Sunday, June 5, 2016

The last 3 posts

The previous 3 posts were 'cut and paste' copies of emails from 3 of the Rehabilitation Technicians who attended the 2 Saturday Seminars on stroke (CVA) that I taught on this visit to Haiti.  These wonderful notes are the reason and the reward for going to Haiti.  I am home.  Thanks to all of you who have been following on this journey.  

A final email note from another Rehab Tech

Dear teacher Judith , i cant imagine how you still sacrifice your life to help people in Haïti specialy the reabilitation techs in HAS ,i wanted to tell you ,in the exame : we havn't anything new ,only the techs supposed to read and understand befor giving anwer ,it was an easy exam .I think that you had good travel,thanks for your help and the time you spend ,we're watting you soon ,God bless you !!!!! And families

Another email note from one of the Techs

I'm happy about all your help in HAS.Thanks for teaching with us on CVA .

From one of the Rehab Techs a few days after the 2 Saturday Seminars

Hi my jyduth proffesseur, I'm happy to thank you for your successful learning, small gifts, I steep with my notes but I need to try harder, I know without doubt that you stay has a few days still in haiti, I think you're going to retoure Friday I already tell you good trip

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Who to help?

Just a short walk around the area today brought me into contact with multiple people asking for help. Many of them have picked up my name. They tell me some scenario where they have interacted with me before; sometimes I remember. One man was caught up in his own story. He told me I had helped him when he was a child of 8. I asked him how old he was now, did the math and let him know that I had not been coming that long. It was not me. Who knows if some 'blan' did help him as a child. I have already purchased all the Haiti souvenirs I will ever need. So I have finally learned to say a firm no when asked about looking at paintings and other art to sell. Often the request changes to just give some "help." I tell them that I am here to help at the hospital. I am sorry but I can't help them today. As I walk away, most of them are still pleading . . . .

There is progress

People often ask me if I see any progress in Haiti, given the crushing problems that often dominate the news. Yes, there definitely IS progress. Many things are better here at Hospital Albert Schweitzer including their greatly expanded Physical Therapy services. The most enjoyable progress for me is easy internet access. I am spending Sunday morning enjoying one of my most favorite pastimes. Reading the New York Times online, especially the Magazine section. I've been at it for about 3 hours, with short breaks for various small tasks. More time than I would usually spend at home holding the actual newspaper in my hands. Ironically my stay in Haiti is showing me that I may be able to give up the newsprint version and go all electronic subscription. Not quite ready yet, especially when reading in bed where a glowing laptop slows, rather than hastens, sleep.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Possibly flying home without benefit of American Airlines

New post from the United States Embassy in Port-au-Prince: "The Embassy would like to inform U.S. Citizens that this weekend’s weather promises to be stormy and overcast, throughout the country. Temperatures will probably decline this Sunday, May 29. Forecasters are monitoring a disturbance that has a chance (approximately 70%) to become the second storm of the Atlantic hurricane season." It goes on to state, “Environmental conditions are expected to become more conducive to a tropical cyclone or subtropical by this Friday or Saturday, as the storm moves to the West-North-West or Northwest towards the southeast coast of the United States.” The drop in temperatures sounds good. The possible hurricane, not so much. So we'll see what blows through. Keep an eye out for me in the sky sans AA.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Today is a Haitian Holiday

So I am enjoying a lazy morning. We had a wonderful crashing tropical storm last night just at dark that cooled off the air for the entire night; great sleeping. At 10:00 the 2 Physical Therapists at Hospital Albert Schweitzer have asked to meet with me to work on their new stroke evaluation form. This is their day off!!! Would you agree to go in to work on your day off to complete a project with a visiting guest??? Just something to think about if you ever go to a place far away to offer your help and expertise.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

This one is for my Parkland colleagues

So this afternoon, I was invited to work with a stroke patient along with the Department Director. We were going to complete an evaluation together. But the Director had a sudden burst of activity to take care of. We started working together, then she was called away for a 'minute' which stretched into a much longer time. The sweet older lady waited patiently until I finally decided that I needed to just move ahead with the treatment. I finished up what the Director had started, then did some walking and realized the patient needed work on balance. So I did a FULL BERG BALANCE TEST--my first complete one in Haiti! My colleagues at Parkland are rolling their eyes far back in their head. Tomorrow, who knows? Maybe a Fugl-Meyer?? Some things never change.

Thousands of small decisions

As I went through the day today, it struck me how many decisions there are to make from moment to moment. I am here to teach and leave knowledge behind. The formal Seminars are the easiest. Then it is clearly my job to present and draw the listeners into the material to examine it and learn (rather than memorize). But the clinical teaching is harder. When to offer a suggestion; when to stay silent. How hard to push to help with the work load. How much to just let the day flow and wait to be given an invitation to join in. Keep me in your thoughts and thanks to all who have written.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Hot and happy

That pretty well sums up the morning. The 7:00 AM conference featured a presentation by a visiting MD on surgical transplants. It seemed to me like an unlikely topic in a place that does not do them, but it was quite interesting and garnered a number of questions from the staff. The speaker gave a history of transplantation reminding us that the first step in the process was actually blood transfusions. Hospital Albert Schweitzer does, of course, do blood transfusions, so this was a very good way to make the connection to a topic that might otherwise seem far removed. From conference we moved to morning rounds, then to the Physical Therapy Department to see patients. I was most happy to be assigned the task of mentoring 3 of the Techs on the treatment of 3 different stroke patients. This was an excellent follow-up to the Saturday seminar, and exactly the patient population that I enjoy working with the most. I was definitely hot and happy. I lingered so long with 2 of the patients that the Techs fell a little behind in the morning schedule. So the Director asked me to see one of her patients as the place was overflowing with people. It was a very interesting case that I can best describe as antalgic posture due to an external injury to the hip when a wall fell on the patient. She came in via wheelchair leaning far to one side on the uninjured hip. After some strong words from the Physical Therapy Director, a little exercise and some coaching, she eventually walked out on crutches. I'm not quite sure that is quite what the patient expected to happen this morning in Physical Therapy, but it was a good outcome. The afternoon was more mellow and slow and featured a wonderful tropical rainstorm that ended and has now started up again. Perfect for sleeping which I will undertake quite soon. Good night!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Never certain

After falling asleep during a wonderful tropical thunderstorm that finally broke the sweltering heat, I awoke this morning to start the first round of teaching for the Rehab Technicians at Hospital Albert Schweitzer. Our planned 8:00 AM start was delayed by the understandable tendency to move a little more slowly to get to work on a Saturday, and then computer set up problems which resolved just at the moment I was ready to go ahead without the projector. Shortly before 9:00 AM we were finally off and running. I presented a unit on stroke and much of the material was not new to the audience. They were engaged and listening, but asking many questions that slowed the pace. I think they are in a middle stage of learning. They clearly have knowledge that they have gained from a variety of sources. They are struggling, though, to fit all the pieces together; to make sense of all of it in a useful way. They have not quite reached the stage of integration of knowledge into practice. They will be tested on the material for a national Rehab Technician certification process. Never once, though, did they ask the age old dreaded question: Will we have to know this on the test??? So we worked together and finally called it a day at 1:00 PM as everyone's ability to absorb more information began to wane. As usual, I am never certain. Did I teach anyone anything of value that can be used in their work? I hope and pray that I did.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Creeping along

Outside the airport with Haitians with goods balanced on their heads, several UN trucks and all manner of vehicles. Motorcycles weaving in and out. Paintings for sale. Hot. Sunny. Classic Haiti.

On the plane

At the start of another incredible journey to Haiti. US State Dept reporting many political protest roadblocks in Port au Prince area. It will be a long journey from there to Deschapelles. Keep me in your thoughts please!!