Home > Uncategorized > Haiti–Day #3–Dry Arms, Wet Cholera, and Death’s Doorstep

Haiti–Day #3–Dry Arms, Wet Cholera, and Death’s Doorstep

February 22, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments
Haiti (Feburary 2011)
Day #1 Day #2 Day #3 Day #4 Day #5 Day #6 Day #7

Head for the hills

The rest of the medical group (i.e., Medical Student Missions) piled into a 4WD truck and went to the mountains with the Cuban doctors to check on Cholera patients.

The Cuban docs are all female. I hear they can be sent to other countries and won’t run away because they want to return to their families. I guess the male doctors just bail on their families. Lame.

Medical Crew Heading to the Mountains for Cholera Patients

Babies Galore

I’d planned to help at an infant immunization clinic, but they didn’t want the Blanc’s help. They’d probably heard about my 16-penny nails.

Baby Immunizations

Dry Arms

Feeling unwanted, I went to the lab to draw blood with Eric. I couldn’t get blood in my first two patients. I found a vein in the first, but couldn’t get much blood out. Eric restuck and got 2 mg, of the 4 we wanted. The next I couldn’t get anything, nor Eric, so the nurse in charge tried and didn’t get any. She had the pt hold a vial next to his arm and drip in the blood (she got about 1 ml). The next I just couldn’t find anything to stick, nor Eric, and the nurse tried. She dug
crazily and didn’t get anything. Well, I think she sucked about 1 ml out of muscle).

Wet Cholera

The cholera clinic is a tent.The first time I walked into the clinic, I stepped over the strange boxes filled with soaked sponges–I didn’t want to get my shoes wet.I quickly discovered that the chlorine-smelling sponges were there to clean our shoes of the cholera critters. It make sense once you’ve been in the tent. They’re continually wiping up the floor with bleach.

foot box mopping

there, an ambulance pulled up with a boy, probably 7 or 8 years old. They pulled-up his pants and helped him out of the ambulance. As he was standing there, being held up, he fainted. Eric and a hospital worker, or maybe a family member, carried him directly to the “C” pediatric tent. Eric tried to get an IV, said he got a flash, and the nurse pushed the needle in all the way and then slid up the catheter. He said he could see it blow out the vein. The nurse couldn’t get an IV in, they gave oral hydration, and he vomited on the floor.

Haiti-3-Cholera Boy-1

Collapsing

Dashing to the clinic

Immediate hydration

Death’s Doorstep

While I was hanging around with my translator, Alexandre Herold talking about life, languages, and Haiti, one of the Haitian nurses came and and said something to Alexandre in French. All I could make out from the conversation was, “Blanc” (a.k.a. whitey). He explained that she wanted me to look at a burn patient from yesterday.

I walked into a 20′ x 20′ open room that’s the hospital “lodging” and saw a 20-something year old woman, behind misquito netting, with partial and full-thickness burns on her bare chest. Our folks had helped debride the wound yesterday, and Eric had applied Second Skin (snot-like sterile burn dressings).

The woman was moaning and screaming, saying (in French) that her chest was burning and begging me me to take it off. Trying to mask my not knowing what to do, I proceeded to check her vitals (always a good time killer while seeking composure). Her pulse rate was a screaming 120 an weak, her respirations
rapid, and her hands were cold with pale fingernail beds. Signs of serious (spetic) shock. No good. Slipping away in front of me.

There isn’t really a hospital staff here–just folks providing random medical care in various rooms. I had Alexandre find one of the Cuban docs and in my Spanglish, explained to her that I had a patient with a “rapido” pulse (as I mimed taking my own pulse), “rapido” breathing (as I made my chest rise and fall raplicaly), and “blanco” nails (pointing to my own), and “freho” hands. She asked, “Shock?” and I said, “Si, hypovolemic.”

The doc followed me to the patient, felt her head, and said “Infermo.” She checked the mucus membrane around the womens eyes (they were pale), and agreed, saying something like “Si, septic, por un infection.” I wanted to start an IV, but I don’t think there was any fluid in the hospital. The doc say, “No. Transfusion. No hemoglobin.” I’m not so sure it was a hemoglobin issue, but I’m glad the doc saw it as seriously as I did. She filled out some paper which wuold allow the woman to be admitted to the neighboring hospital, the family loaded her up, and away she went, still screaming.

Haiti (Feburary 2011)
Day #1 Day #2 Day #3 Day #4 Day #5 Day #6 Day #7
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