Monday, May 12, 2008

My week out

My first clinic visit was to John Ackerman's clinic in Prospere, a village about 45 minutes beyond Croix de Bouquets, 20 minutes from the Dominican border. It's a tiny little building with the clinic down below (where you can see the open red door) and above it, the church which also serves as a school during the week. The clinic is open 2 days a week and they see basic medical cases and pregnant women. John has a Haitian nurse who works with him. She handles the maternity side and he takes the general medicine. During the course of the day, we saw the usual heartburn, malaria, colds, anemia, and back pain.
The clinic is surrounded by corn fields. It was a pretty area, though very dry, like most of Haiti.
On Tuesday, I accompanied Mary, an RN, and Sherrie, a teacher, from Christian Light Ministries during their rounds in "The Ravine." We walked along a river bed, seeing children that live in the slums on either side. Sherrie goes through the ravine every week with whatever medical person she can find to help her. The weekly walk-through serves as the general check-up, and whatever medications we prescribe get administered to the children by Edmond, a Haitian who lives in the area.
I loved being able to see the children at their homes, getting little glimpses into what their lives are like.
Is this little girl not stunning! She was one of our many cases of "pias" (head lice).
We treat the pias with a vigorous washing of Selsun Blue (or orange if we can get our hands on it).
Some kids, like this one, are too sick for us to treat. We send them to Grace Children's Hospital, about a 15 minute walk. This boy had fallen and it looked like he had fractured his wrist and his ankle.
My last outing was with a medical team from Florida. They were working with Christian Service International to hold a week-long clinic in a village 15 minutes outside Croix de Bouquets. They used students from Quisqueya school as translators, so I was able to hitch a ride along with the students. This wound is the result of a very poor job of removing a lipoma. The woman showed up at the clinic with a huge hematoma at the sight and with a wound that was not even close to healing. By the time I saw it, on Friday, the team had drained the hematoma and cleaned out the wound and it was much better. It still required a lot of packing (it was about 3 cm deep, 8 cm long and 6 cm wide). Gross!
Another of our handsome patients!
The last patient we saw was a 46 year old woman who had recently gone blind and was not in apparent kidney failure. The solution to her problem is hemodialysis, a very expensive and invasive treatment that we don't have in rural Haiti. In fact, I would be surprised if we had it in Haiti at all. There was nothing we could do for her except give her vitamins and pray over her. She will most likely die.
When our mobile clinic was done, we visited the main clinic in Croix de Bouquets. It was huge and seemed more hospital like to me.
I spent my nights at my friend Kim's apartment. Kim and I met on my first trip to Haiti in May 2006. We were both visiting HFC for the first time and we were both hoping to return there to intern. She ended up living there for 3 months before I did and we have remained good friends since. Kim teaches at Quisqueya Christian School on Delmas 75, so I got to know the school and some of her colleagues and students.

The QCS girls have a soccer team but none of the other schools in PAP have female soccer teams so they have no one to play in matches. To solve that dilemma, the female teachers formed their own team and compete against the girls. I got recruited to play for the teachers' team, the Bald/Golden Eagles. I have to be honest: we are a pathetic team! I know how to play, given the many games that I have watched with our HFC boys and with my little brother, but I don't always have the skills to execute. Kim is at about the same skill level and the rest of the team...well, let's just say that they are learning.
All in all, we did remarkably well considering our lack of talent. Kim scored and I scored and we were in a tie game, 4-4 when the official time ended. We went into overtime, and lost after 7 minutes. That's OK - the girls were a lot more excited about winning than we would have been.
We accepted a replacement goalie for part of the game. His name is Douglas, but we didn't want it to be obvious that we were recruiting male help, so we had him wear a lovely wig and skirt.
It was a good week. I met a lot of people and made some very good connections to the medical world. Have I decided where I want to work in September? No. But I will, soon.

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