Carmina is an artist. In what little spare time she has had when not raising three young kids at their home in La Paz, Bolivia, she has spent the past few years learning painting and creating beautiful works of art.
When you meet her, Carmina looks and acts very youthful—but her hands tell a different story.
At age 38, Carmina has severe rheumatoid arthritis. She began developing the disease 20 years ago when she was a teenager, and it has progressed to the point where she can no longer use her hands to paint or even to open her paint bottles. She taught herself to use her left hand two years ago, but now even using that hand is too painful.
"I have a painting that I started but haven't worked on for one and a half years," Carmina said. "I look at it every day thinking, 'Tomorrow I'll work on it,' but I never do."
With her joint defomities and the painful swelling she experiences, her arthritis also interferes with her ability to care for her children. The disease has already begun inhibiting her ability to open and close her hands.
Dr. Jorge Terrazas, our partner surgeon in Bolivia, has taken measures to try to prevent further joint damage and to restore functionality to her hands. He operated on her right hand earlier this year, and in May when our volunteer surgical team was in La Paz they successfully performed surgery on her left hand to enable her to open and close it again.
Carmina has a long road ahead of her, with physical therapy and coping with the symptoms of her arthritis, but the surgical care she has received from ReSurge has kept her optimistic. She hopes that after her surgical care and recovery, she will once again be able to paint and can finally finish that painting.