Thursday, February 25, 2010

Clinic day 2

Today the clinic was only open for the morning, so of course we had to figure out something to occupy the afternoon with: TO THE BEACH!!!

List of my diagnoses today:
Ringworm (3 cases)
Chronic Backpain
Chronic knee and buttock pain
Itchy eyes (2)
Myopia (near-sighted)
Chronic diarrhea
Knee pain

Definitely a list of clinic complaints above. We did have a 20 year old male virgin with 2 weeks of cough, night sweats and weight loss. Probable tuberculosis, I think. We referred him to another facility for x-ray, TB treatment and HIV test--a blood test of that virginity, ahem ahem. There's a fair amount of TB in Haiti, and often HIV presents as TB. Jason was in a closet (literally) with this guy for 10 minutes--he had a wound in a private part that and didn't want to drop trow in front of the other patients. Sure, you can have some privacy--at the cost of Jason's lungs, not mine. I don't think the exposure was too significant. I thought Jason should get a PPD when back, not necessarily 6 months of isoniazid and no beer. (Can't drink alcohol with those pills). Jason initially wanted some meds for his exposure. After I informed him of his alcohol status for the next 6 months, he agreed with my test before treat plan.

I'm kinda in charge of the clinic. The last resident passed on the key and money to pay the translators. We try to make it better in little ways. Jason reorganized the meds, which were in a little confusing disarray, putting labels on them. We made notes of meds we need; I think a scale would be helpful, especially for the little ones like that 7 month old with chronic diarrhea. Clinic tomorrow and Saturday should be much busier and all day.

TO THE BEACH. The problem was we had no idea where we were living, and how to get back from the beach. There isn't really an address, or cross streets. We are on HWY 2 in Leogane across the street from the big green and yellow sign. That's about it. This is nuts, but Jason's IPHONE saved us. He's got a googlemaps app on it where you turn it on, and with a little pin, it shows where you are. EVEN IN HAITI! I think technology often unnecessarily complicates and disconnects our lives, but damn. That was pretty cool. And it got us to the beach and easily back.

Like everything else, the beach was a mess. Tons of trash washed up on the beachside, with beachside resorts in shambles, but still clear blue warm Carribean waters. I thought about my incoming babygirl and picked up a pretty shell for her. A brilliant orange. Then we got taken advantage of by this dude who wanted 60 Haitian Gourdes for 4 beers, about $1.50 (as I later found out). When I stupidly pulled out a $20 and was trying to figure out how much a gourde was worth, his buddy saw an opportunity and took it, swindling us for our cash. I knew we got worked and wasn't happy. Then he trailed us the rest of the way, looking for more cash. Guess I should be happy they didn't rob us. In protest, I didn't drink the beer. John and Jason doubled up, and didn't seem to mind. Then on the way back, we hitched a ride in the back of a truck like bus with 32 Haitians. That was safe. The number of times I should be dead because I've been in an automobile in Latin America...Lord. It makes riding my motorcycle look like riding in a sedan with a childseat and helmet. When in doubt, just honk your horn, floor it and close your eyes and everything will be fine. I can't believe I haven't seen those roads lined with cars on fire and bodies running around in flames, but whatever. Guess it works for them.

That's one of the things I like about the third world. It's the jungle, man. The psuedo-civilized wild. I'm surprised there isn't more crime here in Haiti. I don't have numbers, but it feels safe--although it's got this brink-of-chaos feeling to it. What's to stop it? I'd heard there's all this international security here--and maybe there is near embassies or the big hospitals, but I haven't seen it. At the same time that you leave the safety of first world civilization behind, you can better connect into humanity and earth. I am in much better touch with my mortality and limitations, here. Any number of things could kill me here--from basic appendicitis to a car crash to malaria. Or even the next earthquake. And I'm aware of this. At home, I think I exist in denial of this basic reality, comforted by the illusion that everything is fixable at the local hospital. Which is nuts because I see people die all the time of things that we can't fix.

This morning, I woke up to the rooster's crow just before dawn. And I just sat there. I didn't have much to do. Didn't have a manufactured to-do list of important crap that absolutely must get done. It was nice, to just be, and kinda feel that rhythm of waking up when the earth gets up, and just breathe a little bit.


Ben said...

Thanks for writing this, Lar! Good stuff. Glad you are alive and well. Could you get a shell for Joe, too? Love you! ~ Allie

Lorenz said...

Done sister. Shell for Joe secured. And maybe his little sister?