Friday, October 10, 2008

This week at Dr. Ed's

I'm back in Port-au-Prince, back in my regular routine of Ravine days, clinic days and around the house at Dorothy's days.

Dr Ed is the physician’s assistant who runs the clinic on Delmas 31 where I work on Tuesdays and Thursdays whenever I can. He is a funny guy, but most importantly, he loves to teach and that is exactly what I was looking for. God really does work things out for us – I did not get the chance to meet Dr Ed when I was in Haiti this spring and normally I won’t commit to working with someone until I’ve met them and done a “trial run”, but I decided to just go for it with Ed. A leap of faith that has worked out phenomenally. Dr Ed lives about 3 blocks from my house, so he picks me up and drops me off on clinic days. And inside the clinic, he wants me to do everything, from diagnosing and prescribing, to translating and minor surgery. It’s the perfect balance of being thrown in over my head and having a hand right there to guide me. Precisely what I wanted.

Funny and happy story about this little boy: He lives near Sherrie’s house in the Ravine, and he had been coming to Sherrie with an open wound the size of a post-it note. She had put him on oral antibiotics for several weeks but the wound just was not healing. Last week, she brought him to me and I noticed that the boy had an intact abscess just about the wound which was probably why it wouldn’t heal. I sent him to Dr Ed’s and Dr Ed drained the abscess while I was in Gonaives. This week, the boy came back to us because we were considering cutting a skin graft to cover the post-it note wound, but when he arrived, we saw that it was beginning to close already, so we decided to wait and see if it will heal entirely on its own. The abscess seemed to have closed up with a little infectious fluid inside it though, so Dr Ed was poking and prodding at it to see if we would need to cut it open again and drain it. The poking was obviously effective. Without warning, the skin bridge that had formed over the incision popped open and blood and pus shot about 5 feet in the air, all over Dr Ed, me and the instruments on our table behind us! It was disgusting, but oh so funny!

A woman came in this week with a large lump on her back that we guessed was a cyst. We put her on the operating table and I did the entire excision myself with Dr Ed standing by to point things out and to mop up blood as needed. Anesthesia, primary incision, lots of chopping to get the thing out, suturing it shut – I did it all. It was awesome! The lump, which was the size of a golf ball, turned out to be a lipoma (made of fat tissue). After doing this, I don’t think I will ever be able to go back to “real” nursing work (following doctor’s orders for meds and IVs. Don’t get me wrong, I have zero experience as an American nurse in an American hospital and I bet I’d be horrible at it if I started today. I have immense respect for my classmates who are now working in the best hospitals in Boston, using equipment that is way too complex for my abilities and juggling 5 or 6 patients at a time. I could not do that!)

The woman also had a little skin tag on her thigh, so we told her that while we had her on the table, we would take care of the tag for her too. She freaked out, “Don’t take it off! Don’t take it off!” Why not? “Because they told me that it’s a sign and if I have it removed, I will die!” Ah, voodoo doctors, how we love you! We tried to explain to her that we had just finished removing something 4 times that size from her back and that she had not died, but she refused. It is so sad how powerful the grip of voodoo is in this country.

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