Dr. P. Haiti April 2014 Fifth Post

It's hard to go back to work after a couple days in Paradise! Especially in dusty, trafficy, crowded, HOT Port-au-Prince! Monday, we went to one of the school's supported by the Foundation. I have been there before and was greeted by the Principle Adelaine. Not too many people were waiting for us which gave us a chance to get organized and figure out how to see people. We had a gyn station in the principle's office, with a bed with stir-ups! What a luxury! Alas...we forgot the luggage of vitamins! Errrrr! But had plenty of condoms, aspirin and even purchased some more iron and worm medicine. It was a short day but we were all melting and overheated. Margaret had somehow got the message to the driver that she wanted ice-cream and we stopped at a super market. "What are we doing here?" I ask groggily. "Margaret wants ice-cream." And soon we all stumbled out of the bus into the wonderfully air-conditioned market and came alive with idea of buying cold drinks and ice cream. Best idea yet! 
    That night we had our last "huddle" where we shared our favorite experiences and accolades. Elaine and I congratulated the students on a job well done. Everyone lauded Ella for her hard work. She even mentioned that she now "might" consider medicine! Ha! We all thanked Dr. G for her generosity and good teaching. I am soooo thankful to her. Who would have thought over 20 years ago when we were medical students we would be leading a team of students to Haiti together. And yet bringing her eldest kid?! How cool is that?! We worked on our "by laws" for our NGO on the patio in the breeze outside of the guest house Monday eve. Pretty cool! I hugged her good bye early the next morning as she and Ella left for the airport. One more day.
   That day we saw scores of patients. A lot more kids...we brought the vitamins, hallelujah! Each kid and many adults received the vitamins (with iron) and a toothbrush. As we ran out of prenatal vitamins, many were instructed to take 2 kids vitamins a day...and brush your teeth :) The rest were given to the orphanage, so I'm sure they will be used well. Overall, there seemed to be less anemia and not as many people with super high blood pressures compared to Mussote. Alas we ran out of pain medication, so we used the aspirin (it took me a while to remember that we could use aspirin for pain relief!) that we had found and the pediatric ibuprofen that we had a ton of...3 doses of 400 mg in each bottle. not bad!                           
    There was one woman in her 20's that came in with her husband carrying her.  Apparently, she was unconscious for 2 months and hospitalized for 6 months. She progressively lost her ability to walk. We were thinking maybe MS but then Ella said "polio?" Yes! That was probably it! On the drive to Mussote, I spoke with Dr. Gousse to understand the vaccination situation in Haiti. Vaccines for polio, diptheria, meningitis, hepatitis, measles, tetanus are free but each person needs to take their kids to a hospital that participates in a vaccine program. Most of the small town hospitals can't afford such a program and the rural folk have no access to vaccines at all. If there was a hospital in Mussote, they would start a vaccine program. Because these infections aren't endemic to Haiti, there's not a big push to vaccinate everyone. However, I know that after the earthquake, many people died of tetanus, especially kids.  I'm adding vaccinating all kids to my list of many wishes for Haiti...the working list is sanitation, trash pick-up, roads (though there has been improvement with that), traffic lights, recycling, food security, housing security, security, health care for all, job opportunities, free education, reforestation, care for all street animals/spade&neuter. As we see the many kids that play with us and spend time with our friends in Haiti (especially the 5 Stooges....I've dubbed as the 5 translator boys who all call me mom), the people here are full of life and laughter and good spirits. It's the rest of Haiti that needs continued structuring to best provide these human rights that we all deserve.
    We saw 150 people in 2 days at the school...giving out lots of "acid stomach" medicine. We did 51 paps there in 2 days. The students will probably have done more paps in the last 10 days than most doctors! We did 70 paps in Mussote for a total of 121 paps! Last year of the paps we did, one came back "high grade" which means near cancer. It's great to be able to do paps on women who many times never had had a pap before! We treated a lot of STDs and gave out 3,600 condoms!!!! We saw more patients this trip then ever before, which feels great. We had a lot of blood pressure medicine, cholesterol medicine and aspirin medicine left over, which I'm giving to Gladys to give to Dr. Goulos to continue treating the hundreds of people we saw in Mussote with hypertension. We also had a lot of acid reducer left which we were also able to give to Dr. Goulos. I emailed him saying to tell his father to start preaching the importance of medicine compliance. I'm sure it's in the bible somewhere! Hopefully he can continue their medication throughout the year. That's my goal: to make sure those with chronic conditions have treatment year-round.
    I was reflecting on our trip and I realized that in the last 5 years, 37 students have experienced poverty medicine in Haiti through this program. That's a lot of future doctors that will commit to working with the impoverished in their future lives and through the ripple effect touch thousands of people's lives in ways we can't even imagine. Already, many students have committed to working with the poor and work internationally. Many have expressed they want to be able to bring students to impoverished areas when they are attendings.  Many have continued their leadership roles with this program. Three are officers for our latest venture, H.E.A.L. I love contributing to creating leaders that make significant differences in people's lives. I met a UN officer today at the Port-au-Prince airport. We shared stories. He's from Columbia. I told him about my life. He ended by saying, "I wish you well in your perfect life." I said, "I'm not sure it's perfect." He quickly replied, "But it is." He's right. It is perfect. He made me say it to him. "My life is perfect."
    Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed to my "perfect life". If you feel moved/inspired to contribute financially, we're still accepting donations to pay for this past "perfect" trip.  Hugs to all. "Dokta" Susan. :)