Monday, November 19, 2012

Peace Corps Story Slam: A Honduran Miracle

On November 17, 2012, The Brooklyn-Queens Association of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers had a story slam at Two Moon - Art and Coffee House in Brooklyn. The photos above are me telling my story Honduran Miracle and below is the story.

Honduran Miracle
Titi was my neighbor when I lived Sonaguera, Honduras. His appearance was a bit strange.  His head was slightly asymmetrical.  One day while we were walking around town, I asked him, "When you were younger did you have health problems?"  He replied, "Si hombre," with the emphasis that means, yeah, without a doubt.  He proceeded to tell me the following story:

When he was nine he fell out of a mango tree and suffered a serious blow to his left eye socket.  He pointed out a good-sized scar running through his left eyebrow.  Several years later, when he was 15, without warning, he began hemorrhaging from his nose and the left side of his face began to swell up.  He was taken to the hospital in LaCeiba, two hours away, the third biggest city in Honduras.  They couldn't diagnose him, so they sent him on to San Pedro Sula, the second biggest city.  There, they said he had a tumor and attempted surgery.  However, in the middle of the operation they decided they couldn't proceed and stitched him up.  He has a scar about six inches long on his throat below his left jaw.  He had been in the hospital in San Pedro Sula for six months when he was transferred to Hospital Escuela, the big teaching hospital in Tegucigalpa, the capitol of Honduras.  Two surgeons from the The United States were coming to examine him and another boy whom the Hondurans considered untreatable.  The North American doctors said that surgery might be possible in the US, maybe in Panama or Costa Rica, maybe even in Cuba, but not in Honduras.  They said he had two or three months to live.
   It is not clear to me how or why but another doctor gave a second opinion.  She had studied natural medicine in Japan.  She said he should drink a tea brewed from the rinds of pineapple, ground "pimienta gorda" (I think this is all spice.), and honey.  She prescribed drinking it several times a day for six months.  The pineapple rinds were for cleansing, the pimienta gorda to stop the bleeding and the honey would act as an anti-inflammatory.  Four months later, not only was Titi still alive, but the swelling was mostly gone and he had stopped hemorrhaging from his nose.  The natural medicine doctor said he could stop drinking the tea.  The other doctors said he didn't need an operation.  At the time he told me the story, he was twenty-seven.
   Later, I went back to his house because he wanted to show me a photograph of himself when he was in the hospital.  In the picture the left side of his head, from eyebrow to chin, was at least twice as large as the right.  Titi’s parents, Don Rodolfo and Doña Lola, joined us to look at the picture.  They retold the story.  Don Rodolfo said he knew the president of Honduras at the time.  The president worked on getting a visa and money for Titi to go to the US for the operation.  During this waiting period he started drinking the tea and got better.
   I asked if they thought it was the tea or a miracle.  Doña Lola said, "Clearly it was a miracle.  I prayed every day."  Don Rodolfo said that when the doctors predicted that Titi had two months to live he told them, "But you’re not God and God will decide how long my son lives."  Then Don Rodolfo turned to Titi and said, "Did you tell him about the time you got your dick stuck in your zipper.  Now, that was really serious."

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