A Travellerspoint blog

Clinic Day 2

sunny 94 °F

4/13 5pm

Another restful sleep… The locals say that I will be serenaded with a tropical thunderstorm each night,” It is the season,” they say. Which is calming for me but problematic for those who are sleeping under a bed-sheet or those who were previously sheltered in a riverbed. Up at 6, breakfast (toast, oatmeal, & fruit), and out the door. Once again the sun was blaring, “Good day” as I road in the back of our pickup. During the trips to and from clinic a constant surround-sound of chaos persists. Horns blare, people yell, loud motorcycles and cars billowing black smoke zip in, out, and around one another. I am still astonished that I have not seen one wreck yet. These people make Californians look like geriatric drivers! There is constant movement, stillness does not exist; at least if it does I have yet to see it. I am reminded of Darwin’s survivor of the fittest throughout the day.

As I pass children some of them shouted gleefully, “Hey you!! Hey you!!” waving enthusiastically. Other kids smiled and then bashfully covered part of their face with a wave while shying back. Then I saw more resourcefully creative children. Two boys about 9 years old were trying to fly a “kite” that was a plastic bag attached to multiple ribbons that were tied together. The head kite flier bore a bear chest and sported jeans that rested comfortably at his thighs… Yes his entire pelvis bore all of “him” but he showed no concern and continued to fly his kite.

At clinic today we saw 212 people with a 3:1 ratio of women to men. I saw a few patients that we diagnosed with Tuberculosis, at least one Malaria case, but realistically there were more. There was a pastor holding a support group meeting upstairs with approximately 30 people attending. These meetings are held every Tuesday and Saturday. I saw another chicken pox, and a variety of exotic rashes, polyps in a patient’s nare, cysts, abscesses, a woman with probable breast cancer however we were unable to confirm it, and plenty of adorable babies.

Today was a little less draining for me, I think yesterday was acclimation; I compare it to hell week for those in athletics. I have found my stride and hope to stay healthy and effective in service here.

One of our pharmacists got ill today. She woke up with diarrhea, and we had just had a talk about brushing your teeth with the water the previous night. She told me, “The water is not good to drink but ok for your teeth.” I said, “That’s ok, I’m extra careful ever since I got sick in Guatemala,” brushing my teeth with bottled water. Today she told me that she wished that she had brushed her teeth with bottled water. She took some Imodium and toughed it out while in clinic. However, at the end of the day she threw up and sounded like she may have dirtied her pants. So I asked if she would let me give her a shot of Zofran, and she was all for it. A fellow worker (an RN) was like ok Medic lets see how fast you are. J I wish that he had timed me… Real humble right? jkJ She feels a lot better now.

Sidebar: My Haitian interpreter was asking one of my patients her name and he said it was Ellen, then he stopped and said, “Yes, that is who you remind me of! Ellen from the states!” So there we have it, proof that Ellen Degenerus has reached international status that competes with Oprah.

Later in the day he seemed to look tired so I asked him if I was working him too hard, and he stated that he just felt depressed. But he would not take a break or go to the support group that was meeting upstairs. He had just left his class early on 1/12 and was still on the schools grounds when the quake struck. He saw the building collapse and heard the screams of his classmates and friends. The screams lasted all night. Marc’s story is shared by Haitians throughout the Port Au Prince region. They say that at first was a cloud that blocked the sun (debris and dust from crumbled cement) then was the screaming. Shrieks of pain that continued into the night, until there was no more… This is a story that I can repeat but cannot fathom. I could not possibly have an iota of comprehension of the devastation that they have experienced.
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Posted by senete 23:10 Archived in Haiti Comments (0)

Haiti arrival

sunny 90 °F

4/11 9:45pm

3:30am, wake up… Ok really wake up… Seriously plane, yada yada… Ok, I’m up, and out the door! 12 hours and 3 planes later I arrived into Port Au Prince, Haiti safe and sound. I’m sure my love ones would have loved to hear this news yesterday but our internet was down… Walking out of the Haitian airport the first thing that captured my attention was just across the street from the international airport was a dump that had approximately 30 Haitians living amongst trash with no cover. One woman was trying to cook over a homemade fire with a recycled metal bowl, kids were running around naked inventing a new game that was perfectly suited for each piece of trash, a goat was in the mix looking for some grub, and girls were braiding each others hair. The 10 feet of rocky dirt road that separated this community from the airport was so active you would have thought that there was a fire in either direction. Trucks and vans were packed with Haitians, some with 20 people literally stacked on top of one another.

We rode to our quarters, which were much nicer than previously anticipated, no ac but no tent either. I took a shower and was stunned to find warm water; so no “toughing it” bragging rights tonight. Now sleep

Posted by senete 15:44 Archived in Haiti Comments (1)

Clinic Day 1

approximately 200 Haitians

sunny 90 °F

4/12/10 9pm

I had a restful sleep to the soundtrack of thunder and heavy rain. By daybreak, however, one wouldn’t have known it had rained all night because the fierce sun dried the streets in a matter of minutes.

I hopped into the back of a pickup with our team and headed to the clinic. It took about 30 minutes to go about 5 miles, Horns were blaring and motorcycles were zipping in and out of spaces that I wouldn’t have thought a pedestrian could fit through. Trucks excreting black billowing smoke were a standard and each motorcycle had at least 3 people on them. We passed a van that was clearly non-functional on the side of the road with four flat tires, but something inside caught my eye. There was a fire! Oh, it’s ok, it was just some people making breakfast using an open flame inside of a VW. I hadn’t seen that before. We passed piles of rubble ranging from 5 to 40 feet high. Workers were climbing up the side of some clearly unstable structures working slowly by hand in hopes of clearing the wreck. Numerous camps were seen, where communities that were entirely destroyed had set up tents adjacent to one another.

Upon arrival to our clinic we were greeted by a couple of hundred people in the waiting area. We were using a church so they were seated in the phews, we had many Haitians working to keep order, they supplied numbers and had them sit in order. Children and elderly were treated first, then everyone else followed. We set up our stations, then GAME ON! I drafted triage for the day, which meant that I saw every single one of them (approximately 197). The vast majority are experience respiratory infections, bladder infections, painful itchy eyes, post traumatic stress syndrome, STDs, Skin rashes (scabes, even one chicken pox), and many had simply never had a check up before and their friends told them to come. J We are equipped with a stethoscope, BP cuff, glucometer, and a “pharmacy” (which is a couple of non-pharmacist) that look through all of our meds and fill our orders by placing x amount of pills in little zip lock bags and then they explain through a Haitian interpreter how to take the medication).

There were four other health care providers that took patients so they saw roughly a fourth of the patients that I did… J Needless to say I am zapped emotionally and physically. Some of their stories are so devastating. One patient came because she was four months pregnant when the earthquake hit, but ever since the quake she hasn’t felt her baby, then two days ago she started heavy bleeding… It’s not fun to tell someone that they are most likely miscarrying. No access to ultra sound to confirm it but there you go…

After my Haitian translator Marc and I finished triaging our last patient we had a celebratory high five and moved on to help with the other stations.

At the end of our day we hopped back into the pickups and were off to our residence… Well, off was our engine most of the way home. It took just over 2 hours for us to travel 5 miles. So half of the time the driver just turned off the engine and we watched the pedestrians pass us bye.

Shower, dinner, pill party… Not that kind! We prepared our pharmacy for tomorrow. Off to sleep!

Posted by senete 02:15 Archived in Haiti Comments (12)

Wish Me Luck!

72 hours and counting down...

sunny 60 °F

My clothes are repelled, jerky and bars are stowed away, I've been sufficiently perforated with protecting immunizations, and have swallowed my first malaria pill... What am I missing??

Work on Friday, Gay Pride on Saturday, and Sunday I depart at 04:45am!!

Posted by senete 16:06 Archived in USA Tagged air_travel Comments (1)

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