One glance at the baby tells you the diagnosis. “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? 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:
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.