4/13/10 - 4/13/10 94 °F
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.