Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Hard Afternoon

Written Wednesday night, by Britt:

I sometimes question God. I know that it’s stupid and always realize so quickly afterwards. I’ve noticed that the ‘bad days’, which in my definition is a day in which I either accomplished little and am angry with myself about it, or a day in which too many bad things happen – particularly medical things. Today was one of those ‘bad days’ in the medical category. I often remember the phrase “Whatever God asks you to lift, He gives you the grace to carry.” I think I have a control issue. I struggle with letting go of the things I have no power to change. I need to be praying on it more and improving. Because as we all know, there is little anyone has control over, in a place like Haiti.

This knee belongs to a 20-year old guy named Gauzman. He is a motorcycle driver by trade and got this of course, from a motorcycle accident. I’m serious – I so wish someone would come down here and start a ministry – some sort of driver’s ed for motorcycle drivers. Yes I know, the roads are unbelievably bad but one would think that after driving on them and practicing the special techniques for Haiti driving (watch out for larger bumps/dips, garbage, and animals of all varieties) that the drivers would get to be pretty good at what they do. Not the case – motorcycles are my biggest provider of patients, along with machetes. The actual accident occurred on the 16th, on that day he went to ‘someone’s house’ who knew something about something and they told him that it needed to be sutured. He told them that he wasn’t going to let it be stitched and that was that. Sorry buddy, I hate to tell ya, it would have been far less painful to have it stitched than to deal with what it is now. The guy can barely walk; he stiffens and swings his leg around with every step. He first came here a week ago but didn’t return until today for a bandage change. Please pray that he starts caring enough to come everyday and that we get this nasty (did I mention that it made me gag the first time? Smells are my weakness) infected mess healed up.

I removed Mackenson and Gladimir’s sutures today. They both healed very well. I'm not posting after photos, just because a closed up wound isn't all that exciting anyways. :)

These are two beautiful babes that I had the privilege of meeting on Sunday. They are 3 month-old twin girls. I asked what their names were - their mom replied “Shilen and Shilin” (She-lin and She-leen) to which I said “huh?” but Tipap was quick to pipe in with the ever-popular “Ayicien Sistem” line … which just means, it’s a Haiti thing and you, silly blan, shouldn’t try to understand it. The girls had a tiny start of some rash on their scalps and the mom says they are constantly scratching it. Otherwise they looked very healthy and are in my opinion, large for their age (by Haiti standards). Rashes don’t usually get through the gate but I’m sure the Creole word ‘marasa’ (twins) made it an exception. I gave them hydrocortisone, but if it is scabies, it won’t help much. It seems that half the village has scabies, so it is not a problem that I am equipped to address anytime soon.

A little girl came with an ear infection (I know, diagnosing … but there was gunk leaking from both ears and pain – sounds like an ear infection to me). I gave amoxicillin. I’ve heard that ear infections in the US are now hardly ever treated with antibiotics and allowed to just run their course. I reasoned that it might make the pain go away faster and decided to give it a try.

This arm belongs to a baby girl, named Kiftanya, who is 19 months old. She was pictured in a post below; she is the big-eyed baby with the hat on. Her grandma brought her here on Monday. They live in the mountains in a village called Leje. It is past Petit bois which some of you who have been here on mission trips know is the town at the
top of the mountain behind us that we climb up to ... From what I hear, Leje is a long way up there, my guess is a 4 or 5 hour trip on foot. The photo is a little shocking … I was kind of beside myself when I saw it but when the grandma told me they live in the mountains, it all made sense. She went on to say ‘people in the mountains, they don’t have a chance.’ The thing that makes that sad is that it is so true. This burn happened 15 days ago from a cooking fire, and the only thing they could do was put toothpaste on it and hope it dried up. There really isn’t much help for people in the mountains and that’s not being negative – it’s being honest.

The sad news is that today the mom (who lives down our road) told me that Kiftanya will be returning with her grandmother back to the mountains tomorrow. I said “why?!” and she tried to explain to me that she didn’t want to keep the baby and that the grandma would be taking it to a ‘doctor’ in the mountains. Interesting, since the reason they came down here was to find some help with this burn because there was no doctor up there. I wanted to smack the mom upside the head, but somehow contained myself. I tried to reason with her, explaining that the burn would probably take a few weeks to heal and that with everyday dressing changes it would heal entirely. Isn’t it worth it to have to take care of your own child for a few weeks so the burn could heal? This scenario is all too common; I have to keep myself from kissing the mom’s who actually care about their babies. I don’t know how well my points came across … but she did say towards the end of the conversation that if the ‘doctor’ in the mountains doesn’t have a good ‘remed’ for the burn that Kiftanya will come back down here. I flat out asked if the doctor she was referring to was a witch-doctor. She of course said no, but I just ended by telling her that it was a bad idea to mess around with infection with such a young child. Frustrating, yes. Discouraging, definitely.

Before that, a baby came who had ingested bleach. It was not the liquid form, because I had the mom bring what the baby had eaten … they were tiny crumbs, probably of a bleach tablet that they use for washing dishes, ect. The baby, whose name I forgot to write down, somehow got into it and ate about a teaspoon-size amount. I called our good friend Dr. Jen, who is a pediatrician, to ask what to do. The internet/resource books were not giving clear answers. We have syrup of ipecac but I read that sometimes when mixed with certain substances, it makes the affects of the poison worse. I ended up giving her a glass of milk; that is actually what they came here asking for in the first place – I guess that is how they treat any poison problem. The baby was probably about 18 months and was somewhat limp and seemed tired in a sick-like way. I told them not to let her sleep but that if anything changed or got worse to go to a hospital.

Krispe came today. I don’t really know where to start …. I was explaining how the tight-socks that are coming would itch and be tight and uncomfortable but that it would help with the vein/blood-flow problems in his shin and ankle. I had turned to the side to write something down in my medical log … Krispe got up to go and then staggered down the step, collapsing on the ground. But not only did he collapse, he fell somersault style, landing on his head. Luckily Tipap and Pastor Rony were there talking and my dad was on the other side of the garage. Together, we got him off the ground to a chair – he was convulsing, making weird jerky movements. He was crunched over with his chest on his legs and making a gagging noise spitting up spit and snot. Continuing to convulse, I finally convinced Tipap and Rony to move him to a laying-down position (seriously, we were arguing about what was better. Rony kept saying ‘it will be good, just wait’ as Krispe’s convulsing and spitting up crap). Once we got him lying down, he continued to spit and snort, but also seemed to be going limp. Then the snorting, spitting sound turned into what sounded like snoring. He was now in a sleep-like state. That was weird … I obviously am not familiar with seizures and so I didn’t know if he’d had a concussion when he landed on his head – because then sleeping definitely wasn’t good. He ‘slept’ for probably 20 minutes before we finally coerced him back into consciousness. He was way out of it for about 15 more minutes and didn’t remember falling and had a scary glaze to his eyes.

By this point, I’d gone to look up ‘fits/seizures = scariness’ in the Where There Is No Doctor book.

I think Krispe has epilepsy. I really, really do. I know. I am not a doctor or a nurse. I am unauthorized to diagnose. But the symptoms were exactly like the seizures of epilepsy. And the book lists the following as factors for the cause of epilepsy in third-world countries: “it may come from brain damage at birth, high fever in infancy, or tapeworm cysts in the brain.” Those three are all very likely to occur in babies here.

I also learned later that Rony knew/ had ”heard” that Krispe does this. I guess that I was just supposed to assume that ‘tet maladity’ (sick in the head) also meant that he had seizures. Man, I can’t believe no one told me this before. One time when he almost fainted, I wonder if he wasn’t on the verge of a fit. So it’s not as if this was just from not eating and the heat. (Krispe later told us that he hadn’t had anything to eat all day … maybe what caused the onset of the seizure?) But Krispe did say that it happens more often when he doesn’t eat for a long time, but I could not get any clear answers on how often the seizures occur/when was the last time it happened. He said that he’s had them his whole life. But the problem is, his mom or somebody else, isn’t involved enough or cares enough to keep track of when the seizures occur, ect.

The guy obviously doesn’t need any more problems, it is just too much to take. Maybe it explains a lot. If, after talking with some nurse/doctor friends of mine, (it is good to have connections) we decide that he does indeed have epilepsy – there is a cheap drug (Phenobarbital) that can be bought in Haiti to help prevent fits.

How to wrap up this post? …. I guess I really don’t know what to say. Or how to say it. Sometimes Haiti is too much. But I am reminded that it is never too much with God and is totally ‘doable’ if I get over my anger/control issues and give it all to Him – and allow Him the room to give me the grace to handle it. Because clearly, there isn’t much I can do without Him in control. I’ve been trying to fool myself into thinking that I can still be in control and handle it all. But I can’t.