Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lynn OT, Catherine PT, and Sandy PT

Our impression of Haiti began in the air and is evolving daily. We are in awe of the country's beauty and the devastation it has suffered. We were oriented by Mary Beth and Jeff after arriving on Saturday, May 22nd. The patients we have seen are so gracious and appreciative. Many travel by one or two tap-taps or walk to the clinic for therapy. We generally give a home exercise program and find that these have been done religiously. Family support is incredible; each patient has at least one family member that is devoted to their care. The translators warmly welcomed us in the clinic and are providing essential communication for the clinic's operation. This is our first opportunity to use the Internet as weather conditions dictate connectivity. Stay tuned for more...

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Darn! Why did I come here and have to follow Jennifers Blogs. She is the funniest person ever and now I have that pressure. After looking thru our photos from the last few days, I have reflected on all the good that has come from this trip. My first day, I hit the ground running. It took a couple days to figure out the System, NOT! There is no System. All you need to know is how to be a Doctor, Administrator and how to do Physical Therapy. Actually the Hospital Administrator, Josian, really knows the ropes and can do anything. We did not pull that card so many times not to be able to ask again. We have had the best environment in the Clinic this week with all the Feng Shui type arrangement of equipment. The Translators have been wonderful and feel like our Boys. Sometimes you encourage, keep them on track, track them down, threaten or just beat them silly (not really). Just like your own Kids. With out them, we would not have as much fun or be able have fun with the Patients. It was pretty funny trying to persuade one Patient that as I did Soft Tissue Release I discovered that he was white underneath the dark skin. He did not know that he had been born a white child. I know this is almost as good as Jennifers but, I will stop now and pick up again tomorrow.
It is my last day in Haiti and I am already sad to leave all of my new Friends and the good that I know I can do. Jennifer has been here for 2 weeks so, she feels the same but, ready to get back to her Loves in the US. The MU Professors come in this Morning for the "Orientation". I am excited for that. I wonder if MU pays for their travel. As for me, my lovely Husband has held down all of his Jobs (Parent, IS Director etc.)so that I could be here. Today I will measure the feet of the Lost Boys so I can send shoes back to them and see what our Translators would value most (Wet Wipes I am pretty sure). I will post again.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Comfort and Music- Jennifer

Here on Day thirteen, Mary introduced me to two amazing comforts: How to freeze your water bottle at night so it's frozen the next day for your water, and the fact that our seats in the Arnoldmobile recline a little bit so you can chill on the way home. There is a big group staying at the guest house now. Forty-five people from a mission in the US. So, last night I was the expert at where the restrooms are, and where the hidden light switches are, how to find the water, and things like that. I hatched a plan to tell them how mean Dr. Bernard is-- a real tyrant, and not to look him directly in the eye. I tried to convince him it would be fun to be like Hitler for a day. I'm sure he will follow through. I showed him how you can see his house and the pool on the GPS and he was amazed.
Today we continued the ongoing of our legacy of bringing American Slang to the clinic. Today's glossary includes: "Take a load off", "What the heck are you doing", "Chillax", and "That sucks." So the guys went around saying, "that socks!!" Translator Quotes of the Day: "Cats and dogs will be raining tonight!" and "Jenny-fer will be gently to you."
I exchanged addresses with two of my female patients today. They are so sweet and so beautiful and we love each other. They are fighting so hard to recover from their serious injuries. I told them that even if it takes twenty years, they need to come to my doorstep and stay at my house. One of them is named Elita, and she asked me if I could give her something to remember her by and I told her I would. Then Mary and I sat around racking our brains for something we could make her or give her. In the process of doing that, the "lost boys" (five or six children that befriend us daily) saw us playing with a few colored paper clips and immediately wanted to construct something with these interesting new objects. We showed them what they were used for, but we were struck by how these children's brains are so active, creative, ingenuitive...moreso than priveleged children in the US, and how noteworthy that is. What a lesson.
Guibson is continually and tirelessly recruiting patients for us. He is worried that if we don't grow as a clinic, he will not have work. Today he hit the jackpot with a four year old boy named Junior that lives near him who has a below-the-knee amputation. He has no crutches, so for two months he has been hopping on one leg. He is excellent at it, but we gave him a pair of crutches to use for when he gets tired, and we showed him how to make his limb stronger and ready for a new leg! We are in the process of connecting Junior to a prosthetist because I know he will be one of those who instantly puts it on and runs around.
I've decided they need more music here. At night, in the tent cities, I am told there is lots of music, singing and dancing. I think music heals the soul and I want some big name musicians to set up on the street and play free concerts here right in the middle of town. I see how popular my ipod is with the young men and young patients here, how they want music that lifts them up, and empowers them. They know the words to popular American music and they crave it. It is this hunger and perseverance that will rebuild and heal things here. It can only get better, that's for sure.
Haiti Dum Dum Sucker Flavor of the Day: Sun-dried Fish
Craving of the Day: cottage cheese and pineapple
Haiti Myth #212: You should use caution when passing on the left, when on a curve, when on the side of a mountain.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jennifer Thoughts...

It is day twelve for me. I feel like this is where I live now. It is routine, in a good way. We feel interested and eager to see what comes our way each morning. I have feelings of not remembering my life at home and the strange priorities I had there. At first when I arrived I was afraid of not knowing how to provide care to my Haitian patients. I had an anxious feeling when Guibson handed me his "intake", and I was left to diagnose and discern how I could help. I so quickly wanted to become comfortable with the structure of things. I was excited when I saw something obvious, like a knee injury with a known healed fracture, versus an unknown, such as a possibly unhealed fracture, or someone with vague pain all over from multiple sources. So now I feel pretty much comfortable with whatever comes along. It took about three or four days to know the storage room, to develop my alternative hand cleaning regimen, and to know how to do patient education with pauses. For Translation. So that. The translators could. Understand what I'm. Explaining to the patient. Without forgetting what. I said.
We say incredible things such as,"I am a shoulder therapist." or "Today I am a pediatric therapist." or "I am a wound care nurse" or "Today I evaluated cranial nerves." (I actually don't know how to do that.)
Today at the end of the day a man appeared in a wheelchair. A hospital worker brought him out to the clinic and said he was waiting for a ride, then he left the man there. The man seemed dazed and he had some sort of a splint and bandage all down one leg. After Alex talked to him we realized the man did not know where he was. Apparently he was hit by a car in Port-au-Prince but instead of being taken to a nearby hospital, the ambulance drove him all the way to our hospital. He was far from home. OK, first things first. Can we get you some crutches. (I know how to do that.) The man was grateful, shocked that we would offer. Inside the hospital they said he couldn't have any. OK, crutches are done. Now, hmmmmm.....he wanted to use my phone. OK, that's easy. Long story short, he made three calls over an hour and a half, finally got a hold of his family who had been worried sick and had not known where he was for 24 hours. After an additional 45 minutes, they arrived to get him. He had to walk, on crutches, about a half mile to catch a tap-tap to get back home. Mary and I so badly wished we could do more. Still, he had a face of eternal gratitude. I took a picture of him crutching away.
At first I felt like I was not making much of a difference, and that I was not doing enough. Then I thought about that well known story about the boy on the beach, who finds a starfish and throws it back in the water to save it. The man approaches and says, "What are you doing? There are millions of them here, you cannot possibly save them all." The boy replies, "I can save this one." It really speaks to those of us who have come here. It is by far the most emotionally difficult thing I have done.
Mary heard from Clifford's mother that they are in need of a tarp. Mary asked Arnold to buy one with her money so he did. He is such a cool dude. It seems like many of us who have come, have that one thing we do that we cannot NOT do. This is Mary's legacy for Clifford. Mine is to get him onto YouTube next week. :) It was really hard yesterday when I took him into the doctor's office, laid him on the table, took out my phone and called Josaine, handed it to the doctor and said, "Talk to each other." Please. Talk to each other about what he needs. It was a risk, because I looked like an idiot. A desperate interfere-er. Eh, who cares. Today he hitched a ride to a children't hospital, that's all I care about. When his little one legged body laid on that table, as the doctor and the administrator talked in Creole for ten minutes...blah blah blah blah...I put my head on his little head and I cried. I tried not to. I told him I loved him.
Judeline is much the same. She is walking farther, showing initiative to come to therapy on her own (we choose our battles with her), but she still will not work her left hand. We put vitamin E oil on it now, my hand chases hers with the little pill capsule until it drizzles on it. Then she gingerly rubs it in with one finger. I tell her she can listen to Brian Libeer's cool music if she will walk, so she is eventually lured into my trap. I gave her mother the number of the LEAP group who will be here doing surgery this weekend. Together we fire that flare into the night sky.
This is the week of referrals. It feels good to have a tentative new prosthetic contact. We sent about eight of our patients names to a new source via e-mail. We hope that works out and that some faceless man will respond.
Mary, Amy and I have decided that if we could combine the compassion, devotion, strength and dedication of the caring Haitian family members with the equipment, environment and technology of our American medical community, we would have a perfect healing utopia. I read about previous teams and their observations of how families watch our care, absorb our techniques in positioning, turning, skin care and the importance of mobility. It is so true. They know nothing else other than
being by their families side, protecting until death.
I knew I would eventually figure out why I was here. I definitely did not know before I came. Some do, I did not at all. I thought it would be more like and a-ha moment, or a light bulb thing. But its more like a maze that takes time to wind through, and you don't know what you've done until you're done. I'm sort of mad because I was homesick for 5 days, then happy for 5 days, now something new is happening and its getting raw and twisty again. Pain of leaving. Grief. Loss. Life. Wishing. Seeing. Smelling. Touching. Tasting the last few days....

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


OMG!I am shocked that I made it to Haiti without any problems. Everything went as planned. Coming to Haiti was a shock due to the collapsed buildings and I have not even been near the epicenter. Contrary to the brokeness is the beauty of the Haitian people and their strength to recover. I am reminded of my Mission trips to El Salvador in a lot of ways.
When I got here I was driven right to the HCH Hospital and started PT treatments pronto. It is the kind of experience that lets you know why you decided to work in this Profession. It is the basic functional care that everyone deserves. Our Translators are great and my Teamate, Jennifer, has just the kind of Sarcasm that I really like. It cuts right to the heart of the matter and relieves everyones tension. Jennifer speaks the truth in a way that all ears can listen. That is, if the tranlations are accurate. Our Patients have been ones that for me cause me to dust off my brain. Recalling Inpatient type skills is a challenge.
The first day was long and tiring due to the time change but, today was very managable. I am looking forward to each day as an adventure. Hopefully we are doing some good and not just bandaide treatment. More when my brain is rested.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Jennifer Week 2

Amy boarded her plane this morning and made it safely back to the US. Passing her in transit was Mary, and I was very excited to see her when she arrived at the clinic at 10am. Mary hit the ground running, as we were well into a busy morning of patients already, when she arrived. I oriented her as we treated and tried to take care of everyone.... things from joint contractures, healed and healing fractures, arthritis,
We spent the second half of the day working with inpatients ranging from a CVA, a diabetic, a man with sacral ulcers, and of course Judeline and Anise. Today Anise left the hospital with baby Isaac. I wish those of you who started her off could have been there to see her off, but we were emphatic with her that she continue to return to see us to keep up with her wearing and ambulation! She has been ill the past three days, so she has not been wearing her shrinker as she should, which is a concern. I think that is the hardest part for me, how an inpatient returns "home", and has no transportation, yet desperately needs our care and attention. I'm glad we confirmed her phone number so we will be in contact. On Saturday, Amy made a video of Clifford walking, my favorite video ever!! It is on Facebook, if you send a friend request to me or Amy you can see it too. In the foreground is Clifford on his little crutches, but you cannot see from the video that there were 6 videos right before it of him just standing there like a tiny statue, refusing to walk in his silent defiance. Then he carefully, adorably walks through the clinic, and Judeline is in the background listening to my ipod and refusing her therapy. We had kept her there a good part of the afternoon stretching her knee and her heelcord and watching her put tiny dots of antiseptic gel on her sensitive hand. She likes my music a little too much and keeps wanting me to listen with one earphone so we can dance. I cannot resist!!
Mary brought up something interesting today. She noticed that in her crutch training, she had forgotten once or twice to address the patients stairs. She was reminded of this when her last patient mentioned that she had a whole bunch of stairs to climb. At that moment, I too realized I had not addressed stairs with my crutch walkers!! We laughed together and I realized I had still not figured out how to transition from my familiar environment to this one....should I ask if they have a sturdy handrail?? Do I tell them to do their exercises on their bed? No, I say, "Do this where you sleep." Amy figured out last week not to say, "Stand at your kitchen counter," and instead say, "find something to hold onto." We hope our translators figure out what the heck we are would think by now, watching us teach the same things over and over and over, they would be used to explaining this. Still I am not sure. As we send them back into their environment, whatever that may be, we do it a tent? A second story flat? A little curtained room? Or the same house they were in before? We continue to search for words to say, ways to understand what they are going through, and I knew I had been here a long time, because today the ride home was a little boring. That says a lot if you have ridden these streets!!

Friday, May 7, 2010


Today was yet another great day! After a very busy morning, the afternoon slowed down and we were actually able to finish up relatively early today.
My morning began with a discussion on the age of our patient, Clifford. Clifford is a "three-year old" patient whose leg was amputated after the earthquake. Yesterday when I first met Clifford, his mom told me he was five. However, all previous documentation indicated that Clifford was three. When I asked her about the discrepancy, Clifford's mom stated that she did not know why everyone was documenting his age to be three since he was, in fact, five years old.
Today, Clifford and his mom were back at the hospital, this time to see a pediatrician. When Clifford's age was brought up again, Clifford's mom told us that she was sure he was five, but that she did not actually know when he was born.
So, he's three or he's five...that's a big difference in age. We are skeptical that Clifford is actually five. For now, we don't have an age for this beautiful little child. Our translator Alex asked me, "How can she not know when her own child was born?".
Since we finished up early this afternoon, Jenn and I took our first trip to downtown Port au Prince. So much damage, so much rubble, so much trash and so many tents. We wondered, how will they ever be able to repair this city? How long will these people have to live in tents? There is still so much to do before rebuilding can even start.
We were driven through streets of downtown PAP by our driver, Ernold. Despite the tents, rubble and damage, Ernold was so clearly proud of his city and his home. He was so excited to point out different monuments, museums, the soccer stadium, the "largest hospital in all of Haiti"! When we asked Ernold how he felt about his country, he told us, "It's my home! I'm proud to be from Haiti!".
This is what I love about the Haitian people...they don't dwell on the earthquake and the damage it caused in their city. They don't ruminate on the injuries they sustained in the earthquake. They still see the beauty in Port au Prince and in life itself. They still go about their days and try to make a living. And they do it with laughter and smiles.
Ernold also walked Jenn and I through one of the tent cities. Jenn had two small bottles of bubbles, so we gave them to a couple of the children we passed by. They were so delighted and their parents very appreciative.
After we returned to the guest house, we went down to the orphanage for the first time loaded with donations from us and from our wonderful friends. The children were so excited to see us and were tugging at our clothes. We spent just a little bit of time with them, as it was almost 7pm bedtime!
As fully expected, we fell in love with the kids! I told Dr. Bernard that I'm not quite ready for kids yet, but once I am ready, I'll definitely be returning to Haiti to adopt!!
Every day here has been so rewarding and so fulfilling, but today was such a special day for Jenn and I. We feel so fortunate and grateful that we are here to help, but we both agree that the Haitians may be nurturing us even more!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Jennifer Moments

Well, you may be wondering why so long since posting? Well, our internet is very very patchy the past few days, very slow and inconsistent, or, not here at all!! Maybe clouds? There are many theories passed around...
Wednesday brought a slow clinic day, only about 9 patients total, which was good, because Amy was all by herself in the afternoon so I could go to the NGO (Non-Government Organization) meeting in the afternoon. There were what seemed eight to ten countries represented, presenting and discussing issues related to a new proposed document for Emergency Aid Plans. There was lots of talking and discussing, much in French and Creole. Hopefully the minutes sent to Donna will be in English!!
Today is Thursday, which we had heard was market day, but apparently our many many patients needed us more than the market! We saw nineteen patients today including three inpatients. Yesterday and today I became a hand specialist, which is a first. I practiced my joint mobilization, distraction and ranging techniques with three patients, all earthquake crush victims. They are so tough, sitting there letting me do my thing and gritting their teeth. I am glad to see them progress and be able to use their hands in small functional ways in only a few days. My moment of the day came at the end, when I went to see an inpatient stroke victim who came in over the weekend. She is a fairly dense hemiplegic and we had only been able to sit her up or stand her twice. Her family had been attentive but I knew she needed so much more than we could provide. I went to work with her and to my surprise the nurses said she was being discharged today. I took a deep breath, scooped up all my emotions and set them way over to my right. I grabbed Alex and told him to "buckle up" (new slang I'm teaching) that we were going in to try to do some basic teaching for her family. Our translators have been having some issues with modesty with inpatients who need care but have little in the way of covering...they are not comfortable and we are trying to work on this. We ended up together, me, Alex, our patient and her son and daughter, helping them quickly learn how to dress her, transfer her to a wheelchair which I found in the storage and gave to them, discussed turning and supporting her arm, and most importantly coming back to see us as soon as possible. Thankfully, we know from others who have gone before, they will return to our clinic, and they will care for their mother. I am told there is only one nursing home in all of Haiti.
I have a new understanding of the previously explained concept of "Lost in Translation." My favorite new examples are when our translator will have a rather lengthy exchange with a patient, back and forth a few times, clarifying a question I needed answered. For example, I might ask, "How long has it been since he has not been able to walk?" They discuss it for a long time, I will then ask the translator, "What is he saying?" He will say, "Two weeks." Hmm...I know there was more there....
Oh well....
Days are hot, but more bearable than I'd imagined as long as we drink water. We are very busy, and I have learned the Creole words for "Sweaty" and "Flies" and "Squeeze it!"
Amy and I laughed hard on the van ride home, singing some American songs to Arnold and pointing out the polar ends of the spectrum of beauty on the Haitian streets. Tonight we are listening to one of the house workers play his guitar and sing for us. I will remember this...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Jennifer-First Days

Amy and I arrived on Monday morning eager to see what this airport thing was all about. It was indeed quite a crazy scene!! I did accidentally hire a nice young man, mostly because I had a duffle bag I was very tired of carrying and he knew that. After some negotiating, we agreed on $2 and half of my airport sandwich. Next time I will repeat to myself, "Get the cart, get the cart." We arrived at the clinic around 10:00 and began a whirlwind day of seeing patients, orienting to the storage areas and small intense conversations with Donna and JoAnn about communication, translators, culture, documentation. My head was very full and we were very tired from our 3:30 wake up!! All of us rode back together through the unbelievable streets of the market, packed with wall to wall people (who walk in the streets dodging cars like a video game). There was one puzzling detail about the ride. A woman riding with us needed to get out to buy some garlic. We sat for 15 or 20 minutes and waited for her. Donna named her the garlic lady. She never came back so our driver said, "We will leave." Interesting. So we left, then 15 or so minutes later she called and (of course) needed a ride, so we turned back to get her, through the market streets all over again!! I was taking many pictures of this unreal scene of pill sellers and vendors. On Tuesday we arrived at the clinic 2 hours early to accomodate Donna and JoAnn getting to the airport on time. I enjoyed practicing walking around and saying "Bonjour!" to the staring faces and watching them light up and respond to that. It is important to me that they understand we want to help them. We had a great day, the translators were eager and willing to be present and helpful, we saw many orthopedic patients, back pain, a man with an ACL tear from 7 years ago who was swelling, lots of hand trauma (thank goodness we had an OT there from another therapy effort nearby.) Many patients are returning from being seen before. They are very compliant!! Amy helped one woman I had seen the day before and diagnosed her bad kidney infection that I had missed. She handled it great. She and another PT who was visiting got her a lab test and she will return tomorrow for results. After the day, Gibson told us that we had seen more patients that day than any other day yet!! We were excited about that. The most exciting thing was at the very end of the day an enormous shipment of bottled water arrived. Everyone from the entire hospital came out to see. Cases and cases and cases of water. Hospital workers were carrying water inside and the workers unloaded it into a huge mound of cases of water right at the loading dock. We were hoping some of it would make it to the patients. We were a little distracted as we thought about where all those 50,000 plastic bottles would end up. Let's just say its not in the local Deffenbaugh recylcing center. All in all I was very happy to get our first day under our belt, no pun intended!!

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Driving through the streets of Haiti this afternoon, JoAnn and I had a great conversation about what is it we enjoy about this country. It is ungodly hot, the traffic horrid, there is no infrastructure or organization to anything (we do not believe the word “organize” exists in the Creole language!), the poverty and lack of medical care is appalling and yet there is an energy here that draws you in and you find you don’t want to let go or back away, but only embrace it. We decided it is the connectedness between the people that helps them to survive as a group. In the US we have such a focus on independence and individualism, but I think at times that separates us and maybe leaves us feeling a bit alone. Here in order to survive, you must function as a collective unit. One person on their own would never have the means to make it. I drive through Port au Prince at 5:00 pm after work on streets as crowded as those in New York City, but the people here interact with each other completely and with an energy you want to share. There are no masses walking quickly and anonymously, ignoring each other.
The traffic here is so bad with the drivers nearly hitting each other and the pedestrians every minute or so, but there is no “road rage” or anger ever seen. JoAnn asked why in the US where life is comparatively easy, do many people have such anger? We decided it was because people in the US often feel so isolated, alone and maybe afraid. The Haitians may be poor, but in terms of spirit they are so rich. When you come here that spirit is intoxicating and you want to join in and connect to that collective energy. It has been hard for each of the teams so far to leave Haiti and the “re-entry” to US life has been a struggle. I think leaving that feeling of belonging to something bigger than yourself and drawing your energy from that on a daily basis is difficult.
On a lighter note, these were my favorite “only in Haiti” moments today. We passed a sign that advertised Plop Plop service. JoAnn’s best guess was a plumber? We passed an old woman with a T-shirt on that said “Sexy Diva.” I am guessing she had no idea what it said in English. At the hospital another grandma had one that said, “Too sexy, Too smart, Too much attitude.” Seeing that on a small woman with sagging breasts, stooped shoulders, knocked knees and grey hair was great! We saw a goat “mowing” the lawn in front of the Gold’s Gym building. Yes, they have a building that says “Gold’s Gym” on the top with paintings of muscled men and women on the sides. It appears to have been turned into a government building of some sort as it has a “No Parking” sign in front. Not that anyone pays attention. People here also carry everything on their heads. Baskets, water jugs, food and things you would expect. As well as toilets, cinder blocks and what appeared to be a 50# bag of charcoal by a 5’tall skinny little woman.
Nothing seems impossible for the people here. They do what they have to each day to get by. And they do it with smiles on their faces and a song on their lips. I will miss them.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Early this morning, while waiting for out-patients, a group of men arrived to check out the water purification tanks that had been set up for the hospital immediately after the earthquake. Apparently they had trained several men in the process however no one was following through! (and no one knew what was in those big black tanks!!)
I still can’t believe the two large water tanks just outside our clinic could have been providing drinking water the whole time we’ve been here! Most days have been a challenge just to wash our hands. Once a water filtration system is in place this will make a huge difference for the patients, their families and for us.

Today we had two additional P.T. volunteers from Quisqueya that are in town but without a place to work. We were quite excited to have them until we realized that May 1st is a national holiday in Haiti (similar to our Labor Day) and NO patients came to the clinic all day!! Judeline was treated to the undivided attention of three P.T.s and two new translators (very handsome male medical students). She relished the spot light and made amazing progress. We worked on standing tolerance, posture and balance without any UE support followed by walking with only one crutch held with her uninvolved arm! She is looking so much better and stronger! We’re hoping to have a prosthetist look at her tomorrow for adjustments and to progress to her permanent prosthesis. Her hand continues to improve slowly but steadily.

At the end of the day another soccer ball mysteriously appeared for our young friends who show up at the clinic at the end of every day…we will post pictures of Guibson, Alex, Emmanuel and the kids at a pick up football game.

Adventures in Haiti is our theme and our latest happened today while returning home from the clinic. We were about half way up the mountain when the car stalled with smoke pouring in through the vents! Donna and I were ready to jump out of the car right then but Ernold and his buddy said…”wait…wait” while they attempted to restart the engine…Ernold got out and, looking under the hood said, “get out”!

Some things happen the same way all over the world….three men, a broken down car, the hood propped open and long serious discussions. One of the mysteries of life! Donna and I watch as they look at the dip stick…even we can tell there’s no oil in this vehicle. We gingerly suggest that maybe…just maybe… the radiator needs some water too….seems to fall on deaf ears…really?! Just as they finish adding the 4th quart of oil, Alex (our knight in shining armour) pulls up behind us and sweeps us into his AIR CONDITIONED car to take us home! On the drive he recounts some hilarious conversations he has had with Sean Penn!!! He tells me he will take me over to the country club tent city to meet him soon!
More adventures to come!


We went to the clinic this morning and no patients showed up. Turns out May 1st is a national holiday kind of like our Labor Day. You would think someone might have mentioned this to us! No hospital staff, none of our translators, no patients, no one at the guest house said a word. I guess they all assumed we would know somehow? There was no traffic today with the holiday, so that was one nice change. We had a team of 2 PT’s from another volunteer organization join us. Four PT’s and no patients! We had them work with our in-patients and I re-organized the storeroom of donated supplies. It was kind of nice to have a relaxing day with a different pace than usual. Emmanuel one of the translators and I found boxes of new crutches, a bunch of canes which we desperately needed, many new hand and finger splints, shoulder supports and pressure cushion options for the bed- bound patients. I did not know any of that was available before as there are so many boxes just piled up of donations. Emmanuel saw one of the arm slings was of a different design as we were unpacking them. I put it on myself and explained to him how it would be useful for a patient. He smiled and said that one of JoAnn’s out-patients Emil had a problem with his shoulder just like I described and could use that sling. He is learning so much already! I told him he is a true PT in the making. Guibson brought us 6 ripe mangos today and I brought him peanut M&M's. We both thought the trade was terrific.
On the way home the car began to smoke from the engine and stopped in the middle of the road. Luckily it was right in front of a small store with a sign in English that said, “Auto Parts Supply.” The driver, a passerby and 2 men from the store stood over the engine and discussed things. It looked a lot like men in America. It takes a group to discuss engine or tool malfunctions and come to a consensus. It was decided that there was no oil, and this was confirmed when they were able to empty 4 quarts in before it was full. Then they began to add water to the hot radiator which immediately became a geyser spewing the hot liquid. JoAnn and I backed up and commented to each other that at least we knew better than to do that and we are not auto mechanics! Just when we had our doubts that we would ever get home, who pulls up behind us but our new friend Alix who lives at the guest house. He chauffeured us home in his car with AIRCONDITIONING!!!! It was lovely. Once again whatever we need here in Haiti just appears right in front of us.
We spent about an hour playing with a group of 8 boys hanging around the hospital today. They have learned they must stay away from the clinic while we are working during the day, but can come by after the patients have gone. JoAnn gave them a soccer ball and they had such fun playing in the hospital parking lot. None of them spoke English, but somehow we learned that they like the music of 50 Cent, Rhianna, Beyonce, Akon (they could sing his songs in English or Creole) and Michael Jackson (one little guy did an awesome moonwalk!) They like Jackie Chan movies and liked my imitation of his karate moves, James Bond, Spiderman, Batman and Shrek. Most of these boys do not have shoes, food or water but I guess they see American movies somewhere. We shared water with all of them and the kitchen has started feeding them the leftover food this week at lunchtime. They taught me all the body part names in Creole and I taught them the names in English. It seems the boys go out and roam the neighborhoods during the day and I assume the girls stay at home. Two of the boys had on Croc shoes. We see these all over Haiti on adults and children. I think it is because they last so long, but many of these Crocs have seen better days. I have started taking pictures of all the feet I find in them and thought I would send them to the Crocs company to let them know their product lives on even if the market for it in America has slowed significantly. Tomorrow we plan to sleep until noon if we can and just rest! Watch the Extreme Makeover show for us!