Monday, June 29, 2009

Back in Deschapelles; Sunday ends; The work begins

Monday, June 29, 4:00 PM
Back on the Wards
The ethical questions come screaming at you along with the waves of heat. Why? Why? Why? Why is this small child suffering with burns in a crowded room with flies everywhere? Why do so many people tell me they are hungry when in my world we all strain not to overeat? Why have I been given a life flooded with abundance?

The wards are full and people line the hallway outside the Clinics. What will happen to these people if this hospital does not find the funding to sustain itself?

The culture shock is overwhelming. There is no way to prepare for the enormity of it. The physical is also overwhelming. As I carefully stretched the fingers of a burn patient this morning, slowly stabilizing and moving one joint at a time, the sweat poured from my head, down my back and chest. Pools of sweat formed on my thighs where I braced my forearms against them as I sat in a chair next to the patient.

Several patients had exposed tendons on the hand with only silvadene to cover them (only the Parkland therapists will fully understand this).

The Haitian Students
I met the Rehabilitation Technician students this afternoon and told them a little about myself and they in turn shared briefly with me. They are wary; how would I feel if a foreign teacher suddenly began telling me through a translator what to do?

I started with a short lecture on burns: “The position of comfort is the position of contracture” (Parkland again). We went to the hospital and saw the two of the burn patients as a group. One patient scares me to death--exposed tendon AND needs to be stretched--I didn’t tell them it scared me but did try to convey the need to be gentle.

This sounds like a stream of consciousness. It is . . . .
Time to post and get ready for our dinner invitation with Raji and Dr. Suresh.

Please send e-mail to my earthlink address even if you get messages on the gmail or yahoo server.

Until tomorrow . . . .

Sunday, June 28, 8:30 PM
End of the Day
Tropical heat. Sleeping tonight will be a challenge. The relief from the cold shower lasts exactly as long as the water is running. It is gone before you towel dry. However, THE GOOD NEWS--since this is the rainy season the water is on all day!!! This is a HUGE bonus; last trip we had 2- 3 hours of water per day in the houses (it is on all the time at the hospital).

Conference starts tomorrow at 7:00 AM, then will reacquaint myself with the hospital during the morning, then meet the students in the afternoon. From my brief visit to e-mail today, much looks the same. The malnutrition ward is open as a separate unit again; last visit the few children being treated were in the regular pediatric ward.

Time to call it a day; actually cooling off a little just sitting here quietly . . . . .

Back in Deschapelles
Sunday, June 28; 11:30 AM

Back in Deschapelles and any doubts that I had about coming here for a month melted away as I was enthusiastically greeted by my 2 house mates at Kay set (house 7) with a cold Prestige. After chattering on about “all things Haiti”, we had dinner (wonderful eggplant casserole) and spicy Haitian potato soup, shortly after which I Crashed with a capital C into bed under my mosquito net. I awoke in the middle of the night to find it surprisingly cool, enough to merit a light sheet over my legs.

We just returned from a short walk around campus and a quick check of my e-mail to find that Laurel Hallman lost the election for UU President. What a mistake by all of those supposedly educated people! I am wearing and will continue to wear my “Laurel Inspires Me” T-shirt while I am here.

The campus is relatively quiet today, probably primarily because it is Sunday morning, but I suspect also because Hospital Albert Schweitzer has suffered mightily with the downturn in the world economy just as the poorest always do.

A young man waiting with me at baggage claim yesterday read my HAS T-shirt and asked if I was headed here again. He told me that he had had several vaccinations here over the years. He then asked me how the hospital was doing, and said in so many words that its reputation in Haiti was no longer as powerful as it used to be. In the past he said that ‘if you went to HAS, you knew you would be ok.” I take it that is no longer the case.

So I will do what I can to help with my tiny drop in the bucket of effort. Thank you all for your support. I hope that I can continue to get these messages to you. I am writing this on the outdated word program on my old computer that I brought solely for internet access. I will try to paste and post it to a blog or e-mail later. This may or may not work! Please feel free to pass on the blog address or any e-mail you receive. It looks like I will have to use internet access for e-mail instead of my e-mail program on this computer. This limits access to my address book.

Until later, Judy

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