Posts Tagged ‘relief work’
Posted on February 19th, 2010 by admin. Filed under Haiti.
Unlike many in the States- if you give your average Hatian an opportunity to learn they take it, cherish it, and make the absolute most of it. I worked as a PT technician w/ a U of Miami team one rare day when were well staffed w/ PTs at the tent hospital. With our extra hands we decided to do follow up with some of the patients we had discharged to smaller clinics.. unfortunately the reality in these small clinics was that there were not docs, nurses, PTs or even cots for that matter….
A Hatian woman told me that most Hatians believe if you are sick or injured you should lay in bed & wait to heal- THat is counter to what PT is- and for many who suffered severe crush injuries, amputations, and broken bones, we knew we had to go out & educate that moving is in fact good for you- as long as it is done intelligently. At one clinic (pictured here) we had a woman go from a wheel chair to walking w/ a walker within 20 minutes with a PT from UM! She glowed as she walked- and seemed like she had just gotten her life back. It was empowering and gave me the chills to witness such a wonderful thing. It brought tears to my eyes- but like many times that week i bit them back. I worked with a school teacher that was lying on the floor in a tent the past week- i made her do some exercises that the PTs prescribed to her. She really hated it at first but with some animated enthusiasm and encourgaement (via translator) I got her up & walking with just 1 crutch- broken arm & all. Here she is calling her family to let them know the news afterwards:
When in a disaster area we all have to be extremely resourceful… not jsut with our professions but with supplies. The lead PT (a genius I might add) created a contraption with a Bally’s exercise club stretch cord, so that this sweet little 10 year old could slowly get some muscle control back -and again be able to do basic things like eat with his right arm. I was constantly struck by how much good came out of such little time and resources. I work as a psychologist: the mind- mental issues- things take a long time to change- but with PT- we saw instant results. Just a little bit of education brought so much joy. Ontop of that a few outgoing onlookers started imitating what we were doing- we began to train them in some PT basics so that after we were gone, they could step in to help. Again, the glow and joy that i saw from these poeple- to have a skill that was useful and could help- most have never had access to education- it again hit the point home that we have so much opportunity in the states that we take for granted. This was one of the most incredible days of my life. I am not expressing it too well here, but i will never ever forget this day- it warmed my heart and made me want to cry tears of joy.
Michelle May a nurse is trying to set me up with a doc- he has a fauxhawk & wears cowboy boots- do i do it?
Laticia Erving likes this.
I live in San Francisco- for those of you are not familiar, there is a dire shortage of men here who are, shall i say, real men… ones who treat ladies well, are hard working, responsible, mature, & well mannered…. enter: the Portuguese Bombeiros.
One night at the tent hospital in Port au Prince, I was fast asleep after an exhausting but rewarding day (would have it no other way). Had my earplugs in as i always do when i sleep in the same tent with over 200 people. Felt a tug on my leg- it was friend, Holly: “want to go to the Portuguese tent?” I had been interviewed by a Portuguese journalist earlier that day- he mentioned that i should come to their camp for a shower, good food and a beer. I jumped out of my cot at Holly’s invitation, slipped on my shoes, took out my earplugs, and grabbed a cute purse of mine which had only laid in the hay underneath my cot up until that point- we were offf…
One might say, what the hell were you doing thinking about frivolous things such as a handsome men’s dimples, or self-clean toilets when most Haitians live a life of misery. You are right- if it had not been me indulging i could see myself judging my actions- clearly jealous of such a person. Thing is- to distract oneself by beauty- it is natural- in a disaster we all have to let off steam. It had been 4 intense days up until that point- never having left the hospital even. When i arrived to their camp the Bombeiros offered me the moon: fruit salad with rum drizzled ontop, heineken beer (cold!!), croissants & cheese, my very own flame repellant white suit, commemorative pins, T-shirts, a non-stinky toilet, scalp massage & …..(gasp!!) they washed my hair!!! I had not been able to up until that point- with 200+ employees of the camp plus who knows how many patients & their families we often ran out of water. One of the lead Bombeiros got out a solar heated water & washed away…..
Let’s face it: i love the Bombeiros- they are handsome, sweet, attentive, and do good for the world- they set up a tent camp in PAP’s biggest stadium. They have responded to many a natural disaster including Iran’s earthquake in Bam in 2003. THey are the cream of the crop- an elite bunch- called the yellow canaries. Cute- their name matches their trousers. They even chivalrously came to wish me off at the PAP airport- one came back personally with yet another gift- a t-shirt that was size small- “your size” (clearly knows the way to my heart)
Thank you, reader- and thank you Bombeiros- for letting me indulge in some stress relief. Please don’t judge me.
I promise to go to Lisboa soon!
Posted on February 5th, 2010 by admin. Filed under Haiti.
One day’s at Project medishare I was assisting a doctor & nurse team, when a woman came in with a little boy clinging to her, like a baby. The woman was a white American lady who lives in the DOminican Republic- she explained that she was in town visiting her friends at their mission when a motorcycle taxi dropped off a little Hatian boy at their front door & sped off. When they opened the gate he was shaking and curled in a ball. The little boy clung to her as she told the story- he buried his face into her neck and chest- she had flimsy towel seperating her skin from his- his skin was covered in what looked like old burns. His face was badly damaged- puss and a severe eye infection- to put it mildly. The little guy was in so much pain. It was clear that this woman really cared for him. He was an urgent patient and the doctors and nurse attended to him immediately. It was interesting to watch how various doctors of various specialities viewed him. First they thought that he had burns- then they got an infectious disease doc over – he declared that it was a rare case of meningitis- one that i cannot even pronounce- meningacaca or something like that (i always clarified “I am not a medical person!”). We then all then had to take cipro and put on masks. She told us that the poor little guy was restless and hardly slept the nite before- would not leave from being held like a baby- she stayed up with him. He appeared badly malnourished and frightened. We needed to get some nourishment into him, but to even put his hospital band on his tiny little ankle appeared to be very painful for him- he squirmed and tried to rip it off. A nurse gave him a sedation so that we could get an IV into him. When he first came in they thought he was 6 years old because he was so small- but once he calmed and was able to lay down we realized he was older. He slept- and the woman who was helping him finally got to call her family- take a cipro herself- and could better tell us the rest of his story. Out of all the patients i came in contact with he was the one who tugged at my heart the most- he was in so much pain and could not even see out of one of his eyes as it was pussed and scabbed over. We did not have an ophtho in the house who could do any eye exam or surgery on him. I was told that maybe the US military would airlift him to the US Comfort- a 1000 bed ship hospital. I raced outside and found a man in grey and black camoflage that i recognized from the day befroe when a different patient went to the US Comfort. I pled with him- he came to look at him. A hospital admin told me that our little guy- who had no name- was better served here than the Comfort- maybe an optho would show up here in the next days- she was pretty certain there was not an ophtho on the US Comfort. I cleaned the missionary lady and her clothes off with alcohol wipes (blood had fallen)- was an honor to serve someone who had been so selfless. She had had him so close to her for so long & now we knew he had menigitis, so that was not good news for her- but she did not seem to care- she was still so worried about him. Her and i chatted- both so sad that they would not be taking him to the Comfort. We brainstormed more ideas- she would go with him to Miami- i ran out to the communcation tent & ran our idea by the military guy & the hospital admin. Unfortunatly noone is allowed to take a child out without a relative- which makes sense- and this guy is clearly an orphan- probably was before the quake. he has been in rough shape for some time- it was obvious. He probably had been living on the streets for sometime. WHo knows how he got the burns- or when he got the menigitis. Discouraged, we sat by his bed as he slept. A mother came in with her four month old baby who looked more like a preemie fresh from the woumb- the doctor I was working at & I tended to her- got IVs in her. An OR doc told me that they could probably use my psych skills then because the baby was likely not going to make it- they told the mom this possibility already. Mom looked dazed as she squatted next to the cot we put her daughter on. I kept running between the mom of the baby- and the missionary lady with our little friend. “What about if i get a friend in Miami who is willing to adopt him so that he can go to Miami for care?” she asked- many many were going to Miami to have treatment- just for the day. I raced to find the military dude & hospital admin agan. THey did not think our idea was as crazy as we thought. “That may be a possibility.” I went into tell my friend- she started calling Miami- to ask a friend if hs would adopt a child & see that he get care at the hospital in MIami. Just then 3 guys in military fatigues and helmets came in- AIr Force- they looked closer at our little guy- had a few conversations with the admin & black/grey fatigues- he said ”We think we can take him to the comfort- WE HAVE AN OPHTHO.” I wanted to jump up and down with joy- got so involved as if i was their social worker. “10 minutes” they said and left- i went back to check in on baby and mom. Baby was miraculously looking better already. Mom said that this was the best baby had looked like in a long time- she still looked dazed and disconnected. I asked the doctor how it was looking… He looked at me with his glasses all the way down his nose- “I think she is going to make it” as he was putting on another set of new rubber gloves tending to a patient who had giant pins in her leg to reset it. Raced back to my friend- exchanged lovelies and emails- “Do you have wings?” she asked me. THat was maybe the nicest thing anyone has said to me in a long time.
Posted on February 4th, 2010 by admin. Filed under Haiti.
One day while we were doing Physical Therapy (PT) in a village clinic with some of the patients the UM had discharged, a man strumed on his guitar. I just watched video I shot of the PT team in action while we were there- the sounds of the man playing his guitar in the background are haunting. Although the patients had smiles on their faces since they made so much progress (many walked when before that thought they needed a wheel chair!!) the music was a somber reminder of the reality on the ground. As i watched this video i was finally able to start to feel some of the emotions that i had to hold back on at the time- so that i could keep going and focus on what i was doing- also not good to cry in front of patients b/c you are so sad about something they cannot easily escape, rite?! Something that is always in the back of my mind in Port au Prince is the question of why they have been born into what they have and why i was born where i was. It makes no sense that people who are poor, work hard, and only want simple things have gotten shat on (4 lack of a better word)… meanwhile there is culture just north that rewards individualism, greed and self promotion. Whenever I step foot back into the US i have this shock- the individuality and selfishness is acidic when you have been away. I often want to shake people back in the US and say “Wake up- do you know how lucky you are- you do not need all you have- give it to someone else- or help someone else- quit thinking about your wardrobe or image!!” Of course, I can;’t do that, so sometimes I am simply a bit reclusive after trips- things outside seems vulgar, fake and excessive. People jabbing away on their cell phones are the worst in my book. I am trying to learn to roll with it a bit better than that- for whatever lessons i need to learn- i should focus on evolving my own judging habits, rather than telling others what they ought to do.
Posted on February 1st, 2010 by admin. Filed under Haiti.
I had no idea what to expect working with project medishare- and glad that i did not. As i wrote, thought I would be doing “logistics” work… which i learned means alot of operational stuff- not so much my forte but of course i can do it- and happily so. However when they caught wind that i was a psych i was pulled into a few cases- I also ended up acting as physical therapist “technician” and a nurse assistant. Much of the reason for this is that there is a dire need of nurses, PTs & OTs. So if you know any please send them Project Medishare’s way. I will do my best the next few days to fill you in a bit of what i have been up to the past week. In a nutshell my experience has left me in awe of the people of Haiti’s resilience and the hard work that docs, nurses, and other medical staff put in at the hospital. 20 hour days seemed to be the norm. I have mad respect for most i met there- some who will be friends for life. Thank you Project Medishare for putting together such an incredible group and for existing in the 1st place- what you have is Haiti’s biggest and most high tech hospital going right now- you are saving many many lives.
Posted on January 26th, 2010 by admin. Filed under Haiti.
Strangely enough w/in my 1st few hours back in Haiti I ended up nodding & looking haggard for a few seconds at the end of this piece on NBC News with Brian WIlliams. I had not slept the night before- keeping the same hours as the nurses & docs.
More soon, beat tired…
Posted on January 23rd, 2010 by admin. Filed under Haiti.
Okay Okay so we were told that we will have access to nothing- spoke to a man i will be working with who is very CIA-esque.. he had suggested bringing a free standing tent since we likely would not even have a stick or ground that could hold a tent up… I got advice on cleaning water using pens, filters, & the ole bleach & bandana method- but then i started receiving texts from Aaron (T-mobile & Verizon have waived roaming fees to & fro Haiti til 1/31.. AT&T has not- filthy bastards). Here are Aaron’s texts:
logistically this place needs us. Lots of people on the U of Miami base. 200 pax hospital and geraldo is next to me.
Phones work here. Tmobile is free. People have comps and I am working with a guy to set up wifi
Computers are likely safe here
Tent and mosquito net not at all necessary. They have a huge communal tent w/ cots.
don’t need to bring water, maybe powered gatorade. Maybe bring some water but don’t load up tho
There are pallets of water here. At night it is COLD! Sleeping bag is a must!
.. it was then clarified that it was so cold at night b/c they crank the AC in the tent at night! so a bit different than we were bracing ourselves for. I asked Aaron about coffee (if I have that i can do anything) he said there is coffee in the CNN tent- I was advised to bring makeup & be ready to bat my eyelashes. Will keep you updated- clearly there is wi-fi. When not working, i’ll blog. xoxo
- Some photos from Misrata… stories to follow.
- The Boat to Misrata (Libya): Men’s quarters vs. Women’s quarters
- Why I had to visit Misrata (Libya).
- Greetings from Benghazi, Libya
- Just another day in Cairo…