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Getting Into the Swing of Things

Well, here we are. Our last full day of medical work in Haiti. It seems so unreal that this past week has gone by this fast. Today was another early morning for us as we loaded up in the tap-tap and drove to a large public school in the mayor’s community. We had many of the mayor’s workers wanting to help us in any way they could in setting up our clinic because they are just SO grateful that we are here doing “good works” for their people.
The clinic today was similar to yesterday where we had Mandy and Taylor checking vitals and de-worming patients. Then they would filter people either to me at my make-shift pharmacy or shuttle them into a waiting line to visit with Dr. Bosworth—who would give them a prescription (if they needed it) and send them back to me. Getting the prescriptions challenged me sometimes because it has been a while since I have read pharmacy “instruction shortcuts.” For example, “BID” means “twice a day.”

            In total, I think we treated around 210 people for parasites today. We also tried to give everyone—especially the children—malaria medication. This whole week, some of the most difficult medication dispensing cases came from children and babies who absolutely did NOT want any medication for malaria or other antibiotics because of the terrible taste. You could tell that the parents wanted their kids to be treated, so they would help us hold the kids’ mouths open and force the medicines down their throat. One especially tough example of this happened today when there was a little girl, probably age 5 or 6, who we were trying to give malaria medication to. I tried to have her swallow the pills with lots of water but she gagged and spit them back out. Then we tried crushing the pills, adding it to ibuprofen (basically sugar), and using a syringe to get the medicine in her system…but she spit it out all over the floor. This little girl would seriously do everything in her power to get away from us; she cried, hid behind her mom, ran into a corner, and screamed at the top of her lungs. Mandy even tried bribing her with chocolate if she would take the medication. Finally, Michael came out from helping Dr. Bosworth and was successful in having the mother hold the little girl and got her to swallow the pills. It is not a good feeling to watch kids struggle as we force them to take medicine because we so deeply want to help them feel better.

            The best part of my day was watching Dr. Bosworth perform a minor surgery on the man with the voodoo/magic armpit infection. It was AMAZING to witness this surgery. Before beginning this surgery, we had to sit down and consider one important decision: by carrying out this surgery, are we doing less harm than if this man did not undergo surgery at all? After making the decision to perform the surgery, because it was likely that the man would have no other option financially, we had to find a local anesthetic because the man would pass out any other time Dr. Bosworth would try to squeeze out the pus and other debris inside this wound. Michael contacted a clinic and was able to get an anesthetic, so we pushed together two large desks and got our gloves on. Without getting into too much graphic detail from the surgery itself, I had so many emotions running through my head. I was grossed out by the blood clots and debris that came out of this wound, nauseated by the strong smell of iron from the blood (not to mention there was barely a breeze coming from the one window in the enclosed room), amazed by Dr. Bosworth’s ability to perform such a surgery with limited medical supplies, and simply in awe of the man’s pain tolerance. This guy would always tell Michael that he had little pain or no pain—he only claimed to have intense pain once or twice. After we cleaned up our mess and bandaged the man up, Dr. Bosworth gave him instructions on how to care for his wound to prevent it from becoming further infected by bugs, dust, etc.

            This trip was only a week long, so I have mixed emotions about going back to the U.S. tomorrow. I have had so much hands-on experience that I want to keep going with this medical work in Haiti because I see the good that it is doing for the communities we have been reaching out to…but I also recognize that I have to get back to Augie and get back into my normal routine of studying and homework because Spring Break is unfortunately coming to an end.