Life-Giving: Give an Alternative Gift this season that keeps on giving, as a single gift or a monthly pledge.Your gift will be acknowledged to the receiver with a beautiful card.

Here are three stories about patients who have chronic illnesses, but unlike diabetic and hypertensive patients, they need very special care:

Chapter One

Lupe is 66 years old.  She lives with her daughter and grandchild in a small house in Nueva Vida.  She suffers from type 2 diabetes and hypertension, but she also had an abdominal hernia.

Last January, she was attacked by a dog and fell down.  She popped open her hernia and her intestines came through…even though her skin was intact.  She waited eight days to come to the clinic when she started running a fever and had severe pain.  We did an ultrasound and sent her to the hospital where they did surgery taking out part of her intestines.  Now she needs special colostomy bags…which we cannot always get.

Chapter Two

Felipe is 53 years old.  He was diagnosed with advanced Parkinson ’s disease five years ago.  He too has type 2 diabetes and hypertension as well.  He lives with his wife who cares for him and cooks and sells bunuelos, a Nicaraguan dish that is fried yucca dough with honey.  She has a difficult time caring for him as the disease progresses, and they are so, so poor.

Three years ago he could talk…now he cannot because of all the tremors.  We give him medication for the Parkinson’s which helps some, plus diabetes and hypertension medicines, though he is having complications in his hands and feet.  Our medical staff visit him at home because it is hard for him to come to the clinic.

Chapter Three

Tomás is 84 years old.  He lives with a family that took him in.  They live in the Areas Verde of Nueva Vida…the green area.  Sounds nice, doesn’t it?  In actuality, it is the squatters of Nueva Vida who have put up a shack of tin or cardboard.  Tomás has a room that is as big as his pitiful cot.

He suffers from an arterial ulcer on his foot that he has tended for 16 years.  His toenails have atrophied.  He, too, is diabetic.  He got the ulcer while fishing 20 years ago.  He came down from the campo, the remote rural areas of Nicaragua, to try and make a living fishing in the polluted lake of Managua.  While fishing in the lake…with no boat…he was bitten by something.  The wound never healed.  Patches would help a great deal.

This season, give a gift that will help Lupe, Felipe, Tomás and others like them who suffer from poverty and these conditions that you and I cannot imagine unless they are described to us.