Saturday, June 17, 2006

Haitian Healthcare at a Glance

What an interesting (and scary) experience it was to see what is referred to as "the best" hospital in Port au Prince.

On Thursday Jason and Rhonda were heading in to get Jason looked at, he has been having some scary symptoms and they were just wanting to find out if lab work would give them some answers. Troy came down with fevers, chills, and body aches in the night so Thursday morning he asked them if he could crash their party and ride in with them.

Somewhere along the drive Troy (who rode in the backseat) sort of freaked out a bit I guess. Rhonda told me it was one of the strangest things she had ever seen, I was not there so I only have Troy and Jason and Rhonda (later Beth and John) to tell me about it. Troy lost feeling in his hands and they clenched up into fists and he could not get them unclenched. His legs were tingly and he felt generally horrible. He said that he got scared at the loss of control in his hands and that just caused more problems once he was afraid.

Poor Jason could not get help right away because Troy was doing so poorly. The Doctor was suggesting that they take Troy to the hospital. He said Jason could get lab stuff done there. They called John and he led the way since we they did not know where to go.

There were lots of interesting things about the hospital. Some of the funnier/odder ones (now that we can laugh about it) were:
The nurses all dress like 1940 nurses with all white and little nurse hats. They gave Troy a shot in his butt, and even now we don't know what it was. Troy told me (maybe for my ears only??) that the nurse rubbed the alcohol pad on his butt longer than he was comfortable with and in a huge area, as if the needle was about five inches in diameter.. HA! I told him she knows cute buns when she sees them.

There are about 50 rooms in the hospital, all but a few of them are not air-conditioned. Troy lucked out and ended up with air in his room. The halls remind you of something out of 1945 too. Since we are the foreigners, we struggled because no one spoke much English. The communication in a hospital in the States is preferred. The nurses did not know anything, the doctor only came twice in 24 hours and the lab work took 22 hours to come back.

The doctor comes in and asks you for cash for her services. You pay her cash on the spot directly and pay the hospital separately when you leave. The rooms have no phone.The bathroom has toilet paper on request only.The bathroom has no towels, wash cloths, or soap. When you ask for a towel to shower, they tell you they don't have towels.

The funny things that happened ... John McHoul kept telling the nurses and Doctors that it was "show business" when Troy was writhing around in pain. Even when you are in pain that makes you laugh. John has a Boston accent, everything he says in English or Creole is very funny to everyone listening. He is an excellent tension breaker.

Once I knew what was going on I took the second truck in to see Troy. I parked it at Beth's and she drove me over to the hospital. While I was at Beth's I grabbed a diet coke from their freezer (yes their freezer acts as a fridge, they have freezer problems.) Later that day after John had left and Beth stayed to visit with us a bit, Beth's phone rings. John asks to talk to me. Admittedly, I was tense and worried and on edge ... so ...

Tara- Hi John whats up?
John- Well, I know what has happened.
Tara- Huh? What? what do you know? what happened???
John- I have just been by my house and I know that you took one of my diet cokes.
Tara- Oh, Oh ... well, it is just a loan John, I will replace it soon.
John- Okay, good ... I see that you took the regular diet and not the black cherry diet, that is lucky for you.

So, we checked out yesterday. The Doctor said Troy should stay, but we really saw no reason to stay since the worst had passed and they did not have any idea what is going on ... the air conditioning and TV were nice but not at $350 a day. They told us to watch the fever closely, we are doing that.

We watched USA channel and got to see 24 Law and Orders back-to-back so we feel satisfied. We also watched news out of NewYorkCity, that was so strange ... it is odd to not see a news broadcast for five months. Our favorite New York City, local news story was the Haitian cab driver who caught a guy that stabbed four people in NYC on Wednesday and Thursday. Way to go Haitian immigrant! Nice work.

Troy feels about the same today. Not worse, thank the Lord. We are just watching him and praying that, if he should go rest for a week in the States, that he would have clear peace about leaving here. He is a normally healthy guy. Since the end of April he has really struggled with his health. We feel upbeat, whatever decision we make over the next day or two will be covered in so much prayer that it will be the right one.

Today I am taking my gateman job seriously and helping Troy with the visitors that want to come look at him. It is so sweet, but not up Troy's ally ... he likes to be sick in private. :)

Next time you come to Haiti, it is not a bad idea to bring your own Toilet Paper and towel ... just in case you end up in a hospital, you will be glad to have it. :)