Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Time to give back!

I have not written much since returning home..maybe it's that I feel I should not write to share my feelings/thoughts/insights since returning because I fear that they might not be genuine considering the environment...I just don't know...

What I do know tho is this the people of Haiti still need our help and recognition..we need to understand that although the tragedy there is not the latest and greatest in the way of news, we must work to not forget what has happened and what still needs to happen there... we must not abdicate our roles as fellow humans in the suffering of our fellow citizens of this planet. And not only do the people of Haiti deserve our attention, so do the people all over the world who suffer day in and day out, those who struggle against circumstance and luck to make it through each day.
I know it's easy to turn off the televisions and let our minds block out the struggles of others but as humans I feel its our responsibility to acknowledge the suffering of the many, even if we feel we are not in the position to invoke changes...Many have said to me since returning "oh I could never have done that" to which I have oft replied "you would be surprised what you could do" and I mean it! I have never been one to tell people "what" they should be doing with their lives or if/how they should give back..guilt doesn't work..for me its a matter of leading by example, showing others that to give back and care, is not a hard fact its very easy, it's just whether or not people are willing to take the chance!

I came across 2 quotes today that really spoke to me and that I want to share with you. One is by a former president of Doctors Without Borders, who spent time in Ethiopia and Rawanda (I recommend his book "An Imperfect Offering" and the movie accompaniment "triage")
“What I’ve experienced is that I can’t know the future. I can’t know if anything that I do will change what happens tomorrow. I can’t know with certainty, but what I do know is if I do nothing, nothing will change.” James Orbinski. If we as a society continue to do nothing out of the fears that we have, how will anything change for our fellow human beings? And here I can insert all types of statistics like over 2 billion people who live on less then $2 a day; the fact that malaria infects 500 million people a year and kills 1 million a year (April 25th is world Malaria day) and I could go on all day but I won't I just want us to all stop and think how we can do something, even something small to effect change for people in this world!

The second quote was at the bottom of a friends email and I am not sure who wrote it but it also had an impact on me today.
"Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle" For some of those we meet it's a patient fighting Cancer or depression and for others its a fight we will never have to see or experience but that is real and requires strength and courage, that we as caring, loving human beings can provide for each other, even from a distance!
I guess in the end what I am asking of each and everyone of you is to not take the easy road.. to not say "I could never do that..." but to find a way, even a small way to make a difference in the lives of those who share this beautiful planet of ours either near or far!
(IF you can't think of a me! I have lots of ideas!)

Many of you have not only supported me in my trip but have also helped out in other ways and for that I thank you..I just ask that we try to never lose sight of those in this world who will never escape from the poverty,suffering and sadness that surrounds them..lets not let them suffer alone but in some small way help lighten the load..

Thursday, April 15, 2010


My friend Barbie is not only a wonderful person, Physicians Assistant (but who are we kidding she's smarter then most Dr's I know) she is also a fantastic writer that brings tears to my eyes with every post she posts...this one is no exception. I encourage you to follow her blog its a beautiful thing...



I have been home for just over a week now and although the luxury and routine of it all is comforting it also bring to the surface many different feelings...

Guilt for all that I have when others have so little, guilt because I was just lucky in the birth placement lottery, guilt when I open the fridge and I get to CHOOSE what I want to eat for supper, guilt for the abundance in this part of the world.

Hopelessness for lack of the ability to really change anything... hopelessness as I think about little Rose and her family living under a tarp with the rains beating down on them...hopelessness for the future of the people of Haiti (and all Third and fourth world nations)...

Apathy for life little really matters when their everyday is a struggle to survive....

Yet I find hope, deep down under all those layers. Hope in the form of a life to be lived (thanks you Matt for showing me that). Hope to live a life that works for change however small that change is. Hope by finding pleasure and meaning in all things happy and sad. Hope in having the opportunity to work towards a better be part of making this world a better place however big the task....


Monday, April 12, 2010

Physical Thearpy Heartline style!!

Although I am home I am still very connected to the people of the Heartline Clinic. Please check out this new form of Physical Therapy at the clinic. It put a smile on my face this morning after my first night shift back!! I miss everyone there!


Thursday, April 8, 2010


Home..somewhat of a fleeting concept to me in the past but after being home for just a little over 24 hours, I must say home has taken on a new meaning for me.. As I sit here and look out the window at the rain and snow I am so grateful for not only my house but more importantly my home. My home is not only the physical entity that exists but its everything in my life that makes where I live a friends,my pictures of past moments,my trials and tribulations, my family, my hopes and dreams..

Many people in Haiti lost their houses on Jan 12 2010 but for the people of our clinic I like to think that they found a new home at the Heartline clinic. Most have very little with regards to personal items, I'm not sure many had much even before the quake. The one thing the people at the clinic have is a sense of community, they had new found friends brought together by a common experience, they have milestones they met with each others encouragement, they have love for each other that is genuine and true. The clinic at Heartline, backed by some of the most loving and caring people I have met in my life is a home. It was my home for a month and I am sad to be away from it yet unlike a house that can fall, a home, my home at Heartline will live on for me and hopefully for our patients.

So yes is the answer to the question I have been asked the most since coming home..yes I'm happy to be HOME but I do miss my HOME at Heartline and I am so grateful to have been included into the family there...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sunday, April 4, 2010


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage"
Anais Nin

Today, in our little clinic I sat in amongst people whom have suffered greatly yet have shown great courage. Most of these people have lost everything in the blink of an eye, 43 seconds actually. A mother losses 3 children, a child loses his parents, most lose their homes and all lose their sense of security and certainty of the future. Yet all carry on, displaying courage under fire with grace and dignity unparalleled by many in my life (myself included) save expect for a few..and it is the people in my clinic and the small few that have shown me the courage it takes to expand this life into what it really should be..

I first met my friend Matt over 4 years ago when he was admitted to my hospital with the diagnosis of Osteosarcoma. Matt was not unlike most 18 year olds and the last place he wanted to be was in the hospital. But Matt was unlike most 18 year olds in many different ways especially in the way he carried himself. Matt was a sweet kid, he stayed up till all hours of the night with his brother and friends playing cards in the hospital, he went out to a bar after he had just finished his chemo and got into a scuffle because someone was picking on his friend, he smiled most of the time and in the years to come he always remembered that nurses like donuts and whenever he could he always brought us some!

He also looked at life as a gift and he truly lived it to the fullest...he made the Canadian sledge Hockey team, he became an mentor for fellow amputees and he always smiled..

He endured more surgeries then most of us will endure combined in a lifetime some even while training with Team Canada in preparation for the Olympics, 31 weeks of chemo therapy, he had his dream of making the "bigs" crushed, he made decisions about his treatment and life that none of us would ever want or have the courage to make and still he smiled...

Instead of shrinking from life Matt rose to meet it and hit it head on..he showed grace and dignity in everything he did..he was kind and loving and selfless...

Matt lost his battle with Cancer this morning surrounded by his family.

Matt's life was HUGE because of the courage he displayed in all areas of it. He helped expand my life in more ways then he will ever know.

Prior to me coming to Haiti, Matt contacted me about a donation he wanted to make (thinking of others in some of his darkest hours). We had numerous conversations and in his last email to me he told me he admired me and the work I was doing and he hoped that the healing would come, "I really feel that in living I can offer the world more then I can in dying your trip to Haiti has inspired me.."

No Matt, it is you and your courage that have inspired me, the people of Haiti and their courage to move forward with their lives have inspired me. I only hope that I can muster up half the courage you/they have portrayed in this life, but I will try as I promised you I would...

Rest in Peace my friend


I will be hard pressed to find a better person to spend my mornings with....

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Children...

I sit here tonight and listen to the sounds of a quiet Haiti night. For once all is quite, no roosters or dogs barking but as I sit here I hear the sound of a child crying and I think to myself "I wonder what this country holds for it's children?"

I have seen many children since coming to Haiti..they seem to make up the whole population of my surroundings at times. And I have come to love some in a way never felt before.

But what does this country hold for its young? On a trip out of the city, in the back of a pick-up truck (not facing forward so as to not be aware of our possible impending demise) my new found friend Brian and I discussed the topic of adoptions and how the removal of the children of Haiti will never see this country advance and move out of its current state. But my question to him at the time and the one that lingers as my time here shows me more of the despair and poverty of this island was/is "if you had a chance to escape this, wouldn't you?" My answer was/is a resounding yes...but then does that leave as one man put it "a nation of idiots?" unable to figure out a way out of the mess that was present long before the ground shook on Jan 12 2010?

The question of whether or not to remove a child from its place of birth to provide for it a so called better life is one that I seriously pondered after meeting Rose.
Rose is the sweet little 3 month old in the above picture. She was brought into our clinic by her grandmother because she had been accidentally stepped on my one of the 8 other people sharing her tent. Roses mother died the day the "earth shook" leaving her and a sibling to be cared for by her grandmother Rosemarie. This little girl bore her way into my heart in that way that I never knew I could experience and I found myself wanting to do the exact thing Brian and I had discussed could possibly be the reason for this countries downfall..I wanted to take her and run. Run back to Canada where she would never have to be worried about people stepping on her in the overcrowded tent,, where she would not get pneumonia because grandma didn't have the money to buy formula so fed her porridge instead, where she could grow up with an education, where she could feel safe to experience falling in love (somewhere around 80% of all first sexual encounters in Haiti for women are not consentual) where she could be assured at least a life with more security and opportunities then the one offered her here.

Rose's grandma loves her, of that I am sure. She has continued to come to the parenting classes each week even tho she barely has the money to take the tap tap from her house. She holds her with love and cares for her tenderly. Yet grandma looks tired and burdened and it makes my heart ache. For those of you who don't know me very well I lost my mother at 7 weeks of age and I was raised by my grandparents for a few years.. I know what it feels to have the love of a grandparent as if you were their own and for that lifetime of unconditional love I will be eternally grateful! And although the paralleling of our lives was not my motivating factor, its interesting to me the way life presents itself to us (but that's the topic of a whole other blog entry!). I am just grateful that I was able to share with Grandma my story in hopes that she will see although this may be proving to be difficult now it has only the potential to benefit Rose in the end.

And I know that that depth of love will only benefit Rose but what about life in Haiti what benefits will it provide Rose? Will she have a chance at an education? Will she be safe from harm? Will she grow up strong, healthy and independent? Or will Haiti get the best of her before she even gets out of the gates?

A conversation with Beth lead me to understand the adoption system in Haiti (if you can call it that) and that was broken before the earthquake and has been nonexistent I have decided to help Rose and grandma in the only way I can currently and that is thru an informal sponsorship. For the small cost of 10 lattes I will be able to provide Rose and her grandma with a "very good" income. One that I hope will see Rose reap the benefits for the rest of her life..10 lattes..

I am not sure what Haiti has in store for its children but I can speak from experience that for Rose, a grandmothers love coupled with the love of a stranger she might have a fighting least one can hope. My answer to the question I think will always be yes after meeting Rose but who knows maybe with my support Rose will become the next president of Haiti and save this country from being a "nation of idiots" ..only time will tell...

Looking for a Neurosurgeon!

Please read the following story. We are looking for help for this sweet girl! The story says it all!
Thank You All.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


"Live your life from your heart. Share from your heart. And your story will touch and heal peoples souls"

Melody Beattie