Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Haitian Diet Plan

Some time around supper time none of the nurses came to me and pointed out that our patients hadn't been fed.  When you're sick or injured, being hungry is more than a nuisance -- it is life threatening.  Your body needs nutrition -- and lots of it -- to help heal wounds, knit bones, and fight off the raging infections that are rampant around here.  

The family members of our patients have been wonderful about making and organizing meals and delivering them to our 200+ patients.  The beauty of it is that everybody eats.  The food is usually prepared cooperatively and is shared out, regardless of whose families could not contribute -- or whose families are dead.  The food is shared communally here, just as I saw the Hawaiians do it when I lived there.

Sometimes roads are blocked or other misfortune befalls this enterprise, but our patients usually get three good meals a day, even  if a meal is missed once or twice a week.  Dinner has never been missed.   Until tonight.  Letting sick and injured patients miss dinner is just too risky, because it it too long to breakfast.  (And if the food doesn't come in the morning .... I shut that thought out of my head... It is far too alarming and there is nothing I can do about it.

So after a 12 hour shift in the hospital, I became the cook.  I found enough Progresso soup, canned vegetables, and dehydrated rice to at least create a soup.  Not very flavorful, but it did the trick.  It was so sad to see how grateful our patients were for just a cup of vegetable and rice soup.

That all of this happened within shouting distance of the U.N. restaurant, which would not even think of sharing its food with Haitians, did not help.

We Need Blank Hospital Chart Materials

We need: 

* Critical Care Tri-fold nurses' flow sheets 

* Medication Administration Record sheets 

* Physician Orders sheets 

* Progress Notes sheets 

* Labelled Dividers 

* An electric two-hole punch Any volunteers to help collect these?

If you can get them, Kleiman will get them to us.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Nursing Wounds

A new batch of nurses came in tonight -- but not until the old batch had left in the morning.

Another day where I cared for five critically ill patients myself in our makeshift ICU -- and worked in surgery in my spare time.

Nick, who has been here a full month, leaves tomorrow.  I'm the only veterano left.

In the Company of Wolves

A U.S. Army company is billeted only half a mile away and invited some of us over for a barbecue.  Real barbecued chicken.  Cold beer.  The works.  Several of the nurses went, of course, when we got off duty.

We didn't last long.  Two of America's finest decided it was time to display their knife throwing skills after proudly telling us that these knives were for "killing Haitians" -- as though there were not enough dead ones to last 'til eternity.

One of these fine young men had speakers hooked up to his laptop, and invited any of his comrades to put some music on.  The offer lasted until a Cuban-American G.I. put on a salsa CD, at which point our Great White Father in Training shouted at him to 'get that greaser crap out of my computer'!

It did not make me proud of my country.  It made me sad that the trust and love and honor the Haitian people bestow on us so freely gets sullied and squandered.

We went home without our barbecued chicken.  And were happy to be gone.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Rest of the Day

Anel and the Super Bowl and the dog were all great.

Not so great was the very sudden, very hard downpour or rain which mercifully lasted only about twenty minutes.  Grateful it was brief.

Another twelve hour day.  I'm feeling tired and a little weak.  But I am dry.  And very near here there are hundreds of thousands of people living in now muddy fields.  I don't get to be tired.  We are the lucky ones.

Super Bowl

It worked!  Hank Asher's IT wiz, Grace Kamakani, came through like a champ and got us a feed to the Super Bowl.  A mad dash for cables, plasma (as screen, not a blood product for once), and speakers all came together, and we had superb video and audio.

In the run-up to the game, one of the docs asked where the beer was going to come from.  He wound up having to make the run to the U.N. store to get it -- for all of us.  As Hank Asher's H.R. manual teaches, "We are a tribe.  Check your ego at the door."

Everyone got a big kick out of the game.  Got to see some of it myself before an emergency orthopedic case came in.  A patient with an amputation which had become badly infected, and needed a revision.  I was trapped (happily) in the O.R. when we heard tumultuous yelling.  Had to text Kleiman in Boston to learn that the Saints' Tracy Porter had intercepted a Manning pass and turned it into a touchdown.

This made the day for all of us.  Many, many thanks to the people who scrambled to put it together for us.

Dog Days

How did that old song go,

"If you can't hug the dog you love
 Hug the dog you're with"

This is Tejou, a Search and Rescue dog, who certainly rescued me today.  I am missing my critters, and Tejou was a dynamite substitute.

Anel, one of our rockstar orthopods celebrated his birthday down here operating.  The best we could muster was a brownie lin lieu of a cake, and a cigarette in lieu of a candle.    He didn't seem to mind . . . 

Wake Up!!

Stronger than a speeding crash cart!

Able to leap double shifts in a single bound!

This is Nick, an amazing R.N. from Nebraska who, like me, got here as quick as he could, and is staying as long as he can.  Nick works incredibly hard.  

He used to get tired.

Not anymore.

Some MVPs

We’ve been doing spine cases all day.  These guys have taken three spines where the patients were facing total paralysis.  These patients will walk again because of the fabulous neurosurgeons.  What great guys to work with!

They are doing terribly complex neurosurgery in a tent – with flies and people everywhere.  It’s far from even a M.A.S.H. hospital, but considering the conditions in the country, it’s working.  Sadly, these are untreated injuries from the earthquake now nearly four weeks ago.  I cannot imagine four weeks with a broken back.  But we have do do it.  There is no place to ship these patients.  The U.S.S. Comfort is full, as are the south Florida hospitals.

Several of the docs were wistfully remarking about missing the Super Bowl.  I told Kleiman, who wrote to Asher.  At one in the morning, Asher was rousting his Senior VP for I.T., the awesome Grace Kamakani, who figured this out and it looks like these wizards will make it happen.  It will be a wonderful break and morale boost for some amazing men and women -- all put together by our cool allies Stateside.

MVPs all, and I am lucky to work with them.

Nearly 3:30 in the morning here.  I have mounted a major attack on organizing our O.R. supplies and equipment, and Nick, the only other nurse who has been here as long as I have hiked a mile and a half, the long way around to the U.N. restaurant only a stone's throw away -- and has returned with much prized french fries and chicken kabob.    

I get to sign off with some comic relief.  Some of you contacted me asking why there were so many Scientology volunteers all over our hospital.  Their bright yellow t-shirts can be seen everywhere.

Answer:  They are working their butts off and are actually very helpful.
Even funnier answer:  Someone back in Planet Hollywood did not do their homework.   The poor Haitians hate the color yellow!  It symbolizes wealth and the caste system..

Going to sleep and dream of my chicken kabob.