Friday, February 26, 2010

Despair and Joy

Haiti Blog 2010

Despair and Joy

Thursday Evening, Feb. 25, 2010
The day on the wards began with the wailing despair of a Mother who had just lost her small child to malnutrition. Death here is noisy and public. Families in a hospital at home are given privacy; here everyone sees and hears the agony of the loss. The small body was moved to the hallway on a low cot and covered with a blue plastic tarp. Later in the day a family member (the father?) gathered up the child and carried him away, still wrapped in the blue cover.

At the end of the day I sat in the PT Dept making notes and listened to the loud joyful sound of a small child singing his heart out in the nearby public shower. Cold water, no privacy, no problem. He was having a great time; the true Zen path of fully engaging in and enjoying the moment.

Around 5:00 we had a wonderful tropical downpour that cooled everything off nicely. Today was HOT, humid and dusty so the rain was much needed. I snuck in a little nap while it was going on, also enjoying a Zen moment.

I don’t know if it rained in Port au Prince, but if it did, I imagine that all the people crammed into tent cities and broken homes are suffering greatly. I cannot claim too much credit for helping with the ‘dire conditions in Haiti’, as overall it is quite comfortable here. The water is off now until 6:00 AM tomorrow, but we have electricity and a fan in the bedroom. The showers are cold, but it feels really good to get clean. I found some decent packaged cookies in the market place today and there are plenty of soft drinks. No beer, but there is some rum. On the whole, nothing to complain about.

Supplies are pouring into Haiti, but there is never enough. All of the walkers in the PT Dept are broken, and we have one elderly patient who I don’t think is going to be able to manage crutches. I watched a patient leave the dept yesterday with one crutch on the right side and her left arm draped over a family member, hobbling along non-weight bearing on one leg. When I asked the Rehab Techs why the patient did not have a second crutch, they told me she had a wrist fracture. So she needed a platform crutch, which we do not have. Before I left Parkland, I looked longingly at a well worn rolling patient cart in the hallway that was headed for the trash heap. That old cart would be a shining star here in Haiti! If only we could get it here along with thousands of other lightly used pieces of bulky equipment that are so desperately needed here. Single use items in the US are reused many times here and passed from patient to patient. In our eagerness to prevent the spread of infection, I am afraid that we waste a HUGE amount of perfectly good supplies in the US. There has to be a middle ground of patient safety vs. reasonable reuse.

Small moments continue to be the most rewarding. Late this afternoon I did some stretching on a little girl with burns on her chest and the front of her right leg. She laughed and called me ‘blan’ (blanc in French, whilch translates to foreigner in Haiti). When I tried to put her on her stomach to stretch her hip, it was too much and she sobbed and cried. So I pulled out a pink balloon and blew it up for her. Tears changed to smiles and she batted this simplest of toys around and played with her Mother.

Running out of steam so will close. I will probably not get this posted until tomorrow evening.

A demen, Judy

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