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Monday, February 8, 2010

Letter from Haiti

The following is a message from one of our volunteer nurses in Haiti:  "Its sad here but intensely beautiful even with all the destruction and poverty.  They have beautiful landscape and people.  I feel like what I’m doing here isn’t enough...  I had a woman who told me she had been pregnant for 12 months...I was so busy, I assumed a doc would look into it but I don’t think one had the chance.  Supposedly women often have horrible fibroids in their uterus or ovaries or something and so they think they’re pregnant.   It’s so disorganized, bad writing everywhere...not enough pain not getting through to patients but of course wonderful things happening too.  It’s more medical poverty issues and not so much trauma but i do have some ortho patients and an amputation.    Yesterday I took care of a mother and baby and the mother was hiv positive but wasn’t telling anyone.  The baby was 22 days old and only weighed 5lbs which would be a birth weight even to be concerned about.  So mother hadn’t breastfed understandably and a lot of the mothers here over dilute their formula as a way of rationing.  The little guy was malnourished and dehydrated but such a trooper.  I fed him and held him lots and made sure the mother was ok with that.  I’m getting more and more patients each day and a ton of the group is leaving so I’ll probably end up having 12 of my own patients in the next couple of days.  No idea how I am supposed to help anyone when it’s like that but I am trying. 

Our usual day is we wake up in the morning around 6am, have breakfast at 7, take an hour-long bus ride to the hospital.  Then I took at the pieces of paper next to the patients and try to figure out what I can do for them.  It’s mostly antibiotics, pain meds, and then giving meds in a ziploc bag to patients and family and giving them instructions on when to give stuff.  They’re great about it.  We get off at around 5pm so not super long but we don’t take days off unless we are sick.   We take the bus home and we wear masks cuz of all the fires and dust.  It’s good because then I can have a bit of a cry and no one notices. 

The other people I am working with are fantastic.  We have 5 GPs, 3 surgeons, 10 nurses and other randoms.  I’m one of the only non Haitians here.  They thank us for coming seeing as how we have no ties to the community but I don’t really see it like that.   We are all people."

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