Monday, March 29, 2010


Mom left with little boy today..apparently the food we were serving her wasn't to her liking...I have run the rollercoaster of emotions at many different times in my life (those who know me know that well!) but today I feel like the coaster maybe coming off the tracks...I don't pray usually but tonight I'll hope and pray that the little peanut is somehow still feeling my arms wrapped around him..keeping him warm and safe....

Monday's my second favorite day....

I have many friends who have children and although I can agree with them that there is nothing like the sound of a child's laughter I never really understood until about 30 mins ago.

In my previous post I told you all about the malnourished boy who had found his way to our clinic and into my heart (yes I know something easily done but this child is exceptional..) For the past two nights I have struggled with wanting to rescue this little boy from his seemingly apathetic mother and with wanting to help his mother see what a wonderful,special sweet young boy she try and make her love him the way I did after only knowing him for 12 hours.

In that struggle I have been holding him, feeding him, interacting with him, as it is apparent he doesn't get much in the way of interactions...and just trying to provoke an type of emotion from him but to no avail..all I saw was a sad, apathetic little boy..but that all changed this morning....

and maybe its because laughter and smiles took too much energy, energy he didn't have or maybe in us he finally had something to smile any case the sound of his laughter to my ears this morning was golden and I think I can honestly say I have never had a moment like that before, one where i felt as if my heart could fly...

somethings telling me that Monday's might not be that bad after all!!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The good and bad...

Life, I have come to see is always a mixture of good and bad; happiness and sadness and positives and negatives and yesterday was of no exception...except that although the good outweighed the bad in numbers the weight on my heart and conscience does not balance out...lise 1, life in Haiti 2....

The Good: I will sandwich in order to make the bad not so bad...I have all told you about Emmanuel and the disfigurement caused to him by a falling brick in the earthquake. How I had hoped that one day the miracles (or what i thought would require miracles) of modern plastic surgery would be able to give him back the face of the little angel he is (although at times truly a 3 year old). I had also told you all how Barbie (our Physicians Assistant) had found a pediatric plastic surgeon at the Miami Field Hospital willing to operate on Emmanuel. Well Emmanuel returned to us yesterday and I am so happy to say that he now has the face of that angel..with the 3 year old attitude to match! And I have decided to post pictures so you can have a true appreciation for this remarkable little man, his mother and the wonderful surgeon at the Miami Field Hospital...(pictures to follow.. I promise!)

The Bad: I have often read about childhood malnutrition, especially in third world countries..famine, floods, other natural disasters on top of corrupt governments using food as a source of control over its citizens and I cannot truly speak of all the political/economic/logistical causes of food shortages in these countries. What I can speak of is what I have seen and until Friday night I had never seen up close and personal the outcomes of malnutrition in children.

Here's the "bad" story in the sandwich...On Friday night after a very long day for Barbie and an equally long, sleepless start to night shifts for me we had a mom bring in a child at 1030pm stating that this child had not eaten for 14 days and had been having diarrhea. As I stood and watched this young, apathetic mom essentially manhandle her son I found myself rushing to judgement..

"this is breaking my heart Barbie, she doesn't even care or maybe she does and that's why she's finally here.."

After unwrapping this poor soul from the dirty blanket he came in it was revealed that he had on no diaper and a very dirty, smelly shirt.

"how old?" "18months"

Poor little soul, crying looking at mom with a look in his eyes I have never seen before as if to say "I'm scared of you but I love you.." Possibly the worst look I have ever seen before in my life..

One of our translators talking to mom..."she wants to go but I told her she can't", my 19 year old translator is telling the 19 year old mom she cannot leave her baby because its not right...?

"how much does he weigh so we can get medications ready"

"15 pounds" 18 months and 15 god I just don't can a mother let her child not eat for 14 days and how come it took her so long to seek medical attention..? He can not hold himself upright, no strength, nor can he walk now, not since the "illness"

"this is Haiti..some mom's do that. They don't feed their kids and then when they die, they say it was God's will.."
After all the medical interventions and crying are done I pick up the little man and mom goes to lie down. This poor soul collapses against my chest..having a place to lay his head that hopefully for the moment gives him some comfort and safety that life has left out for him so far...
I spent the rest of my night and the better part of the next morning just holding this little more interested in the male friends/dad that came to visit...but I'm trying to reserve judgement. Beth, our midwife spoke with mom yesterday and tried to reinforce that children need to be cared for, they need to be fed, cleaned and loved in anyway possible but I'm not sure she gets it. This is the way of life in Haiti for some children Beth explains to does it change? Well education about birth control, child spacing, parenting to name a of young girls, changes in societies norms surrounding women and reproduction, better pre-natal and post-natal care to name a few more... This little man is still with us, eating Medika Mamba ( and the fried food he's become accustomed too with a little smattering of formula for good measure..and then he will go home to god knows what and I am struggling to not let myself go just seems so unfair for some..

And although I am heavy hearted and I just don't feel like ending with something happy (because I want you to feel like me..fired up about the millions of children that die each day due to malnutrition and limited/no access to clean drinking water) I have promised I will do just that! I have also told you about Wony. A great young, talented boy who had wounds not cared for for weeks post the quake resulting in fly larvae growing in his wounds amongst other things. Last week we were worried that he had developed another infection as his eye had become more puffy..good news! Miami hopsital also operated on him and turns out no infection just a lymphatic drainage issue which has now hopefully been resolved...hopefully!

Life is sad and happy; good and bad; hard and easy and I know life must balance out somewhere along the way I'm just not sure its here in Haiti tonight...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Where's the AID?

Below I have posted some really good articles about things/people down here. The other day I went to the the epicenter of the Earthquake and I am still trying to formulate my thoughts around that experience. It was beautiful, this country for all that is not beautiful about it, is strikingly scenic and lush with amazing pockets life that to me are utterly beautiful..yet with massive amounts of destruction..imagine your neighborhood/community then imagine not one building still standing..not one in some places!

For all that I saw yesterday I have been thinking about outward "appearances" vs realities, not only in my own experiences but more importantly in the experiences of the people of this country...I am not sure of the dollar amount of money raised to "help Haiti" and from all "outward appearances" there are many different organizations appearing to be doing something in this country but are they the "somethings" that are needed and who's deciding the directions..because after reading the below articles I have to wonder...

Yesterday I saw many different vehicles driving around with different logos from different AID/NGO agencies on them. Outwardly it appeared that there are many "camps/tent cities" set up all over the places with some order to them, not a bad thing on appearances..but are the people living in theses tent cities actually receiving the help they need..the food, the supplies, the medical care that all the money that has been poured into these agencies by me and you, are supposed to be providing. I think a closer look would reveal the answer to be no.. and who's to blame? I know a lot of finger pointing will ensue..corrupt governments, corrupt agencies bureaucratic red tape...And the pointing will keep going, all the while people of Haiti will continue to not receive the help they need....

I am of the mindset, and maybe naively so but none the less I am of the thoughts that people/organizations that set out to do work in places like these are well-intended and meaning. My fear tho is that those intentions and meanings get lost somewhere along the way in meetings and schedules and policies set out by people nowhere near the crisis/problem.. I am also of the mindset that in order for any person/country to arise out of disaster the motivation must come from within, aided by the people with the means.

I do believe that the people of Haiti need to hold their government more accountable for their actions or in this case lack of actions for the betterment of life in Haiti. But we as outsiders aiding in the healing process need to hold the people we give our monies and support too accountable for their processes as well.

I am in no way an expert on the functions of NGO'S/AID agencies and my intent is not to be critical of them. All I am doing is sharing my thoughts and telling what I have seen and heard...I have had emails from many of you saying you support me and I know many of you have either contributed money to me and or other organizations and for that I am thankful. The one thing that I guess I have learned and hope that you will also take away from this, is to not just blindly throw money at something..investigate the organization..have they worked in the country before, are they truly invested in the people of that country and is what they proposing to do feasible? I know its easy to just throw money at something at times, especially when there is a crisis but don't just throw your money doesn't benefit anyone in the long run except maybe those who are wanting to keep up appearances!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

more pictures

Nursing care.. Pele: a neighborhood the truck goes too
A typical street in PAP

Signs like this everywhere.

the womens program making purses. they have just now moved back inside.

sweet rose

a typical tent city where people are living!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

great day

The thing that I have come to realize with disaster relief is that it's just that "relief"...usually preformed by groups that are not in for the long-term...and although very good and much needed the real trick appears to be in figuring out who does "the follow-up", the longer term stuff. Thus is where we are at (at least from what I have seen..) and the trick for the team (mainly Barbie) is finding people/groups willing to take on our clean-ups, follow-ups etc...and today Barbie was the holder of the magic horseshoe....!!!

Although most of our patients will need longer term physical and more importantly mental services we have a few patients for which time is more of the friend Emmaunual who is in need of intensive facial reconstruction; Wony, who is worrying us because his face seems to have become more "puffy" (please read about Wony on Beths blog on the Heartline website!) and we are wondering if he has had a recurrence of an infection or something else and Amanda, a poor young lady trapped under a building with extensive injuries, one of which has left her arm useless and very painful (anyone knowing a specialist in brachial plexus injuries please let me know!) Since many of the organizations we have partnered with are scaling down or don't have people coming to replace them we (Barbie and Jen) have been left to find people willing to take on these particular cases...and today as if almost sent from Heaven Barbie found surgeons willing to take on each of our urgent cases...and not just any surgeons but ones with specific expertise in the fields we needed (all except the Brachial plexus case, but she did find an anaesthesiologist specializing in pain management who put in an apparatus the will essentially allow us to "block" the pain for the time being!)
And to top it off they were all seen today (time is, I am finding a relative thing here in Haiti, kinda like Africa time!) AND...Emmanual and Wony are both going for surgery tomorrow!! I could have kissed Barbie when she told fact I hugged her and was doing a little dance of joy in the "office"!!

Then to end the day Barbie and I (with the help of others..Hands On Brian,baby holder extraordinary!!) got our first under a week old IV...I just about got it and know what I did wrong for next time Jen!!) Not that we wanted to be starting an IV on a new baby but it had to be done...even took a picture! (need to get the card reader from Jessica) not sure if the baby needed that much tape but that puppy's not going anyplace!

Am off tomorrow, well sort of. Am going to take a trip out of the city towards the epi-center with the guys then will try and do more clean-up at the old surgical site at the women's center. Oh and guys the garden is starting to sprout...nice work!

Off to bed for an early start to my day off! 6am! ouch...What a great day!! Here's to follow-up following up on us!!

Love you all

Monday, March 22, 2010


"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or works to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a little ripple of hope...and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples to build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance"
Robert Kennedy
I must admit that before the earthquake Haiti was not on my radar..although it is the poorest country in "the Americas" and a short 2 hour plane ride from Miami it was never really a place I had given much thought too. That of course has changed in the last 2 months. Many of you have sent me emails and kind words about the work I am doing here and I appreciate them but I think that for me Haiti is a reflection of what I am not seeing in my life back home. Although we have the "luxury" of a relatively stable social safety net the thing that my time here has shown me is that I need to be more involved in my community, take more pride in it and work to improve not only the world but my own backyard...
Time and time again the issue here has been raised in conversation that in order for there to be lasting change for the people of Haiti the will and determination needs to come from within. And for me I think it lies within the children of Haiti. It lies in the Kenny's who have to fight everyday for survival, the Emmanuals who will face a lifetime of judgement based upon how he looks and in the Wony's who all have the ability and only need the opportunity to move a nation...
I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing people down here all wanting to help this country get back not to the place it was before the earthquake but to a better place...One of the people I met down here said it best for me (sorry for "borrowing" your thoughts Bill but I am giving you credit :)) the rebuilding of Haiti is not something that will occur over the next few months or years but it will require a generation to doesn't mean that it shouldn't start now and on the truck the other day it was nice to see CATS out clearing away rubble, men rebuilding a wall and people using whatever means necessary to start the clean up!! But this will be a long time in the building and I for one will be sure that Haiti as well as my own backyard stays on my radar for a long time to come...

more pictures

Sunday, March 21, 2010

still love sundays...

Although I have only had about 4 hours of sleep (courtesy of the dogs, roosters and full piece band playing in the yard over) I still love Sundays!
I am sitting out on the patio listening to the sounds of the day, enjoying a gentle breeze and watching the sun slowly lower in the sky! I am learning, or should I say re-learning that the simple things in this life are what matter and I am so grateful to be able to enjoy them!

This trip has already clarified many things for me in my life...I already knew this life can be so short but I don't know if I have ever truly lived in a way that embraces it begins..with this my favorite day! I am grateful for many things today mostly old and new friendships, grateful for the opportunity to move forward with my life and for all the opportunities that lay in front of me....

Enjoy your Sundays...

love lise

night shift

i have just written a long post on my facebook site but cannot transfer it over for some reason..computers are not my speciality..and definitely not at 230am!

Night shift is going well, cool breeze flapping the tarps but no rain which is nice...needing to help the mom's with breastfeeding, not an all too familiar area for me..especially trying to provide direction in creole..but we are getting there! most of the mom's here do not like to breastfeed as Nestle came in a number of years ago (seeing a large baby market) and convinced the women of Haiti (and many other developing countries) that formula was better..for them maybe but not for the poor women and babies here. Formula is expensive (families don't have a lot of expendable income for stuff like that), needs to be mixed with clean water (not always available and also expensive) and is not as good for the babies as breast milk so we are all on the breastfeeding only kick here which is great and has required me to bone up on old, long forgotten knowledge...

I find the night shift interesting also because although our little clinic is winding down there always seems to be more people then the night before, some man who is on crutches and missed his bus so is staying the night, the pastors daughter who has been here for weeks but no longer needs to be here along with multiple family members and staff of the orphanage that still work here..there are cots and mattresses strewn everywhere you look and's neat, kinda like one big perpetual sleepover with a bunch of people thrown together by circumstance...oh and don't forget the 2 dogs and 2 security guys...

I was able to go to the women's center today and look at the purses. They are well-made originals and are not expensive at all. They are made by some of the women at the women's center and the women that make them have to pass a course prior to making them for quality control standards. The women use old Singer sewing machines and I will post pictures of them when I get back to the house. Its a great program that provides these women with income combined with training. The women receive I believe 30% of the profits directly and the rest go into materials and other areas of programming at the center. In North America we can have "purse parties" which I plan on having when I return so all of you guys who have had me attend your parties in the past get ready (yes you know who you are my Optionelle/pampered chef/norwex friends to name a few!)

Must head out and do a round...its neat to walk amongst the sleeping people..they are literally sleeping out in the open (most still won't sleep inside for fear of another quake)...It makes me appreciative of the fact that I have a roof over my head and a place to call home...sure could use a warm shower right about now... :)

goodnight everyone, thanks for listening


Saturday, March 20, 2010

the truck video

Sorry everyone the truck video was taking too long to upload. will try again later! have a great day!

The truck

So tonight I start the first of nights for a little while anyways...Yesterday I had the opportunity to go out on "the truck". After the quake one of the guys John and Beth knows asked them if they would come out to his neighborhood because people out there needed help and no one was coming to help them. Thus "the truck", a sort of make-shift clinic on wheels/ambulance began going out mon/wed/fri to neighborhoods no other AID organizations were going into.They brought patients back to the clinic that needed more attention then could be given in the field.They casted and splinted people, did wound care, started antibiotics on people and people would come back week after week to get care. A lot of the original patients in the clinic came from these neighborhoods. Many were found with infected wounds, broken bones and severely malnourished babies (Kenny was found on one such trip weighing 3 pounds!) Its an amazing thing to watch and although yesterday we only had a few patients in the neighborhood we went too it was obvious that the people living there have appreciated the care that has come to them via "the truck"
The below video is of the neighborhood we went into. Alex is one of the guys volunteering with Heartline from LA. All the kids love him as you can tell! Notice the dangling power cords etc. We sat on the top of the truck but had to be weary of things hanging down!!

The clinic is also winding down. We are no longer taking walk-in patients which is too bad as its the only free clinic for the people in this immediate neighborhood but we just can't anymore with most of our medical staff are leaving in the near future. And our inpatients are slowly leaving too. A lot of these patients really have no place to go and I have heard talk that John and Beth are possibly planning on allowing a few stay on at Heartline till they can figure out the best possible place for them.

As for the future of the clinic that is being we will have to wait and see.
I am going to head off now to see the women's clinic as I have not been there yet. The women's clinic was up and running before the earthquake and encompasses a prenatal program and birthing clinic. I also understand that it was the original operating place in the first days. There is also a women's program run out of it where the women make purses etc and they are sold in North America with the women seeing the profits of the same. I will get more information about this as this is something that I strongly believe in...

till later...
one of the neighborhoods we went thru that had most of the houses destroyed
garbage pilled up on the sides of the road. this is all over port au prince.

tent cities like this one are also all over Port Au Prince. This is where people live and if your lucky you have a tent or tarp, if your not you have a sheet up over some concrete.

This is what happens in a country when you don't recycle..plastic and styrofoam and garbage pilled up in an aquaduct in the middle of downtown

Thursday, March 18, 2010

more pictures

The rains came..

I have not written in a while and it has mostly been because I am too tired at night..I often look at Jen (our Dr.) and wonder how she does it...she's amazing! Anyways, sad day at the clinic today..the little baby we basically coded the other day had died and her mom (who was staying with us) had to be told...I have consoled many people in my career but one can only feel helpless in a situation like that. Not knowing the language, not being able to communicate my sympathies to this poor mom..I just sat with her for a while and hoped that she would feel the love I was sending her...
Also my little Rose (the little girl I feel in love with the other day) had come back yesterday with an even higher temperature and we kept her overnight..poor grandma loves this little girl but I could tell that she is worn out. She promised to come to the women's clinic each week tho to get more formula for Rose so hopefully she does do that.. the good thing was that she looked 100% better this morning before she left..I just hope the little peanut grows up big and strong...I did have a tear in my eye when she left today...
And to top it off tonight the rain started and as I sit here it has yet to let up..well maybe it let up a bit. We have tarps over the courtyard and hopefully they will stand the night but the lower parts of the courtyard are flooded with nowhere for the water to go..there is a group of guys from Colorado here right now with a few engineers and a guy who grew up in North Dakota (so "i know a little about flooding") so hopefully they will figure something out for tomorrow! Because if they don't we are going to have a mosquito/malaria breeding ground in our own backyard!

Life in Haiti seems to be an everyday health care, no infra-structure, no promises of a better or new tomorrow because there does not appear to be any leadership or movement...things are still the same as they were 2 months ago and maybe will be this way in 10 years from now....
I do know tho that the people of Heartline and this little clinic have and are making a difference in the lives of those they are caring for! Tonight I got to be a part of a procedure where the patient is put under sedation (on a plastic table held up by saw-horses) and watched as our drs moved patients legs that have not been moved in months, breaking up scar tissue..this will help them tremendously in their ability to walk properly again. I know that so many patients in this country would not have the benefit of this type of care and its all because of the hard work of our medical staff (namely Dr. Jen Halverson)

Oh and I have managed to pick up a great case of Scabies..that one is for you Ashley (don't worry I have been medicated and will descabify before I come home!)! I don't think my trip would have been complete had I not picked up something and the great thing is I would not have changed anything because I got them from playing with my little friend Emmaunual..
So now I will head off and try to the gentle sounds of the rains trying not to think of all the people sleeping in tents(or just hoping that they will be strong enough to hold up to these rains..)
11 straight days of 12-13 hour shifts...time is sure flying!
goodnight all

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

to the moon...

today was a long, busy day..13 hours of work.."i don't work this hard at home and i get paid for that..." fell in love with a beautiful 3 month old little girl who's mother had died and who along with 7 others is being cared for by grandma and am feeling somewhat disconnected from some that I love...need to get some sleep to fight off the cold that is trying to come so will hopefully write more tomorrow...wouldn't change anything for the world.
thank you all for the wonderful emails and notes..Margie, I get to sleep on a wonderful bed, inside, away from the rain unlike many in this country, Shutz thank you for the update! am sure Molly learned all she needed to about partying from you cause it wasn't me! Elaine, thank you for the emails. And thank you to all my friends from work, Heather and Elaine, your hygiene packs go home with each patient..a little starter kit if you will for some who are starting out again in this life.
Goodnight everyone. Love you to the moon and back....

Monday, March 15, 2010


So I have decided to hold off on telling you about my trip through the city for the time being..until I have the time to put my full attention so as to do it the justice it deserves..which I hope I can do....

Tonight finds me sitting once again in the dark,fending off mosquito's in order to get a good Internet connection...although a bit tired and fighting off my first cold in many years I want to share with you my day....

After taking less then 24 hours to turn around from night shift today started out IV needing to be restarted, medications to be given, all pretty normal stuff...Until in the middle of starting the IV one of the "jack of all trades" guys Chris comes around the corner "Lise they need all you guys in there, there's a sick baby"....(internal dialogue)"crap I'm not good with babies, medically they scare me...crap" running into the clinic.

Dr. Jen and Barbie are leaning over a 9 day old baby starting an IV, rubbing the baby "come on baby, breathe..." Baby is breathing on her own, but just barely requiring supplemental breaths. Dr. Halverson gets the IV and antibiotics,glucose, fluids all still not breathing well on her own..weight=3.3pds..poor little thing. Barbie gets a nasogastric tube down and we continue to help the little baby breathe with the help of a ambu O2..
Dr. Halverson..."Chris is the truck ready,we need to take this baby to Miami field hospital" still needing help breathing...into the truck Barbie and Jen and off to brought babe in for an infected umbilical cord. Jessica, head nurse triage's baby and sees she is barely breathing..all this ensues while poor mom sits outside the "exam room"

Jen and Barbie return and baby is intubated (tube to help breathing) at Miami field Hospital (lucky they let us in, the night before Barbie had to take a possible typhoid peritonitis to the hospital but was told by the Haitian guard that "all the drs have gone home,hospital is closed"..I'll get into that later!) Poor mom is staying with us tonight and will get to go tomorrow and see her heart broke for her tonight as I watched her sit and I am sure feel so helpless...I can't even fathom what she is thinking, feeling...not that at a time like this there are any words that one can offer to ease the uncertainty or hopelessness one must feel, that this mom may be feeling and there are no words to provide her solace...,only time and hope that baby will be strong enough to get through this....

The group of professionals that I have had the great opportunity to work with are amazing. Jen and Barbie were absolutely amazing..calm, cool and collected..I can't believe how much I have learned all ready!!

And that was just the first hour of my day.....

off to bed, more tomorrow if the time allows

Sunday, March 14, 2010

city tour...

I have just returned from a tour of the city and am sitting here trying to find the words..they are not coming. My heart breaks for the people of Haiti and yet there is so much potential that I see in the eyes of many people here..I just can't find the words and need to process this experience to be able to better descibe it for you all the while honoring the dignity of so many wonderful people who call this country and city home...

until then i must shower as it looks like i will have to work again tonight..our staff is amazing, simply amazing 24/7 so no complaints...

till later
love you all

Sunday, my favorite day....

Sunday has always been my favorite day and I have a feeling that today will be no exception...I have just got home from my first solo night shift (well almost solo...with 2helpers and an interpreter/helper..) and the night went well...

At the clinic we have people who are there for many different reasons and who range in age from 4 days-around 70 and I have had to become a "jack of all trades..master of...well maybe a few!?"

Last night we helped a family who's mother was dying..this family truly loved their mother and it showed. The mothers wish was to be at home and the family was able to secure a truck to take her back to her home...3 hours away..I must say I have never administered morphine in the back of a truck before but I did last night. Although I feel we all go through the act of dying alone, this women was surrounded with such love that the journey to her final moments on earth brightened even my heavy heart. It is very hard to watch anyone die but I feel that the caring compassionate Drs. at the clinic ensured that this women had the dignity in death that should be afforded all persons.

And as life would have it last night I was also involved with caring for a being only beginning her life on this earth. A baby that was born at our women's center 5 days ago was hospitalized with an infection requiring IV antibiotics and hydration. I must admit I have never been "responsible" for caring for a child that small. Her parents are wonderful and attentive, waking up to feed her via a syringe every 2 hours. As anybody who knows me and nursing babies they will tell you I don't do babies...they scare me and only because of my inability yo communicate with them but to be honest aside for "pushing" her antibiotics and providing encouragement to mom and dad for feedings I really didn't have to do much... Baby is beautiful.

And this morning I played with a little 3 year old boy, who's picture I won't post out of respect for him but this little boy had his nose almost ripped off in the quake..he is 3 and has had and will have to have numerous facial surgeries...but he is 3 and has everyone at the clinic wrapped around his finger..he is alive, happy, he sings, colors,he hands me crayons and tells me what to color..he's bossy....and I don't tell you his story so you will take pity on him I tell you it so you will think next time when you see someone who has had the misfortune of being disfigured and I hope you will think about Emmaunel and know that although the outside may be damaged the inside is the thing that truly matters because you can't help but love this boy....and he makes me smile..simply smile because to him life is great and I hope against hope for his sake life will always show him the love he receives from the fellow patients of our clinic because he is so loved and lovable!!!

It always amazes me the things we do or work toward attaining in the "modern" world can make life so difficult..our attachment to money and things I feel at times only keeps us from really living and experiencing life. Yes, I sit here typing on a laptop and will send this out into cyberspace via satellite Internet and in this I am well aware that I too am attached to things that make my life easier and easier to have relationships so...I do not feel that all of our attainments are "bad". Last night I felt very attached to life and the simplicity of birth and death and the relationships we develop in the times in between. The people of Haiti didn't have much to begin with, then they experience a tragedy of which many of us in the "modern" world would struggle to recover from. But its the relationships I have seen only at the clinic patients and families and friends (I usually see more family at the clinic then I do patients on a regular basis) that make me think that life will go on for these people and hopefully it will be a tad better then it was before...

I must get some sleep now..I will be going on a tour of the city later on with John McHoul and will try and post later if I can! and don't worry Margie..they are feeding me well!! Mom and dad, glad to hear the trip is going well and I'm doing fine for supplies besides it's doubtful anything would get to me anyways but thanks! Maybe win a big one so I can continue to do stuff like this, only subsidized...:)

As an aside from this I wanted to tell you all to checkout the Heartline website and read some of the blogs on there. The people of Heartline have been in Haiti for a longtime and will be here for a long time to come...They are thinking of opening a clinic in the future and it is much needed! The people of Heartline on the ground, they understand Haiti and they work so closely with the people. It has been a privilege to be able to work with them..I am so grateful to be part of an organization working with and not "for" the people here!!!

So sunday continues to be my favorite day because its always a day of reflection and anticipation of things to come and I think I am in for so many more things to come my way!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sleep won't come...

So here I sit, having had 4 hours of sleep after my first night shift and I am just not used to the heat yet (+32C right now) so sleep will have to come later...Thank you everyone for your comments and emails, they are appreciated and I am sorry I cannot respond to them all individually...

I promised my Nurse friends that I would post something more specifically about the type of nursing I am doing down here so I will try and give you a glimpse of what I am doing... The clinic is set up in what used to be a boy's orphanage and it's proven (at least for me) to be quite effective for a "make-shift" clinic. There are no private or semi-private rooms, no sinks or alcohol stations set up between patients but we do our best. The patients are set up on cots in what used to be the courtyard, sexes mixed,ages mixed and everyone appears to get along as best they can, I suppose. The patients have no name bands on but there are tapes above their beds with their names posted on them which is great if they are in bed. However, in 2 short days I have gotten to know most of them.. Oh and most only speak Creole but we have great interpreters that are a saving grace and my french has come back quickly which helps me understand a bit better!
The Dr.'s that are here are also great!! Dr. Jennifer Halverson who has spent a significant amount of time in Haiti prior to the quake truly loves all of these patients and their families and continues to do things for them that are selfless and I admire her dedication. Barbie (yes like the doll but nothing like the doll all at the same time!) is a Physicians Assistant (more like our Nurse Practitioner but more qualified) is also amazing. She is currently working in Alaska and is so skilled at everything she does...She loves her job and it shows..always willing to help out us nurses! And Anjali, a pediatric intensivist who left today :( She was only here a week but it truly was a privilege to work with her..she has 4 children at home and came here to help and I have enjoyed many conversations with her and I will miss her..oh and she is a wonderfully, caring dr as well!!
Our med room/lunch room/meeting room is next to out examination room that consists of 2 plastic (long picnic tables) and a large table of supplies..this room at night becomes sleeping quarters for the nannies of the orphanage (who are now providing meals and help in the clinic) We are out of med cups so the patients have their names on their cup and we reuse them and we are running out of 10cc syringes but we will make do..we are adaptable! The meds have all been donated so I am having to quickly learn the American equivalents to our drugs...Ultram, Rocephin anyone...sure if only i knew what that was! but I'm catching on!

Most of the patients who are still there are there for a number of reasons but mostly because they have infections and are needing antibiotics, have external fixators on that will need to be removed by either MERLIN or Double Harvest (another group doing great work down here) or they don't have safe homes to go home too...The picture at the top is a typical IV set up where we run our antibiotics as primaries and there are no pumps to run them on (oh good old drip rates...60 gtts/min divided by time....!!)
There are also a few people who have had skin grafts and most have at least one dressing that needs looking after. There is a lot of rehab, people learning to ambulate with crutches and we have had (since I have been here) 2 wonderful physical therapists working with the rehab aspect. I have heard that this earthquake will leave a significant portion of the population that will require special devices to live...there will also be a need for long term follow-up for the physical as well as the psychological effects this disaster has taken on them.
We have a wonderful Hatitan Nurse named Wini who I have been told showed up at the clinic after the quake and asked it they need help and subsequently was hired by Heartline. She is amazing and really has helped me so much!!
I have learned a lot I would not have learned at home..rapid malaria tests, rapid HIV testing, ortho stuff (which at home I loath but love here), and I have learned that people are amazing and I still have so much more to learn...
In addition to the inpatients we have been taking walk-ins (if the drs are there) and we have had women show up in labor (then we call Beth, one of the directors who is also a midwife), people with broken bones and a little girl the other day that had been pushed and had a cut on her head(Barbie sutured her up nicely as I held her down and she was not happy with us about it! :() But the walk ins are slowing down. People come to our clinic because its free and they have to pay at Haitian clinic. Heartline is looking at starting up a full time clinic in the future.
There is something to be said for the stillness of the quiet dawning morning..sitting amongst people I have just met but who are so resilient and accepting..holding a small baby who is curled up on my chest, sleeping and learning that there is so much to be thankful for in this life....
I am going to try and sleep a bit more or I will head up and try to make a few calls on SKYPE which btw is the best!!
Michelle, my friend my thoughts are with you and your family today. I am so sorry that this has happened to you...sending my love to you..
Matt, I am also sitting here envisioning you with a wonderful blue neon light encircling you...FLM
Bonne Nuit my friends
Baby Kenny: 4 pounds

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

For the Kids!

So, I have promised to try and blog everyday that i am here but i doubt i will be able too but i will try! i am exhausted tonight but have to start nights tomorrow so I must stay awake for as long as i can i will write!

Once again I am sitting outside in the dark and its amazing here. It "cools" down to about 28C at night and there is a nice breeze which seems to help! We just got back from a 14 hour day and things were moving today..I can't imagine what they were like right after the quake..some sort of organized chaos I imagine!

I think I will divide tonight's blog into 2 different parts (but we will see how tired I get...) The first part of the blog I will talk to the kids of the Wildrose and St. Teresa's...
All the children I have met range in age from 8 days (a little one I met today) to 19 plus..some of them speak English and some of them only speak the language of Haiti and its called Haitian Creole, it sounds a lot like french and uses a lot of french words so I am doing ok as I took French all through school!!
Some of the children go to school and some of them don't and I don't know why some don't. Right now since the earthquake no one goes to school and I don't think anyone knows when school will start again! Some days we have lessons at the clinic and the kids learn to read and speak English (and they teach me Creole)!
The kids here don't play any video games that I have seen and that is probably because they cannot afford the games or even televisions but they do like music and there are a lot of radio stations here!! So for fun they play cards listen to music on their radios that are hand cranked!
Most of the people here eat a type of porridge for breakfast and rice and beans for lunch and supper. I have not told them yet but I brought them little treats which I will bring out soon for them. The water here that comes from the tap isn't good to drink so we drink water from little bags..kinda like bottled water only in bags! I will try and post pictures tomorrow night so you can see what I mean! And for showers they usually only sponge with water and clean that way!
Many of the children at the clinic were hurt in the earthquake. Most broke a bone and had to have surgery to have it fixed. These kids are very brave!! Some of them developed infections so have to stay with us for antibiotics as its hard to find them in the drugstores here!And ever since the earthquake most people refuse to stay inside because they are afraid of another earthquake so they sleep outside on cots with only a tarp to protect them!
Most of the children and their families go to church and every night there is a church service that all attend.
And there are the most beautiful babies everywhere! They smile and laugh and I spend most of my days holding onto at least one of them. We do have a baby that was born prematurely and only weights 4 pounds!! His name is Kenny and he is so tiny. If he was born in Canada he would still be in a hospital but there is no real place for him to go here so he and his mother are staying with us at the clinic!
I have not seen a lot of other places outside the clinic so will have to tell you about those later but here is a few things I saw driving in from the airport...
there really are no traffic lights
most of the roads are not paved
taxis are called "tap-taps" and they are trucks with people riding in the back.
there are "stores" set up along the side of the road where people sell fresh fruit and water, etc
there are roosters that crow all night, every night and the dogs bark back at them and there is no way to stop them!!
a lot of buildings crumbled in the earthquake and its pretty sad

and here's the other thing I have learned so far..the people of Haiti are wonderful and warm and so accepting of everybody and I am so glad to be now I am going to go to bed!

So much for this blog being 2 parts..tomorrow I will try and write about the clinic for my nursing friends and hope to post pictures! Today was great and busy and fun and I have already learned so so much. We had a group named Merlin come in today and they are taking care of most of out patients who have had skin graphs and have fixators and wounds..pretty neat stuff! Check out their website to see what great work they are doing!!
well I am off to bed..oh and so you know the lady in labour last night had a baby boy and everyone is doing well!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bonjour from intro!

Let me share my first 2 days with you or a brief overview anyway! I know the kids of Wildrose and St. Teresa's (Hi Hanna Riddell!) are also following along so I will try and write you something in the next few days but until then...this will have to do...

So after 2 days of flying and 3 timezone changes I made it safe and sound and was able to find all of my bags amidst the confusion of 300 or so others arriving at the same time. Considering that the Port Au Prince airport is now makeshift and there is no luggage belt I think I fared very well to come out with all 3 bags! Right now I sitting in the dark writing this as the generators shut off at 10pm and everything else is run on batteries so we are trying to save power by turning off all non-essential equipment! The country still does not have any centralized power so everything is run off generators(kinda puts into perspective that we maybe shouldn't get so upset when our power goes off for a couple of hours!) The earthquake happened on Jan 13 and the Haitians are still without power! They are also still without hot running water and as a nurse you can see where I would have concerns about not being able to wash my hands...but i guess hand sanitizers could prove to be a saving grace here! Not too mention the fact that I took my first cold shower tonight...and for those of you who know me you know how I loathe cold showers even in hot places..but a shower is better then none...especially after 2 days of dust and heat!!
I have heard that there are many different groups here helping out both with medical and AID in any form that takes but from the limited amount i have seen there doesn't seem to be a lot of movement in the area of build demolition etc... I understand that Haiti is working on a master plan of sorts but nothing seems to be happening as of yet...

The clinic...originally the clinic was a boys orphanage and has now turned into a clinic that treats walk in patients and has about 20 inpatients. They range in age from 4 weeks to about 60 all suffering from different wounds, infections,lack of homes to go too. Heartline also runs a women's center and there was a baby born there today and another lady in labor tonight. Additionally, they run an "ambulance style" truck out too the different areas 3 times a week to treat patients in the field....there is very basic services offered as the clinic is not equipped to do alot, however they still do alot!! Like the little (2 years old) girls that came in with a split head today that our Dr. and Physicians Assistant sewed up (she was not happy with us for having to hold her down but we sort of won out with a make-up balloon after! So the clinic and inpatients seems to be a hodge-podge of everything and I am loving if I could only speak Haitian Creole!!
The patients in the clinic refuse to sleep inside, as do most Haitians since the quake so they sleep outside on army style cots under tarps. I have been told there are "Tent cities" popping up all over Port Au Prince and with the rainy season coming it could pose problems. I also heard tonight that of the 900 orphans awaiting adoption prior to the quake,700 have left for their new homes... There are currently 4 nurses (myself included) that will have to split the work until another arrives later in the week.. 2 drs. one that leaves on Friday and another lady called a physicians assistant (who works like a Dr.) who will stay on..the hope is to re-open the clinic (after this acute stuff is done) full time in the future!!

I won't get into too many details about the patients but to say that they are wonderful people! There are a lot of children and it seems that most of my day is spent doing my work while holding onto a baby! At times I am not even sure who the babies mother is so have to ask someone because I don't want to give the wrong baby back to the wrong mother..although i am sure they would care for it as if it were their own! I will write more later about these great children who for the most part speak English and are helping me with my Haitian Creole (a mix between french and..i'm to sure what!) The schools here have been closed since the quake so the children find ways to occupy themselves..and without TV,computers or video games they are proving to be very creative! Although movies at night are proving to be a hit!! I must say I have never seen so many different hairdo's on babies and girls (sometimes 2-3 in a day!).

So now I must go to bed but I want to say this....I am sitting out on the patio in the dark (bug spray on)...with the roosters crowing (? they do all the dark??!) with the dogs trying to keep up with them, the smell of fires burning, the night clear and the stars are bright and I am feeling like this is where I need to be and I am not too sure why yet but cold showers and all a place like this would do us all some good to help bring some much needed perspective to our everyday lives...and also feel so so lucky to have a safe,wonderful home and country to go home too....the poverty in this city doesn't appear to be a match for the spirit and love that i have seen on the faces or have already (on my second day) felt from the few people I have met here... Until later..I am off to bed to be lulled to sleep by the wonderful sounds of roosters....ahhh I guess only in Haiti!


Friday, March 5, 2010

3 Days...

So in three days I will be in Haiti and I have realized that I have not posted the link to the group I will be working with there so here it is:
feel free to check it out especially the blogs on it!
I spent today getting stuff together and although the stuff from AHS fell through (big surprise there..) I have managed to get alot of other things together..hygiene packs; BP cuffs; storage containers; tape; tourniquets just to name a addition to the great wound care stuff I will be carrying a lot! Not to mention some treats that I hope will bring some smiles to the kids and staff's faces!
I would like to thanks everyone that has given me support in this and I will do my best to make you proud!
I also want to give you the heads up that I have got something on the go with regards to the orphanage that the clinic is currently being housed in but I need to work out the details and I will get back to you! So stay tuned!
I also wanted to say that my dear friend Michelle lost her father yesterday and although I will not be here to help her with whatever I can she will be in my thoughts. I love you Michelle and I will be sending you love from a far but you will be in my thoughts and heart!
Hold close those you love dear and let them know you love them always!
Love you all.
Thanks again for the support!
Love Lise....

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Many Thanks...

I just wanted to take a quick second out of the day to say a special thank you to the ladies and Dr. Akai (sp) from the Mis Wound Care Clinic for my "crash course" in wound care this morning. And for the supplies! They will be put to good use!

I am getting things in order and cleaning up last minute stuff!! I'm also getting very excited and a bit nervous...
Talk to you all soon!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

One week to go

I have decided to create this blog in addition to my facebook one as I know there are people who do not want to subscribe to facebook (Mahory :)) but want to follow me in Haiti! Thank you to everyone for your support! I will post more as I go along but have a lot to do tonight! talk soon!