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Kate Westrate Update 3/27

WOW! What a week! We wrapped up clinic today really early. I don’t know if I told you yesterday we had a little girl with Down’s Syndrome–which is pretty rare here. She came in with a bad case of mastoiditis and had a huge infection behind her ear, which is concerning as it can become meningitis very easily. Yesterday we gave her injections of Rocephin and started an oral antibiotic and had her mother bring her back again today. She really needs a good run of IV antibiotics but that’s not a reality for the people here. So we gave her another injection of Rocephin today and asked her mother to keep an eye on it. She was a handful though and I can imagine this other had her hands full, as this girl with Down’s was the youngest of 12 children. We cleaned up the clinic and packed everything away and then 7 of us headed into Jeremie for the afternoon to hang out with some our interpreters. If you ever see those “Rough Road Ahead” signs around town, I will now laugh every time I see one after riding on the roads here. We packed 8 people into the Montero that church owns and FLEW down the roads today. It was just nuts! I was in the very back seat right next to the back door and held on for dear life. It’s probably about the equivalent of riding a wild bull for 40 minutes into town. You have to learn to “jousle” with the bumps, but it’s a little difficult when our local driver flies over the washed out road. We made there and back safely though. We started our excursion in Jeremie today at the city’s hospital— if you think our health care is bad, you would never complain again if you saw this place. Out of respect for the patients we didn’t take a ton of pictures (no HIPPA of course), but this was just unbelievable. I don’t think we actually met another doctor at the hospital besides the local one we’ve been working with all week. I saw a couple nurses, but mostly it’s the families that care for the patients. They have to bring in their own sheets for the beds, medications, and food. Some patients have their wife parked at the end of their bed with pots/pans around her as she cooks them food. There were a lot of trauma patients from different accidents around town–many who will most likely lose their limbs to infection. There was one guy sitting out on the side courtyard in a bed with a mosquito net over him– his legs were rampant with infection and the netting was the only thing keeping the masses of flies away from him. Dr. Marx brought us in see on the patients he comes to see every day. She was a 59 yo with extensive breast cancer. I have NEVER in my life seen something so terrible. Dr. Marx undressed her right breast which was the most extensive cancer I’ve ever seen. I’m sure she had abdominal, lung, and liver mets just by looking at her. Flies were everywhere, and it was pretty terrible. Dr. Marx said that if he doesn’t come to the hospital daily, her dressing on her chest would never get changed and it was completely saturated when we got there. It’s honestly amazing that she’s even alive, and what’s even more amazing is that she did not show one sign of distress, pain, or have a single complaint. The Haitian people are so stoic–I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s like they’ve seen so much, it couldn’t get worse, so why react. From the hospital we went and visited one of the interpreter’s, Tony, business. This was pretty impressive. He has a building on a very busy corner of the street that just really has a couple open doors for people to walk up to. He specializes in charging cell phones– everyone has cell phones but no one has electricity enough to charge them, sells cell phone minutes, and beer. He is a great business man and has done quite well for himself. I’m pretty sure he probably makes more than me in the US, which is saying a lot in the Haitian world. He was very generous, showed us around, and offered us some beers. Jan, Denise, and I even got to ride on the back of Baba’s motorcycle which was a bit of a thrill. I think he calmed down the ride, compared to how they usually drive, but it was still pretty sweet! 🙂 Baba then took us for a little tour of the city. We walked to the big cathedral in town, but couldn’t go in because there was a funeral going on. We walked the main strip and to the harbor to see the ferries from Port-de-Prince bring in the goods for market and then walked over to the fishing wharfs to look at the boats. We all kept commenting that no matter how much poverty the people were living on (and we walked through one of the poorest areas of the town) they almost all have clean clothes on and look very presentable. They take better care of themselves than most Americans. It’s amazing to me– they have so much pride. I don’t think it’s a bad pride either– it’s them saying, “This is what we have and we are going to do the best we can with what we are given.” They may not have the nicest things, but their clothes are cleaner than most of the people that come into our ERs at the hospital. I really respect that. Tomorrow is Sunday and we will worship at the church with the people we have worked with all week. I look forward to this. Even though we won’t be able to understand any of the service or the words being sung, God’s presence will be there as we all worship together. This has been an amazing experience and I am glad that we are ending the week worshiping together. After church we will be driving down to the beach about 30minutes from here and having a fish cookout on the beach. I’m looking forward to this, as the ocean is breathtaking. Monday morning we will be trying to catch our plane back to Port-de-Prince, and hope to do some sight-seeing and hospital visiting while in Port-de-Prince. It will all depend if we are able to fly out of Jeremie on time Monday morning though. It’s always bittersweet to leave a place like this. I’ve made wonderful friends and connections with both the people that live here and people on my team. Yet I miss home very much and look forward to flushing toilets and cheeseburgers— we’ve all been dreaming about the food back home for the past couple days now. 🙂 I hope you all have a blessed Sunday!

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