Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Second Week at Vet Training - By Isaac Livesay

Last week I was in Deschapelles, Haiti again and it was great the second time around.  I learned a lot again, and also got to meet some new students that joined the class.



Kelly teaching us all 



Last week we talked about diseases and epidemics in Haiti. It was really interesting. We talked a lot about how those diseases can spread and how to help the animals that get sick. Here are some of the diseases we covered: anthrax, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and rabies.

In class we even discussed about two strange but enthralling diseases in Haiti that affect horses specifically.  Lagoum, which is a virus that spreads from horse to horse and kills. The other disease is Lampa. It is an inflammation of the soft pallet (the roof of the mouth) - this disease in particular is usually caused by a cut or a burn in the mouth. It is most common during the dry season.

With diseases, you have got to have the symptoms, so we also talked about the multitude of symptoms to go along with the diseases we discussed. For example a dog with rabies is most commonly known for having a foaming mouth.

I got to Dechapelles on Sunday evening and started class Monday morning. On Tuesday we had two guest teachers. Kelly Crowdis was the main professor for the week, she is a great teacher.  With our guest teachers we talked about rabies and infectious epidemics. They talked about how imperative it is that we vaccinate as many dogs as we can to prevent rabies.  It is in your best interest to not ever be bitten by a dog. You probably knew that.  Here is a fun fact, if you do get bit - you should immediately wash the wound with running fresh water and soap for ten minutes straight. That will decrease your chances of getting rabies by 50%. Isn't that crazy?
I asked my Mom if it was okay to put a cow butt on the internet.
She said it was.

With epidemics we first talked about their characteristics, the quickness of the spread, the space or geographical area the epidemic occurs, and the duration of the epidemic. All this is crucial information because we would need to send all of this information to the government. They hopefully provide the country with useful prevention information and give warnings when possible.

Wednesday and Thursday we did a lot of hands-on work. We got to practice physical exams, giving shots, hydrating animals by passing tubes down their noses and throats, and we did a few fecal exams (that's looking for microorganisms in poop). I think that it is interesting looking at poop, but only if you find stuff in the poop.  We put the poop in a beaker thing and add solutions to it.  Then you put it on a slide before it goes on the microscope.

The most enticing hands on thing we did was to dissect a goat. It was SUPER cool. We got to see how everything would work in the body if that animal were alive. With gloves I got to touch and hold a lot of the goat's organs. I even got to hold shut an artery that was cut open. There were a lot of slimy and mushy parts. Many things looked the way I expected them to look. The thing that I was shocked by was the stomach. A goat is a ruminant, which means it has FOUR stomachs.  Can you image having FOUR stomach aches at once? The rumen, the reticulum, the omasum, and the abomasum are the four parts. It amazed me how large these four parts were.  After the dissection we each got a section of the goat to practice doing suturing.

I got the back of the goat.  We practiced suturing torn muscles. It smelled very bad. Before we started suturing we used scalpels to cut the fur off around the wound we practice stitching. It was a lot of fun.
suturing goat muscle

One day we went on a field trip to Ti Rivere. Oh my gosh! It was so amazing. The fields of emerald green grass and the land teeming with banana trees was beautiful. It got even more beautiful as we approached our final destination. At the top of the mountain there was an old fort that the Haitians used to fight off the French. From the fort we got a panoramic view of the fields and green trees and the river. In the background we could see the abundance of mighty rolling mountains and hills. Honestly, it was one most beautiful things I have ever seen in my country.  It looked like a place that National Geographic would put in their magazine. I was in awe. I hope to return to Ti Rivere on one of my future trips north.

Overall I think I enjoyed my second week in Dechapelles even more that the first. I was more comfortable with the environment and the people I was working with. There was more action and less sitting. Seeing that beautiful part of Haiti was a gift to me.

Sadly, I won't be able to be at Vet camp in July or August because I will be in El Paso, Texas seeing my big sister and nephews and taking Driver's Education for a month - which is also a good thing. I wish I could be two places at once.  I look forward to the September class and I will write again after that week.  I am excited for the summer I have planned and anxious to meet our new teacher later this month.  I get to meet my new teacher June 29th and I get to go to America July 9th.

Isaac



Sunday, June 04, 2017

Absurity Abounds (AA)

If there is any place on earth more absurd than Port au Prince, I beg of you, please do not invite me there, thank you.

Below you will read a stream of random thoughts and paragraphs about totally unrelated absurdities.  

But first, you will find a few photos of my gorgeous collection of non functional appliances.  This is not the entire collection, I don't want to overwhelm you or make you feel less-than, therefore I left out two of my most beautiful pieces of non-working metal. (Washing Machine and Dryer) 

new warm storage area with lighting
stove top still mainly works - oven came here from America and worked six days
top/freezer works if 82 degrees or cooler outside temps
Oven will still light if you slam violently on the bottom rack after lighting.
Stove-top  died years ago.
 ***


A super strong and smart and sweet young lady that we have known since her 2012 sexual assault and subsequent pregnancy (and delivery at Heartline M.C.) came by our house to visit yesterday.  She is wicked smart and doing great in school (thanks to donors and a sponsor that support her).  Due to her academic success she was chosen to go to Spain last month with a group of six students. She wanted to show me her passport and photos from the trip. This is the narration of her photos translated to English: That's the bus, that's me in the bus, that is me in the bathroom on the bus, that is me at the back of the bus, that is me at the hotel in the D.R., that is me in the bathroom of the place we had breakfast, that is us at the airport, that is me getting on the airplane, that is me in my seat on the airplane, that is the bathroom on the airplane, that is my friend and I in the mirror of the airplane bathroom, that is us in sweatshirts in the airplane because it is cold, that is the van we used in Spain, that is the bathroom on the way to our hotel in Madrid, that is a soccer player jersey, that is me with a soccer player jersey, that is me with the famous soccer player cardboard cutout, do you know him? That is the soccer stadium, that is the woman that was responsible for us in the soccer stadium, that is 77 selfies in the soccer stadium, that is a piece of pizza, that is a bowl of rice, that is me with a bowl of rice, that is me with pizza, that is a kid that liked us so we did a selfie with him, that is a drunk man we met and asked for a selfie with him, that is a bathroom mirror photo, that is another one, that is another one, another, another, another.   I determined that bathrooms and selfies are what is most important when a girl from Port au Prince gets to go to Spain.  I don't know at all what Spain looks like, because there were not any photos of outdoor Spain.  Next Sunday Troy and I will go see her graduate at the top of her class. Nobody knows she has a son that will turn five this July.  We will cheer and cry and get several hundred selfies in the bathroom if there is one.
***
Sarah is a 14 year old that is doing a great job with her little baby.  If you read this blog or follow on Instagram you have seen her gorgeous plump baby, Sophia several dozen times.  Sarah asked us to come talk to her Mom.  Sarah is having several disagreements and wanted us to try and help by explaining what we teach in our classes.  Sarah's Mom told us last Saturday night that she thinks Sarah and Sophia are "too attached". Those are the words used.  TOO ATTACHED. THIS FIVE MONTH OLD IS WELL ATTACHED AND IT IS NOT GOOD.  She went on to say that Sarah picking Sophie up when she cries is spoiling Sophie and that Sarah is messing everything up by having an attachment to her child.  Then she told us that she hits the baby on occasion. When we told her hitting babies is a reason to head to jail in the USA, she simply said, "I couldn't live there then." I had to talk to my own head non-stop while we sat there talking to Sarah's Mom.  I had to say, "Don't punch her. Don't kick her. Don't call her stupid. Don't insult her."  It was the most frustrating 30 minutes of the last week. I went home and lit the oven over and over so I could slam something.  Here we have a kid that is truly embracing and winning at motherhood at a very young age. She has a healthy, fat, secure. well-loved little baby girl and she has a Mother that is very critical of her and is constantly verbally demeaning her. I don't think the talk accomplished anything at all, except maybe to crush our spirits a bit more.  Sarah wants to live with any of us on staff at the M.C. but I cannot even begin to tell you how complicated and difficult all of that could be.  Right now, I only know to say, "Please pray" -  because I cannot find the hope to do it in this situation.  It is the bright spot of 2017 and someone wants to wreck it.
***
A mom sat down in our office the other day with her 13 year old.  The daughter got pregnant right before she turned 13. Her boyfriend is 20.  That's not a problem for anyone, that age difference is not culturally frowned upon.  Being pregnant at 13 **is** a problem though.  The Mom said, "I was making a remedy for her to drink to "take out the baby", but someone told me I should not do that without coming here to this clinic first."  We sat and talked for a long time. We had Sarah come in with Sophie and share a bit of her story. We agreed with the Mom that teen pregnancy is really hard and "not good" (mom needed to say over and over "This is not good for me").  We saw on ultrasound that the baby is a girl and is due in October.  We asked Mom if the remedy is still going to be used, she said, "No, it is too late for that now."  We told them goodbye and that we would see them next Thursday and then we sat and stared at a wall for bit.  
***

In far less consequential absurd news ...

The man we paid to fix our broken washing machine tells us on the phone every single day "I am coming now".  He thinks we don't notice that he never ever comes. Not now. Not later. The next day, we call him again, he says, "I'm coming now."  Troy says, "You are not though.  See, see how you are not here ever ever and still?"  

So the washing machine is on day 9 broken and Beth McHoul let us use her machine and Geronne did a bazillion loads wash by hand and everyone wants to hurt that guy that never comes so hard. 

The refrigerator and freezer stopped working AGAIN on Monday. Troy says it is because I bought them in the USA and you cannot buy appliances that know of the good life.  They sat in an air-conditioned room and they know about that way of life and what did I think would happen if I put that appliance on a container and shipped it to Haiti?  Did I think that refrigerator/freezer would just accept these temperatures and keep behaving and operating? You get what you get when you do stupid things like that.  

It is far too pretty to get rid of so we're going to store dry foods and dishes in it.  

In our house is a stove with six burners.  Three of the burners work.  Below the burners is an oven that worked for several whole days after we bought it.  Some component fried out and the oven portion gave out two years ago. This is not a problem because the stove/oven we had before that has no working burners with a working oven. Lighting it is noisy because there is a routine and it is noisy, but still, it lights.  So, if you wanna make a pizza in the oven, you go outside to the oven.  If you wanna fry and egg, you go to the stove in the kitchen. If you want to refrigerate your butter, too bad. Not happening, see previous paragraph.

The dryer is broken too. Nobody in Haiti has a dryer except the Livesays. The Livesays don't have one now either, so no need to hate.

The toaster makes such good toast.  
That toaster never stops doing its thing.  


The owner of our house is making security improvements due to the May break-in.  He is really a great guy. We like him so much. He has more money than God because he is a super smart business man and he has several homes with renters in them. He made the wall higher in one place and is adding double bars to the window they came in and is adding more barbed wire to the front wall.  I wish he would just give us the money he is spending because once the robbers come it is gonna be a really long time before it happens again. I'd rather use the money to buy a few more broken appliances for my collection. 

***

Twelve years ago this very month, we sat down with many of the important people in our lives and said, "We think maybe we should move to Haiti."  I think about those young people that sat down and said that, and I wonder if I would even recognize them if they were here with me today.  

Absurdity changes people. 

***

Thursday, June 01, 2017

By Isaac - Vet School in Haiti

Practicing suturing 
Hello everyone!

A couple of weeks ago (May 16-20) (5 sleeps) I had the exhilarating experience of a lifetime. I got to go to a veterinarian class in Deschapelles, Haiti.

The purpose of attending AG Horizons (The School Name)was to get educated about animals in order to be helpful in situations when animals are sick and to help educate the community around me.  Many people here in Haiti don't understand illness and infections due to a lack of education and opportunity for education.  Often people that live in the countryside own an animal. If a man has an anemic cow, he cannot necessarily identify why his cow is sick and he can lose his cow due to that lack of knowledge.  Losing an animal causes a family financial strain and hardship. So as we are being educated we are reminded on how we can help teach people how to better care for their animals and or help them with the animal.

The whole reason as to why I got to AG Horizons Vet school is really amazing. When my Mom and Lydia and I were cutting my dog's fur (Walnut) there was a scissor accident involving his ear. It was sad and Lydia cried and worried a lot about it. Later that day Kelly, our Veterinarian friend, came and examined his cut. While she was at our house I told Kelly that I want to help animals when I am older. My Mom was also telling Kelly about my plans for after high-school.  This led to Kelly telling us about AG Horizons and inviting me to come join the class. She gave me a week to decide if I wanted to try it out.  My friends and family encouraged me to go and try it, so I did.

I will never regret going! My classmates and I were educated by two vets named Janice and LeeAnne. They were REALLY COOL people.

It was a fenced in property with a few buildings. I got to stay in the main guesthouse. It was green, two stories, and quite large. There were a few rooms where students could stay. I stayed down stairs in a dorm room that had about seven other guys staying there too. The dorm was pretty big and had several bunk beds. Most people had their own bunk and did not have to use the top one.  There were 18 students total. There were two girls and sixteen boys.  The students backgrounds varied. There were students that were illierate and students that had gone to college and could read and write in French and Kreyol. There were Pastors and Farmers and younger people too. I was the youngest one in the class.

At the school I learned a lot of intriguing things. We learned about inflamation and shock. We talked about different types of shock and how it can affect the body. We discussed a lot about internal and external parasites. We learned how to identify microscopic organisms under a microscope. They even taught us how to dose medicines for an animal depending upon their weight and the concentration of the medicine.  (So, this is when I learned that math can acutally REALLY BE USED in REAL LIFE.).  We learned how to tie surgical knots (praticed on towels - see photo.  Because blood is very important we talked a lot about what makes up our blood too. We learned SO MUCH and went into a lot of detail on these topics.

Class was from 9:30 to 4 each day and I most enjoyed the down time afterschool when I could study everything I had learned that day and have a chance to read, color, and listen to my music.  I had a few friends I talked to, we all used a mixture of English and Kreyol. I was the only student with English as my first/strongest language.  It was good practice for me and I had to use my Kreyol a lot and that was great for me.

At the end of the week we had an exam.  In fact, the night before the exam, a few of the students and I stayed up very late studying together with Janice the Vet Professor.  For a long time we worked out equations on the chalkboard.  When the test came the next day, I got 115 out of 120 points. I was SO ECSTATIC.  All the students congraulated me on my good grade.

I will never forget this far-out experience I had. It was good for me to step out of my comfort zone and do something by myself (without any of my family with me).  There are 10 more weeks total.  I go again in mid June and will go once per month for many more months.  I have a lot to learn.  I plan on using the skills and knowledge I am obtaining to help animals in Haiti.  Eventually, when I get older and get to a certain point in my education, I will begin working on animals under the supervison of a Veterinarian.  That has me VERY psyched.  Whenever it comes time for me to leave Haiti, I want to attend Vet school where I can further my education.  In America, I think I would rather work with dogs and cats. Here in Haiti I will be working with pigs, sheep, horses, cows, goats, donkey, and some dogs.

That is all for now, friends.  I will update you after the June class.   Thanks for reading.