Monday, May 27, 2013

Michelle, PT in Haiti

thoughts & lessons from Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Day 3

I’m sitting in my room right now and it’s raining like crazy outside. Sounds of thunder roll in once in awhile… but it’s kind of a nice, calming feeling. It’s rainy season here in Haiti which means more mosquitoes and more humidity! Luckily, it was sunny and dry the whole day.

Today was a great day in the clinic. I saw 5 patients today - most of them were stroke patients. It’s sad to think how little follow-up care there is for people who have had a stroke, especially since it requires life-long rehab. At home, the continuum of care is so comprehensive but here, people just take whatever little they can get. It’s really cool to see how much of an impact this little clinic has made in the past 3 years though, and also really neat to hear about all the volunteers who have come from all around the world to help.

One story in particular that I wanted to share: today I got the chance to work with Franz, a patient who had a stroke about 2 years ago. Andrew said he was a very hard worker and really motivated, coming to the clinic twice a week for therapy. He is also the owner of a nice local bakery. Anyways, we went through our treatment and it was a nice change of pace because I found out he spoke English in addition to French and Haitian Creole so we were able to have a conversation. I asked him how he learned English and he told me how he had spent some time in the US Army as well as in NYC to study accounting. Not only that, he was also trained as a pilot and a baker. He was such a nice man and Andrew was right - a hard worker and positive guy, despite his limitations. At the end of his treatment, he had someone send us some pastries - such a wonderful guy!
Reflecting back on today, I am really encouraged when I think about Franz. He was clearly very accomplished and had much to be proud of - fluent in three languages, serving in the Army, trained as a baker, pilot and accountant… But just working with him in the clinic today - I would have never known because he just acted like a normal, down-to-earth guy, joking and laughing… giving 110% during our therapy today. He had such a positive attitude and the dedication he had was inspiring.

I was reminded today of the resilience and strength of the human spirit. I was reminded also that in the end… no matter where we’ve come from, what language we speak, what we’ve accomplished or not accomplished, or our abilities or disabilities… there is always some capacity in which we have the opportunity to inspire and encourage one another. Franz did that for me today. It never ceases to amaze me how much I continue to learn from my patients every day.

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