Southern Indiana Living

NOV-DEC 2018

Southern Indiana Living magazine is the exclusive publication of the region, offering readers a wide range of coverage on the people, places and events that make our area unlike any other. In SIL readers will find beautiful photography, encouraging s

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Nov/Dec 2018 • 40 H aving recently returned from a short-term medical mission trip to eastern Ukraine, my mind is racing in a hundred directions. I am still feeling the effects of the adrenaline surge that comes from the return to routine after a wonderful experience. I am aware that we live in a society of superlatives. "Top ten" this, "most amazing" that. Everything is one of the best or one of the worst from some arbitrary ranking scale. I don't want to call this a "life-changing" experience. At least, not yet. Only time will tell if our travel and experience with villagers and Ukrainians changes my life. But I do wonder who benefits the most. I know I have been impacted in a magnificent (there is another superlative) way. The chance to take something that I do every day and offer it to people in dire circumstances was a great opportu- nity. Someone else did the organizational work. Someone else took care of supplies and logistics. Someone else scheduled meals and travel. All I had to do was show up with my skill-set and offer advice. And I also received praise from the villagers. Undeserved praise, at that. When they would offer "Thank you" and "Please come back," all I could do was convey to them that we would try. My psychological bank of purpose was filled up. The villagers and townspeople re- ceived some benefit. The medications we gave them would allow them to di- vert the cost of those meds to other basic needs, such as paying for a few meals for a month or two while not having to spend money at the pharmacy. The advice we gave (hopefully) bolstered their opinion of their local doctors and medical teams. We made every attempt to convince them that the care they were receiving was good, they just needed to follow through with the treatment plans and see their lo- cal healthcare clinicians. But probably, the most important thing we did was listen. Even if for a few minutes, we were some- one new who would listen to their stories. In a setting where everyone has a horrible story of lost family, bombed homes, lack of money or other resources to procure daily necessities, no one wants to hear another sad story. We were able to listen and let people tell us the details, en- gaging (if through interpreters) with the patients and, because we did not have to use computer screens to document the en- counter, we could look them in the eyes. They seemed to lighten up while telling their stories, no matter how horrific they sounded to us. It was old to them, but new to us. We would hang on every word. And everybody wants to be heard. The local church members, pastors Making a Difference Who Benefits the Most? Story and Photos by Dr. Reggie Lyell Reprinted with permission from the blog Random Middle Age Musings

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