After spending several days in Les Caye we headed back into Port-au-Prince. Knowing that travel is hit or miss we did not dare try to drive into the city on Tuesday morning the same day as our flight. That is just crazy talk there.
On our way back into the city – Dr. Ashby wanted to stop in Leogane and check on wheelbarrow Lady’s foot.
So we stopped, talked to the “leaders” of the tent city so they could go find her and bring her to us. Darrah and Josh spent the time playing soccer with the kids. We got out the wound care supplies, walked around, talked to people and waited.
Wheelbarrow Lady was brought to us. Jenna undressed her foot and was prepared to remove more dead tissue. But there was hardly any. We cleaned it up again, the edges were pink healthy looking and bleeding. Bleeding is a good sign. That means there’s enough blood flow for it to actually heal. Blood also brings in nutrients and proteins. YAY bleeding foot. So we redressed it and gave her an orthopedic foot brace.
She had a thing for Dr. Mike… but how can you blame her. He saved her foot. She may lose one or two toes (which aren’t really needed for general walking purposes) but she’s not going to lose her whole foot.
Apparently when you do minor surgery in the middle of a field atop a cooler it attracts a crowd. Or they just wanted to see what the white people were up to.
After our “house” call we headed back to Port-au-Prince to get ready for our last day of clinic. Our organizers went out searching for a tent city to visit the next day. They found one near where we were staying. It was housing over 10,000 people.
We were awoken in the middle of the night to a 4.7M earthquake. Being awoken up to the ground making the most horrible screeching sound is not really fun. We had at least one more small earthquake that night too, I am not sure on the strength of the smaller one, the USGS website only reports Worldwide earthquakes greater than 4.5.
Over breakfast we talked about who felt the earthquake. We apparently brought a few HEAVY sleepers, who were unfazed by the shake. We drove to the tent city. As we started setting up the tarp/bus/wall clinic people started forming a line.
I am not even sure what they were lining up for. As we continued to set up there was another small earthquake. It was a very different feeling from the one over night. For starters I was standing and not laying down this time. I got the sensation of falling, like when your stomach feels like it’s in your chest. This is one of my least favorite sensations of all time. I do not like the sensation of falling. As we checked around to make sure everyone was ok (we had people atop our bus tying ropes at the time).. the people in line were screaming and running into the streets. The fear in their faces is something I have a hard time putting into words. It was heartbreaking. They live in this fear everyday. Will there be another earthquake today? Will today be the day that building or that building falls down? I can see why most people are sleeping in tents vs. buildings. After the tremor, they could see we were still setting up and not leaving people got back in line and waited.
I treated several day old babies – as in 3 and 8 days old. They were born in the tents. Their moms wanted them to receive vaccines. Unfortunately we were not able to bring vaccines with us. We do not have the coolers needed to keep the vaccines at the correct temperatures. I did tell them to try to find a UNICEF clinic – because I know they are doing vaccines. We were able to give them formula, bottles, and clothes. For the moms we were able to help with their anemia – B12 shots and vitamins. Healthier moms equals healthier babies.
We also did a few minor surgeries. I love a good incision and drainage. There’s nothing quite like draining an abscess. Maybe it’s because I’ve had one in my tonsil and having it drained was pretty much the greatest thing since sliced bread. I drained an abscess on one man’s chin. It was 3x2x1 inches. While it might not have killed him immediately, eating and drinking are out of the question with something like that causing pain.
I’ll spare you with the really gross pictures. But if you can see the slightly yellow tint on his neck. That’s the area I cleaned with iodine and where the abscess was. Nothing like healing with cold hard steel.
I was amazed with all the work we accomplished the last day. We treated over 500 patients. We saw everyone who wanted to be seen. Because it was our last day most of us gave away our shoes. This was especially hard on me. I had some random swelling of my feet – as in 3+ pitting edema. Still haven’t figured out what caused it, and I still have some of it now. So my feet would only fit in my athletic shoes. I had my flip flops and danskos. If I needed to wear socks and flip flops home, I could do it, because I do not really need the extra pair of athletic shoes at home.
That’s the lady taking my shoes. She only had worn out sandals that had holes in them. Princess puffy feet did manage to wear danskos all the way home without losing feeling in her toes.
The VCOMers – Me, Heather Class of 2010, Adrian Class of 2007, Jenna Class of 2011, and Jeanne Class of 2008.
A few pictures taken of the tent city before we headed back to the Villa Ormiso.