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“There’s an Animal in My Stomach”

This true story took place at Hands of Mercy, Taxisco, Santa Rosa A 32-year old man, Jorge, came to the medical clinic for the first time, arriving at around noontime. He was told that the nurse couldn’t attend to him that day, because there were already too many patients, all of whom had taken the allotted numbers for the day. There would be no time for a patient visit with him today, so he would have to come back tomorrow.

“Please, I’ve walked three hours to get here.” The nurse felt sorry for him, so she asked what was wrong. “I need help - I have an animal in my stomach.” Thinking it might be a simple case of worms or parasites, she told him to wait around a few hours, and she would make sure he got attention before the clinic closed for the day.

At the end of a very busy day, it was Jorge’s turn, finally. He had waited patiently, but with a very worried look on his face. The nurse did some preliminary checking and questioning. Hmmm... no fever, no diarrhea, no cramps or pain. Finally she asked him, “What makes you think you have an animal in your stomach?”. With a serious look on his face, he hesitantly lifted up his shirt and pointed to his belly button. “Watch closely”, he said, and you will see the animal move around. There, see, it’s moving again.”

Sure enough, there was a quick movement every second or so and it did seem as thought there was an “animal” moving just under the surface. However, the “animal” turned out to be harmless.

The truth was that he was so thin, so undernourished, that his pulse was noticeable and caused the not-perfectly formed belly button to move. That was all it was. That was why Jorge had made the three-hour walk to the clinic.

The nurse didn’t want to send him away without giving him something for his troubles, so she gave him a month’s supply of vitamins and told him he must eat more food.

That seemed to make Jorge happy and he thanked her very much. Then he turned and started his three-hour walk back to his home in the mountains secure in the knowledge that the “animal in his stomach” would no longer be a threat.

-end-

Hands Of Hope Ministries

Hands of Hope is a medical mission to the rural indigenous poor of Guatemala.

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