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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day Two: Hitting the Ground Running

Actually we hit the ground last evening, and have been running since.

Right now, to paint a picture, I'm on a porch. It's pouring but the computers are sheltered by a roof. The rest of the volunteers are milling about drinking beer and relaxing, or sleeping beneath mosquito nets behind the thin wall to my left. I'm in my scrubs and interrupting my own writing to chat with two 4th year med students who are sitting with me. They are discussing creating an art therapy group for the children, who are all having nightmares. These are my new friends, comrades. I'm so proud.

I'm not sure how I want to frame all of the information I have for you. A narrative would be overwhelming at this point, and we're only two days in. So much has happened, I feel as though I've been here for a week already, and yet I'm sure as the actual week goes on I will start to think  I only got here.

I have fallen in love with Haiti and with the people here. It's a beautiful country and the people have a spirit which is incredible. It blows me away and puts any faith or hope I may have to shame.
I want to talk more in depth about it. Because sometimes it's easy to take for granted. In fact - I have to. If we spent all our time marveling at everyone nothing would get done. But once in a while a look from a patient, or seeing an exchange between two people will hit me- HARD. And it makes me stop everything.

BHCHP can be proud of us so far. Although last night we worked together we got split up today and we're each handling a tent of 36 patients. The teamwork here is amazing. Sometimes there aren't enough people to go around and that's hard, but everyone is here to help. There were two other RNs with me for the first part of the day. One had been in charge of our tent all week and she left this afternoon; she gave me a quick orientation last night. The other RN, April is an ER nurse from Oklahoma and and she's awesome. We gave out all the meds, did vitals, flagged patients for surgical wound rounds and once that was done ,  set to work immediately rewriting every chart (which are in complete disarray), creating our own plan for medication distribution, and updating the care plan papers that hang taped above the beds because they were mostly outdated.

I want to go be social, and I still need to wash the DEET off my skin. But first, another picture:

Today in my tent I was creating a system for how to communicate with our MD, who was in and out because he was also rounding with ortho across the road in the OR.  To paint the picture for you even more, the tents are hot, hot hot. It's hot outside, but worse in the tents. It's over 100 degrees easily, and muggy. Inside there are a lot of flies looking for wounds we forgot to cover. It smells like people in the tent. There are not only 36 patients, there are family members sleeping on the ground, or sharing cots.

  I had done all my patient care and was trying to sort out all the orders I needed clarified. (There were a lot of them). Then twenty men in suits walked into our cramped, thick aired tent. They were smiling and shaking hands. I ignored them after a minute because they didn't seem harmful, and there are people in and out the tents all day volunteering to help their neighbors and family.

Just then one of the patient's family members sidled up to me and said "you know, I'm not his family."
He pointed at the patient, "he lost everyone in the earthquake. But I stay here. I wash him, I bring him food. I take care of him. I met him here. I also have no family.

"I do it because the Lord loves me, so I love him."

The men in suits lined up in the center of the tent, and began singing. They were an acapella Gospel group. And they were amazing. They sang for a long, long time. My patient's "family member," translated for me:

"If you have problems... don't worry. For the Lord is with you.
"Don't cry... don't cry. He understands you."

All around us patients smiled, bowed their heads or sang along. They have so much faith. They have no doubt. They adopt one another. They live for each other because that's how to stay alive.

I have literally never seen anything like it. I'm floored.


April Elizabeth said...

i cant comprehend thier attitudes. Its so amazing, uplifting and unbelievable.

Jen said...

Mish your post was so inspiring! Your patients are so lucky to have you there! I'm leaving for Haiti this Friday and reading this post and previous posts has helped me prepare for my trip. I wish you the best in your time there and look forward to seeing you when you get back :)

Shannon said...

I'm so proud of you.

DJ said...

Hey babygirl!! We are all incredibly proud of you and thinking of you every minute!!! i printed and shared your first blog with some of my cancer patients, and they have fallen in love with your "mischtique" ( hehehe...i made that up!! you may be more compassionate, caring and devoted to humanity, but i am STILL funnier!!!) ;-) Love you, Pim