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Monday, March 15, 2010

Looking back

For some of us working in the makeshift hospital located at our boys' home, myself and Ashley for sure, we often refer to "the week of the earthquake" rather than "the earthquake." Right or wrong, I feel numb to the 45 second, 7.0 earthquake. However, I have vivid memories of the day it occurred and the days following. Here are some memorable events. What I don't remember
are the dates they occurred.
  • Arm amputation: Our Haitian doctors, Dr. Paul (orthopedic surgeon), Dr. Andre (general practitioner), and the anesthesiologist (you were lovely and kind, but I always had difficulty saying and remembering your name), decided in the afternoon to amputate a man's arm. It had been severed by a block that fell on him above the elbow, but it needed to be amputated cleanly to avoid more blood loss and infection. Each of us rounded up the needed supplies, my favorites being the little saw borrowed from Dr. Paul's cousin's auto shop and the flat bike tire someone geniously procurred to use as a tourniquet. Susette ran off to the guesthouse to "sterilize it"- soaked it in betadine in a bucket in the bathtub. The anesthesiologist numbed the patient's (Arnst) arm (no general anesthesia or conscious sedation for our patients) and they got underway. I acted as runner for supplies and moved the floodlights nearer the patient when they called for it, Ashley acted as scrub nurse, Susette held the patient's other hand, and Dana took pictures. Our doctors wanted to immortalize the moment with photos so we obliged, sort of feeling like it was insensitive to Arnst to be doing so but not willing to say no. Arnst's blood pressure began to drop precariously low so the anesthesiologist ran back to her house to find a vial of epinephrine, which she administered when she returned. We started Arnst on antibiotics by injection and he left to another hospital a few days later when we discharged all of our patients.
  • Foot amputation: at around 1 am (hours after the foot amputation), after other patients in our hospital had been seen by the doctors, they decided to amputate a foot on a patient who had been with us since just a few hours after the earthquake. We cleared the hospital of all the family members who were caring for the patients and explained the procedure to the patient. We had tried to treat her without amputating the foot (she was understandably very resistant to having it done) but infection had set in. We pulled out the flat bike tire again and the docs anesthetized the patient's leg. But don't think it was the anesthesiologist that gave the lidocaine. She was sitting in a chair, falling asleep. The other docs didn't mind and told me not to wake her. The procedure was underway when a cockroach flew at the doctors and they both jumped up and screamed like little girls. After they'd managed to swat it away (or scare it with their screams), one of them burst into song: "La cucaracha, la cucaracha!" It was a great moment of levity, then I felt guilty for laughing in front of this woman getting her foot amputated. The procedure went well, without any other crazy incidences. She was also released to another hospital a few days later.
I'll leave you with a few pictures of our kids I took about a week or two after the quake. They are doing well and attending school at our boys' home and the top part of our new clinic, which is down the street from the guest house and orphanages. If you or someone you know has an interest in teaching children in Haiti, please let me know. We are looking for ESL teachers to finish the rest of the school year with the kids and to also teach in the summer.

Daphne's cast is off and the leg has healed well. Right now her gate is off because the injured leg is shorter than the other. But, numerous doctors have agreed that the leg will remodel and grow to equal the length of the other. An xray yesterday shows that that is indeed occurring.

*Numerous attempts to load more pictures have failed. Hopefully I can add more pictures another day. Enjoy Daphne!



4 comments:

Jerry said...

Wow, gnarly amputations! Keep up the good work.

Jerry

Grace said...

wow. just wow. Hard to imagine...
and the photo of Daph is super beautiful.

Grace said...

p.s. where are you? Quesqueya park behind the boys?

Meg said...

whoa.