ride. She’s bright-eyed and itching to get into things.

Sofia decides to redeem the drive time. “See that little spiral-bound book peeking out of my bag?” she asks.

“The blue one?”

“Yeah. Go ahead and take a look at it. You’re going to need one for yourself.”

The trainee retrieves the book and looks it over. Understanding the Guatemalan Patient: A Glossary of Spanish Medical Terms and Folk Medicine This looks interesting, but, um, I did take medical Spanish in school. Did I say something wrong with the last client?”

“Oh, no, you did well! It’s just that, as you’ve learned, many of the women we serve in this area are from Guatemala. Some of them, like the mother we just visited. speak what I call ‘dictionary Spanish’. Others speak their own variety. Sometimes they grew up speaking Spanish as a second language after a Mayan dialect.”

“Can you give me an example?”

“I think you’ll see what I mean with our clients this afternoon.” Sofia grins. “Oh, and remember, as a midwife, sometimes your clients look to you for advice on all sorts of things.”

At the beginning of Sofia’s visit with her next client – a young mother from rural Guatemala accompanied by her cousin – nothing unusual happens. A few unique words are used, but the trainee catches on quickly. Sofia begins to wonder if she anticipated too much. Then her client says,

Mi hermana me estaba preguntando si usted tendría consejo para ella acerca de su bebé que tiene rozadura.”

Sofia glances at her trainee who discreetly raises an eyebrow.

Rozadura es cómo pañalitis, ¿verdad?” Sofia questions, even though she knows the answer. Both are used to mean diaper rash.

The client smiles and nods, “Sí, es como pañalitis.”

Sofia continues her conversation. Later that afternoon, the midwife-in-training comes to her looking a little less bright-eyed. “I’ve got to admit,” she says, “starting with that first office visit and continuing all afternoon, I’ve found out I don’t know Spanish as well as I thought I did. At least not the way these ladies speak it. And then there are all the folk medicine ideas I’ve never even heard of!”

Sofia’s encouraging nature kicks in. “Don’t worry; I think you’re gonna do great! Learning a language is a lifelong adventure. At least it seems like it has been for me.”

“Well,” she says with the smile in her eyes back on, “I know one thing; I’m going to buy myself one of those books!”

As the midwife-to-be heads back to work, Sofia smiles. Yes, training others is one more joy of this job.

Do you know a midwife who serves Hispanic women or would you like your own copy of Understanding the Guatemalan Patient? Check it out today on Amazon!

On a Medical Mission Team: Understanding Mayan Spanish Speakers

IMG_1209

You’ve dreamed of this day. You’ve studied and saved for this day. Now here it is: your first day seeing patients with a medical mission team in Guatemala.

The still-cool morning breezes waft through the metal screens over the windows of the concrete building. You smile at your first patient, a man from the campo who looks like he has labored long throughout his life, and begin a conversation. Since you’ve studied Spanish for several years now, your team decided you don’t need one of the in-demand interpreters as much as other team members, so you’re on your own for this conversation. Shouldn’t be hard, right?

Then your patient says, “Me duele mi canilla.” 

Your optimistic thoughts screech to a halt. Canilla? You’ve never heard that word! So much for those years of studying. The way he set his worn hand on his leg makes you think there’s some connection, but you want to know…and you don’t want your ignorance to make him feel uncomfortable.

You calmly look around. No interpreters nearby.

Then you remember that little blue book your dad gave you when he dropped you off at the airport. “Might come in handy,” he said.

You pull it out of the bag on the table next to you. It’s a glossary. Where are the “c” words? Oh, yay, there it is! 

canilla – leg, lower leg

You look your patient in the eye with a smile and say, “¿Se duele su canilla?” You set your hand on your leg like he had. “¿Cómo su pierna?

¡Sí!” He nods his head vigorously. “Me duele mi canilla.”

Oh, good! Now you can continue with your consultation.

Later you get a chance to ask one of the translators about canilla. He laughs. “Canilla is like an animal’s leg,” he says. “People, especially those who grew up speaking a Mayan language and speak Spanish as a second language, use it for a person’s leg, too.”

Ah, now you understand even better. And maybe tonight you’ll look through more of those words from that Understanding the Guatemalan Patient. It seems like it really might come in handy.

Gearing up for a medical mission trip to Guatemala or know someone who is? Maybe you’ll want your own copy of Understanding the Guatemalan Patient. Check it out on Amazon today!

Cachetes

 

IMG_9973

Here’s a Guatemalan baby being carried on his mother’s back. Don’t you love the colorful fabrics?

“Aw, Tía Elena, look at that baby!” Emily said. Together, aunt and niece watched the little fellow being carried through the mall.

“Those cheeks!” Tía Elena smiled. “Now we might call those cachetes.”

Emily had to grin. As a Spanish-English interpreter, her Tía Elena couldn’t help dropping in a little language lesson now and then. “Cachetes, huh?”

, and it looks like his mamá took good care of them, too.” She stopped in front of a mirror and gave a silly smile. “Kind of like mine. No sagging cheeks for me!”

Emily giggled at her aunt’s antics.

“You can laugh,” Tía Elena said, “but if my mamita had stood me up on my little baby feet too early, my cheeks might have ‘fallen’ and been saggy for life!”

Emily raised an eyebrow. “Seriously?”

“Well, that’s what Mamá thought until a doctor kindly told her not to worry about it much. And look at me now!” She gave her cheeks one last playful pat before hauling Emily off to her favorite shoe store.

That night, Emily decided to check out Tía Elena’s story. Sure enough, her smartphone delivered  the answer: her tía hadn’t made it up! Hey, this Understanding the Guatemalan Patient looks pretty cool! Maybe I could get it for Tía Elena’s birthday. She’d like it. And it would even be small enough to fit in her huge-but-almost-full purse! Emily added the book to her Amazon cart and proceeded to checkout.

Looking for a gift for a medical interpreter or a language lover? Full of interesting words and folk medicine/cultural tidbits, Understanding the Guatemalan Patient is sure to bring hours of education and fun. Check it out today! 

 

When a “vulture” entered your conversation…

Summer – at long last! You’ve been so ready to be done with your thick textbooks and exams, and you finally are…at least for a few glorious months. Right now you’re daydreaming about your upcoming trip to Guatemala. You can’t wait to go back. In fact, you’re going through medical school so that you can serve Latin Americans with your hard-won skills.

You start doodling out a packing list. After all, you learned some things on your trip last year. Might as well benefit from them!

Hey, where is that book, the little blue one that your Spanish-interpreter aunt gave you before your last trip? You scour your shelves – or rather the piles on your shelves. (Your organizational skills haven’t recovered from the “finals flurry” yet.) Ah-hah! There it is. Understanding the Guatemalan Patient: A Glossary of Spanish Medical Terms and Folk MedicineSettling in your overstuffed chair, you flip through the pages. Wow, does it bring back memories! Like that time with the “vulture”…

It was the second day of your first medical mission trip to Guatemala. You were seeing patients under the supervision of an MD with a Spanish interpreter nearby. Your little patient looked to be about five and was having a hard time of it. The interpreter was talking through the symptoms with the mother when a funny word caught your ears. The mom, who was clearly of Mayan descent, was saying something about “zope“.

Since your aunt is a Spanish interpreter Spanish is woven into your life pretty well. But “zope”? Doesn’t that mean “vulture”?

That’s when you remembered that your aunt gave you that book that’s supposed to deal with slang expressions. You pluck it out of your pocket and flip to the “z” words. Yep, there it is: zope.

“So he’s been vomiting?” you ask.

The translator nods. “Yes, how did you know?”

“Well, I speak a little Spanish, but -” You hand her the book. “- my aunt gave me this.”

She skims a couple of pages. “We should have these here.”

“Maybe I can get some to you,” you say with a smile.

Yeah, that was a fun memory. Your Spanish is a lot better this year, but you’re definitely taking this book along again. In fact, maybe you’ll get a couple of extras. Why not check it out on Amazon? Your other team members should have them as a recuerdo if nothing else.

Sometimes it’s the little things…

Some days in your clinic are just plain peanut-butter-and-jelly days – nothing particularly brain stretching, no cases that you could find in Hunter’s Tropical Medicine, no life-saving measures.

The fact that some of your patients are Hispanic, many of Guatemalan or Mexican ancestry, and speak little English adds some salsa to your tortilla chips though. Like the case that just hobbled through your door…

You can’t get more routine than an ingrown toenail, can you? Thankfully, a medical interpreter is handy to help you communicate with this patient and his wife. However, when the interpreter says “uña encarnada“, your patients blink without recognition.

You have your own copy of the Stedman Bilingüe Diccionario de Ciencias Médicas at home – good healthcare providers are life-long learners, right? – so you know that’s the standard medical terminology. But you decide to go out on a limb.

Uñero,” You say.

The wife’s face brightens. “¡Hay, sí! Esta es la palabra que usamos.”

That starts a fast-paced side conversation between them and the interpreter while you set to work, relieving the poor man of his simple but noticeably painful malady.

I’d better give the interpreter a card for Understanding the Guatemalan Patient before she leaves, you decide. After all, sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference.