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Photo by Teva Corwin (2018 Summer Photo Contest Entry), Peru 4-Week.

“¡Hay No Más!

About a month ago, we went on an excruciating but also refreshing hike to Cancha Chancha, a small town located on a chilly mountain as high as around four thousand meters. My fatigue was removed the moment I spotted a little boy sitting on a wooden swing, his legs casually dangling in the air. I approached him, and with his delightful consent, I started gently pushing the swing, watching its pathway formed into a smooth curve. I was so enchanted by the boy’s joyous laughter early on that his pleading for me to stop pushing was submerged in my utter obliviousness, like a stone tossed and vanished into a boundless ocean. Until I heard his uncontrolled weeping that I finally realized the words he was calling out were, in fact, “¡hay no más!” I panicked and slowed down the swing as fast as I could. Once it arrived at the static state, I escaped the scene, feeling overwhelmingly nauseous about what had happened to myself and the boy.

From then on, I have become alerted to this phrase and have determined to never make the same mistake ever again. However, unfortunately, despite my heightened awareness, I was still involved in a few occasions where I failed to identify the usage of “¡hay no más!” At Yanapasun, many patients share medical histories of cerebral trauma that permanently inhibits their mobility or articulacy. I am nervous to work with patients who display the latter symptoms, fearing that the unpleasant encounter in Cancha Cancha will reoccur.

And it did come back to haunt me. Those were the times when my patients attempted to communicate “¡hay no más!” to me when stretching exercises got too physically demanding or the pads used for heat therapy began painfully burning on their hardened skins. I unintentionally omitted their requests and had to rely on my mentor Oscar’s reminder to notice and remedy these “invisible” issues. Indeed, the most significant challenge for me is that similar phrases to “¡hay no más!” seem to not have profoundly imprinted on my mind: I cannot distinguish them consistently in times of need. This horrifies me: What irreversible consequences can eventually come out of my inability to overcome this challenge, not only in the present but also in the future?

The problem is awaiting to be solved, and I have been seeking assistance. My mentor Oscar is a reliable support system: I inquired him about useful words in therapist-patient conversations and wondered if he could occasionally test me on performing medical tasks that require extreme caution. Aside from working with Oscar, I have also initiated an individual project — the personalization of each patient’s treatment to target their mental health needs. During this process, I will have to learn to demonstrate patience and thoughtfulness so that I can engage in in-depth conversations with my patients and record their information as accurately as possible. I am confident that these simultaneous practices can aid me in combating my fear of misunderstanding and reducing the amount of mistakes that I can make in this particular situation.

From a positive perspective, I am grateful that all these encounters in Cancha Cancha and Yanapasun have taught me the two-way hazard of unresolved miscommunication if inadequate attention is given to even a single phrase. In this ongoing process of translating my critical reflection into action of change, I have turned my fear into motivators for self-exploration and have found myself to be more open-minded to different types of mistakes, which, I hope, will collectively contribute to the cultivation of a well-informed global citizen in the near future.