Friday, April 30, 2010

The Patients

Note: I received permission from each patient pictured before I took their photo.
The hospital relied heavily upon the family of each patient to provide their food and clothing.  This is a picture of laundry day.  The patient's family washed their clothing outside in a tub with a bar of soap.  Their were close lines strung up between the tents, and those were also used to dry clothes.
 These are the tents that the earthquake victims stayed in.  There were four of them full of patients, and it got terribly hot inside them.
 Many of the patients were amputees.  This is the prosthetic leg that the therapists used for the patients that had had a leg amputated.  I had never seen anything like it.  It inflated with air, like an inflatable mattress.  I thought this was a very interesting design.  By inflated with air, it provided a custom fit for each patient.

This lady had both legs amputated, and the therapists installed a "grab bar" over her bed that she could use getting in and out of bed.

The patient pictured above had a leg amputated, and she had a wound on her arm that needed treatment.
This patient was working at the parallel bars to regain balance and strength in her leg.
No crutches!  The patient above was walking slowly, but successfully without crutches.

This gentleman had an external fixator, and he was able to walk with aide of a walker.
The patients needed a smiling face and they wanted to feel beautiful.  This young volunteer painted this patient's nails.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The work at hand

While we were planning our trip to Haiti, I wasn't sure what kind of work I'd be doing.  The organization that we were going to volunteer at didn't seem to have a need for pharmacists, but I told the people in charge of volunteers that I'd do any kind of work they had for me.  I didn't what I'd be doing, and even wondered if the trip would be worth the time.  Well, on Saturday morning while we were waiting outside of our hotel in Fort Lauderdale for the shuttle to take us to the airport, I checked my email in my iPhone.  I received an email from the pharmacist that had just been there.  She gave me a list of projects that she wasn't able to finish.  It was great to feel like I had a job to do. The main job I had was that of relocating the pharmacy.

It was in a tent, which was unsecured.  The narcotics, maxi pads, and protein shakes where all locked up.  Theft was a problem with the maxi pads and protein shakes, not so much with the narcotics.  I think that says something about the poverty in the local community.  People were concerned with getting their basic needs - like personal hygiene and nutrition- met.  They were not concerned with getting high.  This is what the pharmacy looked like when I got there.  It was a barely organized mess.  I had a very hard time finding stuff.

I didn't have a tremendous amount of patient contact.  Most of the time I was getting medication for a nurse or doctor.  I did have a few patients come for medication.  One patient was a young man, probably about 20 years old.  One of his legs had been amputated because of an injury during the earthquake.  He was getting around with crutches.  He told me that both of his parents were dead.  My heart went out to him.  I wondered who was caring for him and what his future would hold.

It was hot in the tent, and that was another reason the pharmacy needed to be moved.  It is not good to store drugs above room temperature, and it was certainly above room temp!  Things were pretty basic.  No computer and no real filling system.  I didn't even use bottles to dispense the meds.  The nurses wanted their meds in little plastic bags because they took up less space.  So that's what I used.

It had been about 2 years since I had worked with traditional medication.  I had to look several things up, but most of it came right back.  One issue I had was with foreign meds and foreign names of medications.  The hospital used some medications that aren't used here in the states, and I had to quickly educate myself about them.
There was a degree of improvisation needed.  We had a lot of sharps containers, but I could not find the lids for them anywhere.  This what a nurse and I rigged up.  At least it provided a separate waste container for their used syringes.

 This is Lou Lou.  He was a Haitian volunteer who helped out in the pharmacy.  He spoke a little English, and he tried to teach me some Creole, but it didn't take.  He was very helpful on the day we moved the pharmacy.

This is where the pharmacy was moved.  These men were building shelves.  It was a secure room with an iron door that could be locked.
This is what it looked like after everything was moved.  I had help from several people getting everything moved and organized. 

Much better.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Trip to Haiti

We had a one night lay over in Fort Lauderdale on the way to Haiti.  We spent the evening at the beach.  The weather was nice, but we all agreed that it was windy and humid.  On the way back home after spending a week in Haiti, it didn't seem humid at all in Fort Lauderdale! 

We ate dinner at a restaurant called Margarita Cantina, and we thought the food was really good. 

The next morning we got up early to go to the airport.  Our flight to Haiti was on a commuter airline.  There was no security to go through, no need to remove your shoes, and no need to place your 3 oz liquids in a quart size ziplock bag.  It was rather nice.  Here's a picture of the plane.  It was larger than I had expected it to be.  I had been rather nervous about flying on a small plane, but it was fine.  We had to stop in the Bahamas to refuel, and the landing there was rough.  Other than that, it was really not that much different that flying on a larger plane.

This is the airport in Cap-Haitian, Haiti.  This picture was taken just as we got off the plane.  We were thankful to have arrived safely.

Our bags were loading on to the top of a vehicle.  I rode to the hospital in Milot in an ambulance, along with 5 other people.  The ride was extremely bumpy.  Imagine the worst dirt road you have ever driven on and magnify the roughness of the road by tenfold.  It was terrible.
After we go into the ambulance we watched the crowd outside through the small window in the back door.  The woman that is seated in the photo was selling bags of popcorn.  She had one bag on top of her head.
The ambulance

Here's where we slept.  It was a covered porch, and we're glad it didn't rain.  It was noisy.  There were dogs and wild roosters that made noise though the night.  I slept with my ipod playing, and that helped drown out some of the noise.  There were lots of bugs and lizards.  I applied 100% DEET two or three times every day, and I still had twenty some odd bug bites by the end of the week.  You can see the mosquito nets that we slept under in the photo.

Another photo of the same place.  This one was taken the morning we left.

There was a banana tree near the porch.  It was in plain view from where we slept.  I had seen lots of banana trees before, but this was the first time I saw one with fruit.  I never knew that the banana grew up like that.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day, I'm sharing some of my recycling ideas.  We do live in a neighborhood that has recycling pick up, so that makes it easy.  There are other ways we recycle by reusing things instead of throwing them away.  Here are some things we do to lessen the mark we leave on the environment:
  1. Plastic grocery bags.  I do have some reusable bags that use for grocery shopping when I remember too.  When I forget, most of the time I'll use a paper bag that I can just toss in the recycling bin when I'm done with it.  Not all recycling companies will accept plastic bags in the curb-side pick up.  When we do get them, we reuse some of them.  They have a second life as doogie waste bags.  I use them for packing away holiday decorations too.  There is a grocery store near us that has a recycling bin for them.  I take them there if we have a lot of them that we are not going to use.
  2. Old towels.  After so many washes your bath towels can start to feel rough and they are not so nice to use anymore.  When ours get to that point, they become the property of ours dogs.  We use the old towels to dry them off when they get wet outside and when we bathe them.
  3. Paper plates.  We have stopped using paper plates very much.  We have nice dishes, and we use them at every meal.  Yes, we do have to use water to wash them, but it keeps us from putting paper plates in the land fill.  I have bought paper plates four times in two years.  The first time was when we first moved into our house and we didn't have our dishes moved up here yet.  The second time was for one of our Mardi Gras parties, and we decided not to use them.  Those are still in my pantry.  The third time was for our Superbowl party.  I got black and gold plates, and I still have more - for the next the Saints go to the Superbowl :-).  I don't know what the fourth time was for.
  4. Bottled water.  We used to buy bottled water rather regularly.  This is another thing we have stopped because of the expense of it and because of the trash that the empty plastic bottle creates.  When we do use it, I try to make sure the empty bottle gets recycled.
  5. Carpooling.  James uses a carpool to get to and from work.
  6. Junk mail.  You can remove yourself from junk mail lists.  We have done that, and it has greatly reduced the amount of junk mail that we receive.  Here is one website that offers the service: National do not Mail List
  7. Gift wrap.  I think gift bags are a little less wasteful than using wrapping paper because it is more likely that the recipient will reuse a gift bag than wrapping paper.  I do still use wrapping paper because we have several rolls of it that we bought a while back.  Be creative.  If you are giving a gift to someone that sews, wrap the gift in some pretty fabric.  When I was a kid, I always thought it was fun to get a gift that was wrapped in the funny paper.
What recycling/reusing ideas do you have?

 Be kind to the planet.  It's the only one we have!

Note:  I wrote this post before I left for Haiti, and scheduled it's publication date.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Adventures in Haiti

We've been busy, but we've found a little time to take in more of the local culture.  Yesterday, I tried some food from one of the street vendors.  I had checked with some of the long term volunteers here to see if it was safe before I ate it.  It was very good, kinda like a meat pie - if you know what that is.  It was basically a fried pocket of something savory.  I don't know what it was, but it was good.

I did a little shopping today with the artisans on the street too.  I bought a wooden mortal and pestal that is made out of mahogony.  It is hand carved, and it is very colorful.

There is an old palace here in Milot, and I took a tour of that with three other people today.  It was very interesting.

Thanks again for your prayers.  I'll post photos when I'm home.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hello from Haiti

We arrived in Haiti on Saturday, and Sunday was our first day of work. The patients that are here because of injuries that they sustained during the earthquake are staying in large tents (think MASH). We have been working in the tents with them. There is an indoor hospital that the more critial patients are staying in. There is a satelite pharmacy set up in one of the tents, and that is where I will be spending most of my time.

We learned that being discharged for these patients is stressful. Many of them have been here for several weeks if not months and they have no home to return to in Port-a-Prince. It is so sad to think that there is no home to look forward to returning to after they are well.

The RN in my group has been working with a patient that was trapped under rubble for 15 days. I am amazed at how well she is doing considering those circumstances. I think these Haitians must be made of tougher stuff than we Americans! I can't go for more than half an hour without water!

The physical therapist and occupational therapist from my group have been working with patients that had to have an amputation. Some of them are walking on one leg with a walker and some of them are learning how to walk with a prosthesis or crutches.

The organization that we are working with is funded by Catholic Charities.  Yesterday the Cardinal from Boston visited.  It was quite an event.  He arrived via helicopter.  They had Mass outdoors near the tents the earthquake victims are staying in.  The Mass was in Creole.  I watched part of it.  The patients sang for quite some time, which was lovely.

Today after work was done, I asked one of the interpreters to give us a tour of a cemetery near the hospital.  It was interesting.  Most of the graves were above ground, like what you see in New Orleans.  There was a goat in the cemetery to keep the grass under control.

Thanks for your prayers!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Haiti Bound

We leave today!  This afternoon we will fly to Fort Lauderdale and then tomorrow morning will we go on to Haiti.  I've been busy the past few days packing and getting ready to leave.  I'm excited and a little nervous at the same time.  I'm really thankful for this opportunity and for the pray support of so many people here.  I've been trying to prepare my heart for what we will see.  The only experience I've had working in a crisis situation in Baton Rouge in the days following Hurricane Katrina.  Not to minimize the destruction that Katrina brought, but I think what we will see in Haiti will make Katrina seem like a rain shower.

I'll post what I can while I'm gone.  Thanks so much for your prayers and support!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lily's Birthday

Last Tuesday, April 6th, was Lily's 5th birthday.  We let her have a cupcake.

She is a great pet.  She's smart, full of energy, playful, and snuggley. We were so excited the day we found out she was ours! We had been in contact with a breeder and had been on her waiting list.  I drove to Evening Shade, AR to pick her up.  She rode home in a box in the front seat while Daisy rode in the back seat.  I had James' little digital camera with me and took pics on the way home for him since he was unable to be with us that day.

Daisy is patiently waiting for her cupcake.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spicy Broiled Catfish

4 catfish filets
1/8 cup lemon juice
Fresh ground pepper
Seasoned salt
Tiger sauce

Spray broiling pan with non-stick spray. Place oven rack about 6 inches from broiler. Turn broiler on high. Place filets bottom side up on broiler pan. Pour lemon juice on filets. Sprinkle filets generously with pepper and seasoned salt. Place in oven for 4 minutes. Remove from oven and turn filets over. Sprinkle the top of filets with pepper and seasoned salt. Return to oven for another 4 minutes. Then remove fron oven and pour about half the bottle of Tiger sauce on the fish. Return to oven for another 4 minutes. Fish is done when it is flaky.

Reflections on our Adoption Journey

This is part of a series of posts about our how we got started on the road to adoption and some things that we've done along the way that I didn't have time to write about at the time because I was swimming in a sea of paperwork. 

Where it all began . . .

I don't really recall a time when I thought about having children and not thinking that adoption would be part of the story.  It was something that James and I talked about early in our relationship.  My freshman year at college, I had a part time job in the International Student's office.  The Dean for International Students worked in that office, and he and his wife had adopted a little girl from China.  She was cute as a button!  When we got married, she was our little flower girl.  That family was the first family that I knew that had an adopted child.  I think getting to know them is what made adoption feel like a more concrete possibility.  After we got married, we moved to Little Rock and we met three interracial families there who had adopted children. We even had one of the girls in our Sunday class that we taught.  It was fun to watch the families meld together, and it was so helpful getting to hear their stories.  I'm so thankful for the time that those moms took to answer my questions.  It certainly helped us make our decision to adopt.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mutts comics

I've become a fan of Mutt's comics.  The local newspaper here runs the strip. Here is one of my favorites:

I think the writer knows Daisy.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What was she thinking?

One question I've gotten a lot regarding adoption is "Why does it take so long?"  Read this article for one reason it takes so long.  Agencies try to weed out whackos like that woman.  So the mom basically gets overwhelmed with the child and sends him on a plane back to Russia with no guardian.  He was carrying letter stating that she no longer wished to parent him.  The article doesn't state exactly how hold the child was when he was adopted in September, but he is currently 7.  So he was either 6 or 7 years old at the time he was adopted.  Children adopted at that age need more attention and maybe even therapy than say, an infant would need.  Was she not educated about that by her agency before she was approved to adopt a 6/7 year old child?  Did she seek professional post-placement assistance?  Did she ever take her son to see a therapist, psychologist, or counselor before deciding to send him back to Russia?  However desperate she felt, is doesn't excuse the fact that she abandoned her child.  It looks like she may have wrecked other families plans too.  Russia has decided to halt all pending US adoptions, and I can't blame them for doing so when an American has done such careless foolish things.  I'm interested to see what will become of this situation.

Friday, April 2, 2010


On our way to Little Rock we took a little detour into Memphis so we could eat lunch at Huey's. It's a local bar/burger joint & it's worth checking out if you're in Memphis.

They have huge onion rings. We didn't finish our order.

You can write on the wall.

Notice where it says "Yasmin.". Apparently that is someone's name, but it is also the name of birth control pills. I think I'd change my name if that was me. I mean, a pharmacist with the same name as a drug she dispenses? Humm.

You can also try your luck at shooting your toothpick at the ceiling and making it stick.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

What we've been up to

This has been a busy week between working and getting read for Easter weekend.  We had squeezed some fun things in though.  On Saturday, James and I went antiquing.  I'm surprised that he agreed to go, but he found something he wanted.

It's an official game ball from the 1979 All-Star game.  It was held in Seattle that year.  I had hoped to find some furniture for the basement, but I didn't.  I did find an ottoman at Target later that day, so that made up for it.

I've been making bookmarks from some of my original photos.  Here's a couple of them.  Pic is not great.  I didn't have time to keep taking pics of them today.  The both have a bible verse on them.  The one with the butterfly on it has Psalm 104:24 
How many are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures
. (NIV)

The one with the sleeping bear has Matthew 11:28.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (ESV)

I'm going to have some up on Etsy for sale in a week or two.

Have a wonderful Easter as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord!