Saturday, August 17, 2013

"I go there in my dreams"

I am back in the USA waiting in Fort Lauderdale for the connection home. The title quote above was from one of the Haitian Rehabilitation Technicians as I said goodbye to them yesterday. I invited all of them to visit me if they were ever in the USA. In response one said (translated from Kreyol), "I go there in my dreams; someday I hope to go there for real." On your worst day in America remember that millions of people would love to take your place . . .

Reach Deeper

This was the theme at our church a few years ago under the direction of the Reverend Dr. Laurel Hallman (and I think also the title of her book.). That is what these 14 trips over the last 14 years have been about for me. The chance to reach deep deep inside myself and look for connections that I did not know existed. I have been a guest in Haiti. To be invited to return is an honor and a privilege. I pray that I have lived my faith and offered a view of Americans that will reflect positively on all of us. With deep gratitude, Judy

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It's 8:00 now

Still waiting for the car. Talking to the Director of Community Health about recent small outbreak of cholera. Donations needed for Nursing salaries!! Go to and specify cholera support when you hit the donate button. Supplies are coming in from various sources. Money needed for extra Haitian nurses NOW. HAS is a local agency that can act FAST. Larger outside agencies are too slow. One hundred would fund staff for a weekend at an outlying dispensary. They are open 24/7 for this fast moving disease that can be TREATED successfully if a Nurse is there to start the medicine. Special collection Sunday????

This and that

"I'm staying in a Holiday Inn full of surgeons. I guess they meet here once a year. They exchange physician stories . . . ". Remember that Jimmy Buffet song?? That describes the Alumni House right now with 3 visiting blan surgeons, 2 American and 1 Swiss. I think our car to the mountains might be here. It is almost 7:40 with a scheduled departure of 7:00. C'est la vie" in Haiti!! The delay has given me time for these posts on my iPhone. I can't get my computer to hook up to the blog site. Old people like full touch type keyboards and not these tiny keys where I 'hunt and peck' with one finger. Never learned to use 2 thumbs!!

Sorry for the lack of posts

This has been another incredible trip with amazing highs and lows. Saturday morning I taught a seminar for the Rehab Techs. Their openness to new learning and vibrant participation made for the most ideal class a teacher could yearn for anywhere in the world. The low hits when looking at the PT department coated with the ever present DUST that invades everything in this open air space. Supplies are a jumbled mass and it is hard to dive into cleaning at the end of the day when the patient treatments are finally done yet the heat lies over everything like a blanket. There are no easy answers and certainly no place for blame.

Up into the mountains today

To see patients in their homes. This will be the most essential version of Haiti with poverty and isolation. Yet the adults greet us warmly and the children stare in amazement at the "blan". Cool now but it will be blazing hot by midday. Let's hope my cardiovascular system is up to the task!! I pray for creativity. Compassion no problem. We are incredibly rich and I will again learn the real meaning of gratitude.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What is new?

N-95 masks for Rounds on the TB ward. Only my medical friends will appreciate this one! No more standing in a small room with only a window fan for “negative pressure” with up to 4 patients in the room. Water in the Alumni House where I am staying 24 hours a day. No more dip and pour into the tank when you need a flush during one of the 21 hours per day when the water is usually off. Easy access by cell phone or pay for net internet to the USA. The first time I came 14 years ago there was only one emergency satellite phone on campus. Cell phone service has been available for several years and now the internet is easier to connect, although it still goes out at times as it did the first time I typed this blog tonight!!! The Rehab Techs are using an ever greater variety of techniques to treat their patients. They are soaking up information from the Haitian physical therapist on site and the many visiting blans (foreigners). Lots of discussion in morning conference. There is a 10-15 minute presentation every day by someone. The topic today was on public health surveillance of polio vs. neonatal tetanus and other similar problems in children in the outlying dispensaries. There was a VERY LIVELY discussion afterward of the difficulty of making a differential diagnosis in the small dispensaries, most of which are far up in the mountains. For tomorrow—What is the same? (Hint: Dust) For now rest. Tuesday, August 6, 8:17 PM

Monday, August 5, 2013


There's nothing else to do but jump in. Yesterday it rained and the evening and night were actually pleasant after an exhausting day long journey that began when the alarm went off at 4:30 AM and ended at 7:00 PM with arrival on campus at Hospital Albert Schweitzer. I slept well until the very early morning hours well before daylight when the rooster outside my window began to crow at random intervals. The morning was cool as we walked to the hospital and later beginning rounds. Then the heat began to move in. Around 9:00 AM I started mopping my brow and haven't stopped since. The effects of my shower are already gone. No rain this afternoon and the humidity is thick enough to touch. I started off moving slowly, feeling sleepy as we walked through rounds, then observing one of the Techs on the ward and offering a few suggestions. Then I began treating patients and all sleepiness went away. As the sweat poured down I became fully immersed in the experience that is Haiti. So many things are the same as at home--the relentless process of aging. Multiple patients on the medical ward with congestive heart failure. The family of the stroke patient who is 2 years post stroke, contracted in both legs and unable to walk, begging me to see him at least once a week. He has already had a period of intensive Physical Therapy in New York and he remains immobile. The Techs here, as well as the family, had a difficult time accepting that his situation is unlikely to change this late. Will close for now and begin sorting through the supplies I have to take to the hospital. It is fully dark; the days are getting shorter as August rolls in. There is much to tell and my creativity fails as I ponder how to get it all in. Thanks for reading this if you have suffered through this far. Until later . . . . . .