Saturday, June 23, 2018


Sorry for the lapse last night—we were pretty tired! Three full major OR cases yesterday, and we finished up around 7pm or so… then grabbed supper and definitely headed for bed.  The three cases went really well and smoothly, but were quite time-consuming. 

Today, we went to round on our patients—they are all doing fairly well, although we are a little worried about sweet Rafaela—she seems to have lost more blood than we feel like we saw at the time of surgery, and we are watching her closely in case of a hidden (retroperitoneal) bleed.  Tonight she still looked quite stable, but please send up a little prayer for her expedited healing.  I’ll probably end up giving her a bag of my blood in the morning—thankfully, God has blessed me with O negative blood that the Red Cross won’t accept because of my frequent Guatemalan travels!

Then down in clinic we only had two patients—our sweet little 31 week preeclamptic lady (who is, unfortunately, looking more and more preeclamptic…) and a little teenager worried about her cycles.  Yesterday was a little more interesting at least—our last patient of the day (who waited from 8am to after 4pm to see us!) had a complaint of headaches and feeling “sweet” around her mouth!  Being gynecologists and all, we did our best to treat her ailments on the opposite end of her body from where we specialize!   Not sure we took care fully of the “feeling sweet around her mouth”, though?!?!

Today’s surgeries also went smoothly, and were really quite a lot of fun.  We had an older lady with a prolapse, then a younger lady with a more challenging uterus to remove vaginally.  I may or may not have stolen the second one from Kathryn a little 😉  They looked good this evening, so hopefully they will look great tomorrow and be ready for discharge before we leave on Monday.

Today was also Naomi’s birthday, so of course we had to go overboard for that!  We had the hospital staff help us surprise her with a cake and a piñata for a nice traditional Guatemalan celebration!  I thought it was pretty nice of us not to wake her up at 3am with firecrackers outside of her window, which is another quite traditional Guatemalan way of celebrating…

Here’s some pictures to try to keep things interesting…
Naomi being tortured by us trying to bust the piñata... (don't worry; we all go our turns!!)

A couple of views of the central marketplace in Chichi from a balcony where we enjoyed a hot chocolate this afternoon...

And an amazing photo Kathryn took in the restaurant where we went for a little night on the town tonight!  It was truly lovely...

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Day One

So as promised, we had a long day in clinic today—we only saw a total of 24 patients (that won’t sound like much to full-time docs at home!), but you have to keep in mind that most are brand-new patients and we are doing a full history and physical, our own urine testing, vitals, glucose testing, decision-making, often ultrasound, counseling, and dispensing of medicines!  It can take a while—especially when you are working in a second (Spanish) or even third (the Mayan Quiche language)!

The morning actually started with a brief devotional service that the hospital staff do every morning, which is beautiful.  Today, another Doctor and the Medical Director for the hospital preached/spoke briefly on Isaiah 40:29-31.  There could not have been a more perfect passage for us today!

29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

We definitely needed that before diving in—we went to the hospital around 8 this morning and didn’t finish until around 7 tonight, with about 1 15 minute lunch break.  Eeesh, right?  The worst part was that, of the 24 patients, we only scheduled THREE for surgery so far!  Usually by now we have scheduled at least 6 or 8, so we will see what the next days bring… 

Our favorite story from clinic—and our biggest prayer request!—is a patient who came in after being treated/followed by me for a little over a year now for infertility—She was sporting a suspiciously pregnant-looking belly, and totally joked with us when she saw the expectant/questioning look on my face that she “has been drinking a lot of beer”!!!  LOL—She, of course, is totally PREGNANT with a little BOY (which she just found out today)!!!  So. Very. Exciting!  However, I’m pretty worried that she likely has preeclampsia at about 31 weeks, so please be in prayer that she can stay healthy enough not to deliver too prematurely or run into bigger problems here!  We will see her again on Saturday…

I can’t really top that, and there really weren’t that many other good stories from today.  We did have a mother-daughter pair who both are convinced they have vaginal infections because they itch all the way from near their vaginas all the way down their legs—Pretty sure it’s just dry skin/eczema, ladies.  Why do the lady parts get blamed for everything?!

We did get a few pictures today to share, so here you go—I’m otherwise signing off for BED now, after a nice team dinner that we could treat our fantastic nursing help to this evening!

Actually, it may just be this group shot until I can download Kathryn’s pictures a little later:

From left to right: Mica, Kathryn, Heidi, Naomi, Alicia
AAaaaaaaactually, the internet is kinda acting up, so it may not be any pictures tonight!  I'll try to upload again in the morning... sorry!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Meet the Team!

So anyone that has read this blog in the last, well, EVER knows that I always try to do a quick “meet the team” post on the day of arrival. We are super-exhausted so this won’t be much, but here ya go for now:

Well, there’s me—Heidi Bell.  OB/GYN, although my current full-time job is in pharmaceutical research after burning out pretty hard in a busy academic practice in 2014.  My husband Matt and I had the amazing privilege of living down here in Guatemala and serving as medical missionaries full-time with the support of a group called Agape in Action out of Texas from 2006-08—the first two years out of my residency! That was intense, of course, but amazing—and I’ve had the extended privilege of traveling back down for a week every 3-4 months SINCE returning in 2008.  That means God has been faithful to PROVIDE for these trips for TEN YEARS now, y’all!  It’s been an amazing road.

I’m here with Dr. Kathryn Pool, who is a private practice OB/GYN in Columbus, Ohio.  We literally met for the first time today—this amazing woman responded to a post that I put out on a facebook group we are in together saying that I needed help for the June trip!  Came down here, sight unseen, trusting a person she had never met—and on top of that, shopped and scavenged tirelessly for a suitcase full of things that will be a huge blessing down here both in the OR and the homes of some missionary friends. 

Kathryn is here without her three teenaged daughters and husband, so please pray extra hard for everyone in her family this week!  My kids are up at “Camp Grandma and Grandpa” in Michigan for the week, so no worries there; they will probably notice we aren’t around by maybe next Monday or so… 

We are also sharing an apartment we typically stay in (owned by the hospital) with a young nurse named Naomi, from near Chicago in the US.  We will get to know her better over the next few days, but I’m afraid we are not great company right this minute!

Today started around 3 am for both of us, after very little sleep for either of us last night and a very long travel day—so we are pretty likely going to be in bed by 8pm local time and will hopefully crash long and hard!  Tomorrow will be a long day of a different sort, in the clinic—wish us luck!

We will also be joined tomorrow by two young nurses from Canilla, a smaller village we will visit later in the week where my missionary friends the Fickers live and work.  They will be furthering their OR training here at the hospital as we try to get the ORs up and running more regularly at the newly-built hospital out there—so pray that we don’t teach them bad habits!

Thanks for reading and for your prayers this week~ 

PS, You can read more about all of these missions at: (partners in the hospital-building)


Heidi and Kathryn