8 March 2010
Today began in the ICU tent – at first I had no idea where I might be placed; I was only hoping to be able to do my job well. The ICU tent turned out to be very similar to a medicine ward, so it was easier for me to feel more comfortable, however the mode of operation was vastly different from the ED tents that I had been used to last week. It started off with a bang – like usual, but then after many questions I was slowly able to get into a routine and figure out the plan for what my day would look like. There were two patients that were our sickest as we began – one turned out to be assigned to me, which added to my overwhelming feelings, but there were certain things that I could do to keep an eye on her. The doctor in the tent was originally not supposed to be there. She was from an organization called Partners in Health. She was fabulous (so extremely helpful and patient)! I loved working with her. There were three nurses and one doc and several Haitian staff (who were not reliable). We also had a translator, but he was in and out all day and hard to track down.
About mid-morning, my very sick patient died. I had stepped out of the room to take some supplies back to the ED and when I came back she had coded (stopped breathing). The staff decided to bag her for the family (because there was nothing that we could do anyway) and Corey pushed some Morphine to make her more comfortable. She was gone quickly. While I was gone, Corey had stepped in, so I was attending to the other patients in the tent while all the commotion was going on. Meanwhile, I was feeling pretty calloused to death. It was as if it didn’t bother me in the least and THAT bothered me. How could I have become so hardened to death and have I lost my ability of care and be compassionate? Do I really care about human life? Am I able to sympathize with a grieving family? So many questions came out of this time and I have felt rather withdrawn and antisocial this evening. Perhaps this is my way of grieving?
The rest of the day went very well. I finally found my groove and was able to feel useful and busy. One of the patients we had was postpartum times five days. She was septic and we found out the the family had been feeding the newborn solid food! The mother was very sick and had a fever for most of the morning. My patient that died had been having a lot of difficulty breathing. She was hooked up to high levels of oxygen via face mask. The oxygen tanks are huge and extremely heavy and we don’t have very many (maybe 3). We also had some very cachectic men who had TB and HIV – I will be surprised if they live much longer.
Families are with the patients 24/7 – cleaning them, helping them urinate, wiping their foreheads, etc… They were so attentive! There were about 20 beds in the tent. There was an “A” side and a “B” side. We split the patients up evenly among us.
We lost power for about five hours today so the tent became extremely hot – the fans that would provide some relief were missed! It was a long day, but so busy that it went by quickly and I am continuing to learn a lot about myself and about the work here. I definitely think that 11East will be a rude awakening to westernized American medicine. Not sure I am looking forward to it…
Jesus, be my light and salvation. Be my comfort and help in time of need. Thank you for wrapping your arms around me during difficult days and days void of emotion. Thank you for understanding how I feel when I don’t feel at all. Thank you for understanding my thoughts and feelings and for knowing my heart. Continue to be with me and all the other volunteers down here as we help, or try to help, these people. Be glorified in our lives. Amen.
*This morning I woke up from my first earthquake dream and it was awful. I can’t imagine what these people have lived through…
**The last picture shows the medications due for each patient (each patient’s medications were written on a small piece of paper; when given, the medication was crossed off…). The “A” side is on the left and the “B” side is on the right. Chaos!