Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kim and Tyler Day Six.

We have just finished our sixth day at the therapy clinic. Words really can't describe the week we just lived. The Haitians are wonderful people and they have been so kind and helpful to us. They really appreciate the teams that are coming to the clinic. We have seen quite a few orthopedic and neurological conditions (including three cases of bell's palsy which I found a bit unusual) and we have seen some interesting conditions as well such as the young man who came in with right and left foot drop from tuberculosis. We were able to find a brace for his left foot but then we were not able to place his foot back into his shoe with the brace. My son has feet the size of a clown so he was more than happy to give his tennis shoes away. It was great to see how much better he walked with his new brace and he loved his new shoes. Others have come to the clinic to seek medical advice because you must pay for medical services in Haiti and many can't afford care.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kim and Tyler -- Louisville Kentucky to Port au Prince

We have just finished our second full day of work in the therapy clinic at the Haitian Community Hospital. My eighteen year old son Tyler is with me as are two physical therapists. We have been fairly busy so far. The patients are so happy to see us. We have seen a lot of fractures from the earthquake, five stroke patients, two patients with bells palsy and an assortment of aches and pains. They have ranged in age from three to seventy. We have a pediatrician from one of the missionary groups coming to work with us tomorrow to consult on some of our cases. I am excited about that because he brought some prednisone with him which may be helpful with our bells palsy cases. I have needed splints on several occasions and we have enjoyed getting creative with the bits and pieces of splint supplies. Tyler is using the candy we brought to entice the children in therapy to reach and stretch a little bit further.

He also has been entertaining the “lost boys” and there are usually about 8-12 of them hanging around him. Today we brought an extra gallon of gatorade for them to have. It is so sad to hear a child tell you that he is hungry and thirsty. We are going to acquire some shoes for two of them because their shoes are completed filled with holes on the bottom. They also found out that I have band aids so we covered many of their cuts.

We spent time with the missionary groups that were here this past weekend. They included us in all of their service work. We helped to pass out fifty pound bags of rice and we played with some children at an orphanage. It amazes me to see the joy and appreciation the Haitains have given their extremely challenging living environment.

I have found out the hard way that it can take three days to dry our clothes around here (hand washed clothes may I add). The first two days they hang in the bathroom and remain completely moist because there is so much humidity in the air. The third day I got smart and hung them outside only to start the whole procedure over again when the late afternoon five minute storm hit.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Seven Weeks! So many successes and such immediate challenges.

Two months ago today, Jo Ann, Eliott, Judy and I arrived in Fort Lauderdale and excitedly began repacking bags in our hotel room so we could fit more crutches in them. Who knew there were entire rooms filled with crutches already awaiting us in Haiti!
The Global Therapy Group clinic has been open for seven weeks now and is already seeing 20 to 25 patients a day. The teams who followed us did such a marvelous job. They expanded on what we had started and began new ideas of their own. One team created an outreach program to a nursing home behind the hospital and began holding group exercise classes there a few afternoons a week!
Our immediate problem is that we are coming to the end of our scheduled volunteers. Our last team leaves June 19th and as of today, I have no team in place to follow them. The idea of the clinic sitting empty for 2 weeks makes me so worried and sad. Patients will come each day and no one will be there. Will they ever come back? Will they just assume the volunteer therapists have now gone like all the other medical teams?
I have some therapists scheduled for July, August and early September but need many more. I have had lots of email inquires from volunteers asking for more information, but few have made a formal commitment to dates. I just keep trying to have faith and put one foot in front of the other each day. (Or one finger in front of each other as most of my work for this project concerns sending hundreds of emails!) I keep waking up at 4:00am worrying, say a prayer, and then try to go back to sleep.
Jo Ann and her husband have been busy working on our website and hope to have it up and running by this weekend. Try typing in soon and hopefully pictures of some of our wonderful patients will appear.
Judy has volunteered to host a fundraising event for us at her family’s new venue in south St. Louis called “The Warehouse”. Save the date for July 17th at 7:00pm. It will be a great party with music and a silent art auction featuring photography from an artist who just spent a month in Haiti.
Things have come together over the past 2 months in such an amazing way. We just need to find a way to keep it going!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Catherine, Lynn and Sandy: Amazing time in Haiti since May 22

We realize that our time in Haiti will come to an end this weekend and feel we are just beginning to hit our stride. Yesterday we had 24 therapy sessions with both inpatients and outpatients - both referred by doctors and others who have received care at the clinic. Catherine is thrilled to see children with disabilities who have been referred to the clinic by doctors and their friends, while Sandy and Lynn have taken on the inpatients with strokes and other acute conditions.

Judilene, the youth with the BK amputation and reflex sympathetic dystrophy has made great strides, now ambulating with her walker independently AND tolerating a splint on her left wrist (she would not even tolerate light touch of her left hand). Last week a reporter from a Dallas newspaper came to the clinic last to photograph Judilene in therapy with Sandy and Lynn in hopes that this story might generate support for the care of earthquake victims.

We continue to see a stream of patients who have not been seen since the earthquake and who continue to present problems associated with immobilized limbs. But we also see people with more recent trauma who are as eager to restore their body function for their jobs, ranging from sellers in the market to professors who lost their job because the university is demolished. Daily we benefit from the blueprint provided by Donna and those who have helped assemble this busy clinic before us.

What we did not expect during our trip here was the opportunity to travel to downtown Port-au-Prince near the epicenter of the earthquake to see the miles of collapsed buildings. Major facilities used the government, business, and educational sectors supporting the community lay in rubble across the city. These sobering sites are contrasted to the magnificent views from the mountaintops that we were able to see during our Sundays off from the clinic. Haiti is absolutely beautiful; the people are caring and appreciative; and the experience here is indescribable.

Along with Donna and others in the Global Therapy Group, we see that our efforts are truly making a difference and we hope to sustain these efforts while the Haitian people regain their footing and open their own therapy clinics in this beautiful country.