Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Things I'm Carrying

I am leaving Friday morning for my trip and I find myself in full speed ahead mode, which explains the lack of sitting still and blogging, I hope. Almost everything is done, leaving me with some time in the next few days to relax, dine with family and friends, and second guess everything I put in my duffel bag.

I have been busy tying up loose ends (paying bills that will be due while I'm gone, finishing the script proposal I was working on all month, etc), so that I have nothing to worry about once I'm on my way.*

I've also been involved in more direct preparations like buying supplies, and transferring money to a Caribbean plane company since they don't take credit cards.

Since BHCHP first started sending people over to help staff at Hospital Sacre Coeur enough time has passed that nurses have now returned. They pass on stories that are emotional, unbelievable, inspiring, and energizing. 
They've also been passing on really useful advice about things we'll need, and things to expect.

Packing has been a big deal. I like to travel lightly, plus one leg of the trip is in a cargo plane where weight counts! Still, I don't want to find myself unprepared for working the 16-20 hour shifts every day while staying healthy.

Here's a breakdown of what I'm bringing:

-Clothes. The hospital, like many hospitals here, supplies scrubs and there are staff who do laundry for everyone. So most people going down to this particular hospital have to only bring pajamas, underwear and socks. However, because I am so small I'm concerned that they won't have scrubs to fit me. Half the nurses I asked said "it won't be a problem," and half said "you should bring your own scrubs." So to avoid any form of work-disruptive uniform failure, I unfortunately have had to take up some valuable bag space with scrub pants and tee shirts.

- Medical Equipment. I'm bringing my own scissors, tape, and stethoscope and a fanny pack for carrying patient meds in the tents, as recommended. Each team member is also helping to bring donated supplies from BHCHP** such as gauze, sanitizer, bandages and gloves by taking as much as I can fit in our checked luggage. 

- Nourishment. The food situation is apparently good. Staff gets three meals a day, but although the food was raved about by the nurses, they also said it wasn't enough (quantity wise) to sustain them for those long shifts. My eating habits are defined by "grazing," and  I'm a person who becomes disoriented, cranky and labile when I don't get to munch. So into the bag went a ton of energy bars from my local Eastern Mountain Sports.
 In the same theme, there is apparently plenty of good, clean, bottled water where I am heading. However, it's easy in temperatures that are consistently over 100 F, to overdo it on "free" water. One of the MDs there a few weeks ago actually became severely hyponatremic ( his Na+ was 113!). He had a seizure and experienced some rhabdomyolysis to boot. To prevent this, I invested in some nuun tablets.

- Physical Needs. Normal toiletries plus a super absorbent towel, a personal first aid kit, all the medications listed in my Travel Clinic post, SPF 40 sunblock, and DEET. 

-Emotional Needs. My prayer book. My journal. My ipod. And, of course, my awesome team.

On the subject of "my awesome team,"  I am so excited about the people I am traveling with. To be fair, I thought about it and realized there is no one from work who I would not be excited to go with. Still, Colleen W. is in my group and she and I are close friends besides being good at working together. 

This past week, at an old friend's birthday party I got to talk briefly with an acquaintance who spends a majority of his time in Haiti. In fact, he was already there serving as a member of the medical community with Partners In Health when the earthquake hit. I told him that I felt like what I'm doing is small beans in comparison. 
But his response was reassuring, as he reminded me that they need nurses, and that's why we're going.

Our work is only a small part of a much larger picture. But I am grateful for a chance to work on something so big. 

* Go ahead, you can say it. I'm the model of functionality. I know. 
** The fact that a non profit is donating medical supplies to this cause takes my breath away

1 comment:

April Elizabeth said...

good luck and safe flight!!!!

Stay safe and do good works!

I think what you are dong is really wonderful!