Last time I tried to update this blog, I spent over an hour typing up everything, only to have it all lost when the power went out! I wanted to scream.
But here I sit, patient and ready to tackle this Haitian internet and race against the time of the dying battery.
I'll highlight the biggest events and then when I get back to MN I can go through things more thoroughly.
I spent Monday and Tuesday at the Petit Guave hospital. Monday I spent the entire day in the OB working with newborns. I looooved it! Most of them were very tiny. One weight I took was a baby who was one week old and weight just over 4 lbs. The labor, delivery, and infant care is so insanely different in Haiti. I walked in the delivery room to find four women, legs wide open and completely naked as they waited in agony for the delivery. No pain meds, no comfort care, sweltering heat, mosquitos and no privacy. I couldn't believe that the women were so disrespected in being uncovered. I pointed out to Rigan and he agreed that it wasn't okay. He asked a nurse to cover one of the women, but the nurse's response was that the patient didn't bring her own blanket to cover with. That's how it works in the hospitals. If you don't bring your own clean linens, diapers, wash cloths, soap, food, etc, then you don't get it while you're there. The family assumes full responsibility for the patient and has to buy any needles,medication, gauze, etc that that patient might need for the nurse to use on them. Most of the day was spent doing thorough newborn assessments which consists of physical assessment, vital signs, checking relfexes and most of the time included changing diapers as the babies were sitting in soaked diapers. Sometimes we'd change the diaper and the family didn't have a new diaper so we had to wrap the baby in a blanket instead. I was peed on but I couldn't get mad cause the little thing that did it to me was so stinking cute and tiny. I also changed the dressings on the umbilicus from where the cord had been cut. I think that I was the first to change any of these dressings because as mom's saw what I was doing, they lined up for me to clean up and re-bandage their babies too.
The second day I spent a lot of time working with a woman who looked near death. I walked into the internal medicine ward and saw an almost empty room, nurses sitting at the station, students leaning against the wall talking and only two beds occupied by patients. My eyes focused in on a woman who looked near death. Her husband and daughter stood near the frail woman who looked like she was gasping for air. Her face was tired, she was completely exposed on her chest, covered in sweat, and I could see every bone on her body through her thin skin. I summoned Rigan (RN), Chris(RN) and Emily (MA) to come with me and check her out. The patient was unable to speak and was choking on her phlegm. The family explained that she was able to speak but that she has been very sick for 12 years and since then lost her ability to speak. She had malaria. From her high blood pressure, right side motor retardation, and lost ability to speak/swallow, it was likely that she suffered a stroke somewhere along the line. First we covered her chest. It drives me crazy when the women are disrespected like that. Then I showed the family how to cool off the woman by placing cold washcloths on her forehead, around her neck, under the armpits, and on the groin. We repositioned her and sat her up because she was choking, having trouble breathing, and complaining of heart palpitations. We educated the family a lot on foods and drinks to avoid and which options would be best for the symptoms she was experiencing. After all our interventions, her heart rate was more regular and she looked more lively.
Another patient we worked with was a devestating case of child abuse/child slavery. She was 12 years old and had been beaten over the head with a pole. Her skull was cracked open. We changed her wound dressing to find that the sutures done on her skull didn't seal up the injury completely. We cleaned the area really well and covered it so that nothing could infect the area. We pulled her aside from the people she was with to talk to her in privacy about the place she was going back to. We wanted to bring her back home to her family. A woman that was with her said she was bringing her back to a different home and that after her head healed, they would bring her back to her mom. We asked the little girl about this and if she was safe and thought this woman would take care of her and eventually bring her home. I hated to leave the vulnerable child but I didn't know what else to do. Everyone was assuring that she would be safe, and even in privacy the little girl didn't voice any fears or hesitations about going home with the woman. I told Jasmine ( owner of the orphanage) about this and she said that even if we brought the little girl back to her mom, her mom would just give her away again to the same situation of being a house slave/servant. It kills me that these young girls and boys just accept this way of life. They feel lucky to have a place to sleep and food to eat, but all day and night they work like dogs. This situation has been the most eye-opening problem I've seen on this trip. I know that there are some people in Haiti fighting to put an end to this problem, but from the looks of it their concerns don't stop what's happening behind closed doors.
On Jan 1st, Haiti's independence day, we had a big community health fair in a small neighborhood in Leogane. We didn't have much medication because that tends to be the most expensive part of the event and you never know exactly what meds you will need. We brought some basics such as vitamins, childrens and adult tyelnol, cold medicine, some antibiotics, de-worming medication for kids, scabies treatment, and a few other things. We saw around 100 patients and I would say that half or more of them were children. We partnered with the women in the community and gave them 50 pounds of beans and rice to cook up for everyone along with all the spices and sauces, and hot dogs they needed to make a nice meal. We also made a lemonade type juice for all. We had a DJ, big speakers and music playing for everyone as they waited to be seen. We started out the day in introducing who we are and what we would do for the day, prayer, and the national anthem. We had about 10-15 health care professionals and students there to help see the patients. We did a lot of collaboration with each other on the patients we saw. Chris was able to detect that a 2 year old boy was blind and had some other disability both of which his mother had no clue about. A lot of my work was in educating the patients on how to take care of their symptoms wether it be child dehydration, acid reflux, stomach ulcers, dizziness, or whatever symptoms they presented with. There were some patients who needed medications which we didn't have and Rigan and I will go back to see them on Monday after we buy the things they need. We donated the remaining beans to the family of the women who helped cook everything. They spent from 8am-3pm cooking for everyone. This family also has 14 children living in a "house" with only one room and one bed. Saying it is a hut is glorifying the situation. When it rains, the house is flooded. The little ones sleep on the bed and everyone else sleeps on the dirtt. Jas and Gregg worked with this fmaily in Evangelism when they first started coming to Haiti and they say it is thier dream to one day build the family a concrete house. So any handymen out there????
Ok that's all for now. Chris and Emily left today and Greg and jas are still on their trip to the Port au Prince airport. There are 3 babies who I need to do skin treatments on, as well as a large supply of medicine that I will organize and label for Jas before she comes home.
Thanks to everyone who read this!! Love you all