Sunday, July 3, 2011

Haiti, part two

Quick Update
I am spending this lovely 4th of July weekend up in Maine with Jake's family at a beautiful lake house, and enjoying every minute of it.  We spent a couple of days in Boston and were able to visit with some dear friends of mine, two of whom, unfortunately, had to spend the night in the ER with me when I came down with a sudden kidney infection late last Thursday.  They were wonderful and Jake was a trooper, staying with me for several hours as they ran tests, did an ultrasound of my kidneys (no stones found), gave IV fluids, antibiotics, and morphine.  A friend astutely pointed out that this was karma paying me back for hating the renal module so much.  The silver lining, however, was that I correctly diagnosed myself and knew what treatment I would get!  Small comfort for one of the most painful things I have ever experienced, but the good news is that I am now on the mend and feeling much better.

Mobile Clinic Days
Our second clinic day was held in another emptied church building that serves dual purpose as a school during the week, as evidenced by the free-standing blackboards.  We were all slightly surprised to find decently complicated algebra problems that we were not totally confident we could work out ourselves (or maybe I am just speaking for myself here.)  

The building was mostly thatch and slatted wood, and had no ventilation at all.  I don't know if I have ever sweated so much continuously for so many hours.  I was literally dripping and kept having to wipe my face on my sleeve to keep my sweat from going into my eyes or falling on my patients.  The Haitians, for their part, looked elegantly dewey and I'm sure must have wondered what in the world was the matter with the white girl.

Breastfeeding a crying baby makes it much easier to hear her heartbeat.
Hanging out on our porch--this is how we spent many hours before
and after meals,  waiting to leave for clinic or  relaxing after dinner.
Pretty much how we felt every day after clinic; cold Coca Cola classic
never tasted so good.
Typical dinner--turkey, rice & beans, gravy, fried plantains, veggies
(soo delicious!!)
Group game time at night!

Ernante and Mason--two of our awesome interpreters.
Patients in line for clinic.
Setting up shop--this day's clinic was hosted in (and around) somebody's house.
We set up tarps and sheets and branches and poles; people brought chairs and tables
from their homes; we improvised a workflow for the "clinic" and started seeing patients.

The Haitian doctor who worked with us at this site.

3 generations of beautiful women

Drying tobacco leaves

This is definitely one of my favorite series of pictures I've ever taken--my friend Woon Cho playing kung-fu with the little boy whose family owned the house that hosted our clinic:

Med students and interpreters

The crew.

Emergency Ear Surgery
On our second-to-last night in Thomonde, one of the Medishare staff nurses came to ask our team a favor.  His 17-year-old son had gotten the cotton head of a q-tip lodged in his ear, right up against his eardrum.  (You can also read this as a cautionary tale against cleaning your ears out with q-tips... this is the reason they say not to do it.)

It turned out that he had already been to the local hospital, and they had not been able to dislodge the cotton.  In an interesting example of how "American medicine" --or whatever you want to call it-- is regarded in Haiti, they came to ask our doctors to try their hand when their local resources had failed.

We had a sterile surgical kit that we didn't expect to put to use and a pair of forceps in it small enough for an ear canal.  Lots of irrigation with sterile saline did nothing to dislodge or even budge the foreign body, so the only option left was to try to grasp it with the forceps... tricky, given the risk of puncturing his eardrum, not to mention it was late at night and totally dark out.  But, the patient was in horrible discomfort, so two of our docs decided to brave it.

My role in the operation consisted of lending my headlamp.
Major relief to have the q-tip finally out.
The happy patient and his father with the docs after the successful operation.

Dr. Malebranche, who removed the offending object from the young man's ear, did a much better job than I recording the details of some of our experiences and his reactions to them throughout the week.  I thought you might be interested in a different perspective, and asked his permission to publish his writing on this blog, and it is well-worth the read.  You can find his story here.

I will finish up with the last batch of pictures soon.  In the meantime, have a very happy and safe fourth of July! 

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