Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gun Shot Wounds

I am waiting for the Haitian police to make me feel more secure.    It looks as though it may be a long wait. 

About two weeks ago we received a young man with a gun shot wound to his neck.  After seven or eight feverish hours  he was not yet stable, but it looked like he had a chance.   That was when the police swarmed into the hospital, insisting that they had to take our patient away because, they claimed, some rival gang would otherwise storm the hospital and shoot it up.

Well, the police took him and we were gunshot free until two a.m. a few nights ago when a man who decided he needed medical attention demonstrated his displeasure that we were closed by firing several rounds into the air.  

Our would-be patient, of course, was another policeman.  I felt so much safer when I learned that if one of us were felled, it would be by police bullets.  

Why I Don't Get Out Much Anymore

We have rats in the morgue. 

So when a 12 year-old girl died of something easily prevented and easily cured almost anywhere else in the hemisphere, we put the body in my room so her mother could mourn without our adding to this horror.

That is how I wound up going on a run for a transfusion.  And that is how I realized how much I have been avoiding the streets.  And why. 

More than five months after the earthquake, the devastation is endless.  The many, many bodies still trapped under the rubble have liquefied and no longer smell, but that painful stench has been replaced by an even more painful sight -- the million mile stare of people who have given up any hope that it will ever get better.

I shuddered and began weeping, and had to explain to the guy who was driving me that I was alright.  Sort of.