Wednesday, March 24, 2010

one person at a time...

tent camping ala haiti field hospital. this is where staff sleep, and also where tuberculosis isolation patients are housed. lots of people in a small space. 105 degrees f. during the day. sticky...
this is a self-portrait of myself and Kensy, one of the haitians employeed by project medishare. the haitian workers worked 12 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week. Kensy's home was destroyed in the earthquake so now, like many haitians, he is homeless. several of his friends were killed when the earthquake hit. before the earthquake he had been going to school, so he spoke english quite well. he translated for me and helped us do all kinds of things from moving patients on stretchers to circulating in the OR. he worked night shift (with me) and told me that he had to try to find a quiet place to sleep during the day and hope not to get mugged or killed while sleeping. He averaged about 3 hours of sleep per day. amazing.

late night emergency splenectomy. this patient was run over by a bulldozer while trying to help his neighbors rebuild their homes. OR in a tent. also amazing.



this is another view of the operating room. very rustic: plywood floors, flies in the air, lots of noise, bad lighting. probably a surgeon's worst nightmare. the surgeons were so great-- smart, flexible, hard-working, tireless. almost no one slept during the whole week, but the general surgeon, a young resident from Johns Hopkin's was there for every case. he probably only slept about 3 hours a day. catch as catch can...



this is the adult ward. each nurse had 20 to 25 patients. no privacy. no room for anything, just army cots lined up bumper to bumper with about 3 inches of space between each person. no blankets, no sheets, family sleeping on the plywood floors next to their sick loved ones. i gave everything i had to these patients before i left: clothes, blanket, sheets, pillowcases, even my shoes and, of course, all of my food. if i could go back, i would bring cases and cases of shoes and bedsheets and lots of canned tuna and sardines. everyone is protein deficient, totally malnourished and trying to heal from major trauma. sometimes it is way too overwhelming to think about...
the best thing i heard while i was there was from another nurse. she said, "you showed up. sometimes that is the most important thing: they know that someone cared enough to show up." all we can do is help one person at a time. here, there, everywhere we go.
peace.



1 comment:

Jennifer said...

You did an amazing thing. I'm so proud of you!