We have continued to have busy days in clinic! Tuesday and today we saw patients here at the clinic (around 35 between both days). We are seeing mostly digestive complaints, headaches, cough, skin rashes and infections and high blood pressure. Today we saw an 83 year old thin and frail woman who had generalized itching without cause accompanied by significant unintentional weight loss, fever, frequent fainting and generalized pain. Without imaging and further testing, we can’t know for sure what is causing her complaints, though we both know the symptoms paint a pretty dire picture. We gave her what we could with the supplies we have, and she was very grateful.
On Wednesday we did a mobile clinic to some nearby communties to see people with limited mobility and chronic pain. Our first patient was a gentleman with a complicated stage 3 ulcer on his foot. He had pricked his foot with a thorn 2 months ago and it had progressed into an ulcer with adipose (fat) tissue visible. We used acupuncture to increase blood and energy flow to the area and gave him some topical treatments to promote healing and prevent further infection. We treated the other patients in their homes with acupuncture and massage for concerns like arthritis, headaches, and paralysis. It was a huge honour to enter people’s living space and meet them where they were at. Overall it was a very rewarding day!
Thanks for all of your comments! We love to hear from you!
Today we were back to work after a sleepless night. The air was filled with moans and groans – three mothers were in labour all night long. It is a full moon tomorrow night so no one is surprised! We woke up sleepy but ready to dive in to well child checks. We worked with the head midwife all morning checking 30+ babies. In the afternoon, we assisted a woman who had been labouring here for 16 hours with no real progression (baby wasn’t descending and she was at 1 cm the whole time). The midwives let us pull out all of our naturopathic modalities and doula skills (herbs, homeopathy, acupuncture, positioning) but unfortunately there was little movement with our efforts. In the end, she decided to be transported to the hospital but was so incredibly grateful for all the care she received. Tears streamed down her face as she repeatedly thanked everyone. We were sad to see her leave but it seemed to be the best decision- she had worked so hard for so long and was at the end of her rope. Send your best wishes into the universe for this momma please!
Greetings from Beautiful Haiti!
MamaBaby hasn’t had a dull moment since we last left you a few days ago! The weekend gave us some time to ourselves and to catch up on laundry (hand washing!). Laura and I helped a woman and her family in the community move out of a very bad situation and into a new home with one of the volunteer midwives and her family. When we lit the candle in the new home, they cheered and cried for joy at their new opportunity for life. It was a warming experience to be part of this transition for them.
Sunday was the ultimate of the weekend – we drove up and around and over bumps and rocks and turkey trail roads for over an hour to get to a semi-private beach where we basked in glory all day! We swam and snorkelled, drank Pina Coladas, ate fresh seafood (they went out to ‘catch’ our order) and took a boat ride across the bay. It was a great way ‘to land’ inHaiti– seeing another side of this beautiful country and getting away from the clinic for awhile.
Back to work this week with a busy week ahead. Will keep you posted. Thanks for your comments!
Today we were awoken at 5:30 to the sound of knocking on the front gate… a mama in labour! She was pretty far along (8cm) and it was her first pregnancy. She had amazing strength and gave birth to her beautiful boy within 1 hour of arriving. I (Laura) was on-call to help the midwife in whatever way needed- it was an exhilerating experience! Keshia is on-call for the next birth, which could be at any moment. We will cycle through being on-call to help and do the post-partum care (vitals, breastfeeding, etc) for the rest of the time we are here.
We opened the naturopathic clinic for a few hours this morning and were able to see several patients each. We saw some common complaints- headaches, belly aches, cough, etc. and did our best with the resources we had to help them.
Well- the power is out now so we will sign off for now!
We have arrived at the birth clinic and naturopathic centre, MamaBaby, yesterday early morning after a long night in theFort Lauderdaleairport. Our first day was getting acquainted with Cap Haitian, the nearest major city. After a mini-orientation, today we started work. We went to a nearby school and taught English classes this morning (tons of fun!) then started clinic this afternoon. We saw three patients only because we haven’t formally posted a sign out front to announce that we are here.
So far, the clinic is very different than what we are used to – limited information from patients and translation difficulties are big obstacles. But, we brought so many supplies to add to what was already a good stock, so we have good access to medicines.
It was a bit overwhelming to arrive to a large house full of Hatien and American midwives (one American midwife brought her partner and children too), midwifery students, multiple translators and a WOOFer (volunteer gardener and general helper). We all sleep upstairs and share one bathroom. Add to that the chickens, cooks and hired yard helps and the bustle of the midwifery clinic downstairs with mom’s and babies all day, and this is a very busy place. In one week 14 naturopathic students from CCNM will arrive too. I don’t know how we will sustain all of it, but it will be busy and wonderful, and the best part is that the ND clinic will be in full swing and word is that hundreds of patients come per day.
Haiti is a place of both beauty and tragedy. Women die very often in labour or for other causes (injury, accident, etc), and so orphans are commonplace. Shortly before we arrived, a four month old little girl lost her mother to postpartum hemmorhage and a case of eclampsia that was mismanaged after transfer to the hospital. There are many, many difficulties with the delivery of care in the hospitals and horror stories seem to be all around about it. This little girl who lost her mother was one of the first babies to greet us. Her father brought her here because he couldn’t look after her. Her legs and arms are stick thin and she is passive and subdued. It is hard to see it. Laura and I feed her formula and look after her in the afternoons while her father works in the yard.
Hope all is well in Canada, looking forward to more updates soon 🙂
We have arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and are soon to board the last leg of our flight to Cap Hatian,Haiti. The first 12 hours of our trip have been nothing short of eventful! Our excitement and readiness turned to a quick panic when our car broke down on the 401 en route to the airport! Besides cars whizzing by us and barely enough room to open our car doors, we managed to load all of our gear into a taxi and make it just in time for our flight!
We are pretty exhausted from a broken night of sleep in this very cold and run-down airport with a midnight visit from cockroaches looking for our food crumbs (we quickly learned that sleeping on the floor was not the best idea so managed to fold ourselves into yogi-like sleeping positions on cramped airport chairs).
Despite, we are well and happy, supporting each other and dreaming up in our minds what the next four weeks holds for us. Thanks for all of your support back home!
The month of January has flown by and we are now in our final stages of preparation for our trip down to Haiti. At 6:00 tonight we will be on route from Toronto to Fort Lauderdale (where we’ll kill time in the airport until the next morning) and then we fly off to Cap Hatien, Haiti early Wednesday morning.
We have been blessed with many medical supplies and supplement donations which are currently overflowing from our suitcases! Luckily we were able to share the load with a group of 10 CCNM students who plan to come down for a week in the middle of February. Between all of us the clinic is going to be well stocked!! While there is a lack of sustainability in making big donations such as this (often an ethical issue I wrestle with) – I know that ultimately- at the end of the day, these supplies are needed… and I also know that MamaBaby Haiti works hard to consider all the determinants of health for the community and how it may positively affect change in those areas (ie. growing a huge vegetable garden for patients). I feel like this holistic approach is so important and we are looking forward to learning more about how the organization is run and how it works to empower the local community.
Thank you again everyone for all of your amazing support.
Laura and Keshia