Monday, June 21, 2010

Trauma Queen Comes Out.

We had some weddings at the Ranch House. Tanya and Tristan started it, and worked their behinds off to make it wonderful. The Ranch House is the community center of, "The Ranch", where Bob and I have lived since 1972.

Tanya and Tristan invited their wedding guests to be creative, wear their wedding gowns, renew vows etc.

So I get out my wedding dress from 40 years ago, luckily I figured out a way to fold the top down and I was able to get it on. My original veil was this giant white net that went down to the floor, with a hideous headdress with fake silk daisies. Several years ago I took a scissors to the veil and made it short for dress ups. The thing has gotten a lot of mileage.

Bob's and my 40th wedding anniversary just happened to be the next day (June 20). Bob put on the coat of his original 1970’s brown courderoy suit with bell bottoms. It still fits him!!! We got up front and declared what a miracle that he has put up with me for 40 years.

Erin and Jeramiah have a beautiful baby girl. The morning of the wedding I was picking flowers and found out that Erin bought a wedding dress and rings. She was having a wedding within a wedding.

I volunteered to make her a brides bouquet. We happened to have our three girls with identical flower girl dresses from a family wedding three weeks ago. I had a spice cake from our Haiti Slide show bake sale, so I picked some edible flowers to decorate it. The whole wedding took 5 minutes to plan. Worlds lowest stress wedding. Thank you Tristan and Tanya for a wonderful celebration of love, a great contribution to our community life. Deborah thinks we should do group weddings once a year.

Pictures: Lynn and Bob, Lynn and Bob, Tristan and Tanya, Erin and Jeramiah with girls

Haiti Update: We are still working night and day to put on our Music Festival on August 21. Next post will lay it out for you.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I have not felt so alive in years

Ukiah Team 5 is in Haiti. She is our RN Alice, the last straggler on our first round of volunteer medical teams to the Hopital Adventiste d'Haiti. Every person is changed and wants to go back. As Leanna said, "I have not felt so alive in years".

I heard from Jean my interpreter. He has started his language school in a church. He checked on my baby Sara and says her family is OK and she is doing well. Patti our RN from Team 1 is back in Haiti to pick up her two new girls from the orphanage. She is coming back with Gregory their father to complete the adoption paper work in the United States. Kathy from materials management at our hospital is organizing a "shower" for them.

Words From Skip Ukiah Team 4

We are home, it has been four days and all I can think of is Haiti.
The beautiful people that we encountered, their warmth, their appreciation.
Like everyone else I will never take for granted our supply chain, or the length of lab turnaround.

From the moment we arrived with the group from Children’s Hospital Oakland (CHO) we worked well together and got done whatever was necessary. A wonderful group of people that I hope to keep in touch with.

On my third busy day in Haiti, I am on my way to start an IV on a baby when this very large man comes bursting in the ER saying, "Let me in I have an emergency". As if that did not get our attention, the two armed men bringing in a young, well-dressed woman in a wheelchair did indeed. I took one look at Tammy from CHO and said, "I got this".

It turned out the woman was being treated for malaria and typhoid and had been found down in her home. She presented to the ER with completely altered mental status. Several members of out team, Bryon, Tammy and one of the Haitian nurses helped gather supplies, while I started an IV, labs etc. It became apparent that this woman was suffering from a serious form of malaria and was not doing well. The Miami field hospital was contacted, they have a portable CT scanner along with a neurosurgeon and they accepted the transfer.

I will never forget that ride across town; lights and sirens over some of the roughest roads you could imagine, UN troops with their machine guns, the intense rain, flooding, total devastation all around us and all I could think was please do not start seizing now. I cannot express the relief we all felt upon arrival. The team at the Miami field hospital were awesome and we felt that she was in the best place possible considering her serious condition. I remember the look her husband gave me and mouthed, "thank you". That day was his 39th birthday. I wonder if she made it?

At the Hopital we began relationships with wonderful people that will stay with me the rest of my life. When asked if I would go back all I can say is "when do we leave"?

Pictures: Patti's new daughter, Skip with translators, Poster for our slide shows

Friday, June 11, 2010

Saving Haiti 20 Girls at a Time

Charlucie Jaboin and I talked on the phone yesterday. She is a Haitian woman who lives in New York and is the president of the the Reveil Matinal Orphanage in Port au Prince. The 20 girls are hers. She and her group are thanking God that we found them. The orphanage was formed 4 years ago, sometimes they do not have enough food, right now they have not paid their staff in months. She is my new best friend and we are making plans. Here is an excerpt from my email to her.

We are so busy here with the benefit for the orphanage, it is making me a little crazy. We have 2 slide shows next week to inform the public about our work in Haiti and promote the music festival. We have teams going to the Sierra Nevada Music Festival at the same time to person a table to promote the event and sell tickets. I have never put on an event this big and I might explode in the process. If you are Adventist then you know about the Sabbath (I am not Adventist). I am on the Sacred Work Council at our hospital (an Adventist hospital). We have talked about the meaning of the Sabbath and I have been thinking about it a lot lately. I want to rest, reflect, rejuvenate, for 24 hours each week. I see the point.

PS. I am holding everyone of your girls in my heart and prayers, I love them and want to be part of helping them grow up to be beautiful women who have a good life.

Today I went to the website and made a donation with pay pal.

Words from Becky

I wanted to share this email I got from Junior, one of the translators. It is so sweet. I thought you'd want to share it as words from a Haitian. I can't believe HE is thanking ME so much.

----- Message transféré ----
De : Variant Augustin Junior

Hey Becky, how are you ? This is Variant Augustin Junior. It's a pleasure to me to write you in this time, for being able to know how are you doing and to say how much I was happy by reason of your help that you gave in Haiti. The main thing cause me to write you is because I wanted to say to you hello, to know how was your trip? How your family is doing, and to thank you the big thing that you did in Haiti. I didn't find any chance to thank you when you're in Haiti. You are very kind-full and a co-worker with the Haitian patients. I don't have any treasures to offer you to reimburse you but you're an angel. I believe that God knows anything that I wanted to give to you so that is gonna push me to pray for you.  That God protects you in anything that your doing most of all when you're walking in the street and keep on blessing you with your family completely.  Keep straight you in his way. This is Junior your loving translator which never forget you.
   God bless you.     

Words from Briana Ukiah Team 4

Things are going fine. A large group of volunteers 25 arrived last Friday. Most of them are from Children’s Hospital Oakland. We have a pediatric anesthesiologist, pediatric plastic surgeon, two pediatric intensivists, two adult orthopedic residents, a general surgeon, two family practice MDs, an ER doc, and two midwives. In addition to about 12 plus nurses, 2 PTs, and 1 OT. The hospital is well covered. So much so many people find themselves looking for something to do. I have moved from urgent care, to the lab, to surgery over the course of my stay.

I had the opportunity to steal a translator and spend some time in the lab. They have a tremendous amount of work on their hands. They do not have a hematology analyzer so everything is completed manually. In addition their chemistry analyzer is from the 60's and has a very limited capability. So much so that the lab techs manually separate a patient's sample into multiple test tubes, add a specific reagent (na, k, cl, etc) and wait for the reaction to complete. Then each tube is loaded on the analyzer one by one to be read. They are definitely held back by their lack of tools. They can’t do gram stains as requested because they don’t have grams iodine?? Seems to me that they need some attention, a point of care hematology and chemistry analyzer would help them tremendously and grams iodine shouldn’t be to hard to get. I am sure the practitioners would appreciate it as well. I enjoyed my time in the lab, they were a great group of people. I think they were happy to have someone take interest in what they were doing and hopefully they will benefit from it.

Its been raining a bunch. Makes the air extra humid but it tends to be a bit cooler, although not too much. The rain is worrisome though, more rain will bring more disease and less viable shelter. The streets have rushing water already, and its just the beginning.

The hospital is starting to charge for surgeries, urgent care visits, lab, xray, and a daily volunteer fee. I have heard from several translators that they aren’t being paid which is unfortunate. Seems like without translators most of this work would be impossible. Good thing they have gracious translators who
continue to help without pay out of the kindness of their hearts and deep dedication to help their people.

Pictures: Hands, Translators, Michelle the Pediatrician, Briana on the job.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sean Penn Sighting in Haiti

John Azzaro and I were crying at the same time yesterday. We were listening to KZYX and heard the voices of our 20 new daughters singing from Haiti.

When the Ukiah Team first visited the Reveil Matinal Orphanage in Port au Prince, the girls were running and playing happily in their secure compound. We sat together and made our way carefully through the group meeting each child one at a time. We repeated their unusual French names, and made eye contact. My personal goal was to show each child that I loved and respected her as a unique individual.

We have chosen to sponsor this orphanage, and our hearts are opening.

Words From Linda Ukiah Team 3

Today a group of us decided to go to the Reveil Matinal (Adventist) orphanage on the other side of Port au Prince. Emily had heard of this home for girls through Lynn and knew we had chosen to become sponsors. One of the nurses from the med/surg team is adopting two little girls from there, so we had to go and pick up paperwork. The orphanage was only 12.5 km away, but it ended up taking us 2 hours to get there due to rush hour traffic. The ride was a bit scary: we got lost a few times, were involved in some near accidents, and got stopped by the UN soldiers. We finally made it and quickly realized that the trouble getting there was worth it. The girls were adorable. They immediately attached themselves to us like glue. I had a hard time going up stairs because there were 5 of them that wanted to hold onto my arm, hand or leg. The orphanage was well kept and clean. We gave them presents, it was difficult to keep things fair. Each one got a coloring book, a handful of crayons, a stuffed animal and a toy. Melanie and Crystal led a few songs and then we asked the girls to sing. Their voices sounded so pure and innocent that it made tears well up in my eyes - I didn’t know what they were singing about as they sing in French. Maybe it was the voices or the tempo, but it evoked a strong emotion of sadness and helplessness as I imagined what it would be like to grow up without parents and the stories that led them to become orphans. At the end the translator told me they were singing about the hardships that they have endured, the resiliency of their people and how God will always be with them. Afterward we all sang a song together. They knew one English song and luckily we knew it too. The stay was short but the moments we spent with those little girls is something I will not forget.

Outside the sun had just set and it was dusk. The night life began in Port-au-prince. We passed many brightly colored Tap Taps blaring Haitian music, people out in the market selling their goods by candlelight, other street vendors packing up to go home. People on the move, others lingering about. It felt like everyone was out in the streets. The liveliness contrasted greatly to the images of rubble that we passed. There were fires burning endless piles of trash, and the palace which was somewhat of an eerie image as it sat there toppled over, abandoned and dark.

The trip home was shorter, thank goodness. We were hungry, tired, sweaty and covered in dust from the drive. We pulled up to the hospital to find kids and translators gathered to say good-bye. We took pictures gave hugs and exchanged emails. A few of us headed down the street to grab a bite to eat. We didn’t take a translator which made it difficult to order vegetarian food. The restaurant was owned by a family. They were in the room with us watching the TV and chatting. They introduced their grandmother to us, a tiny lady around 70 years old. She came and gave us all kisses and hugs. It is rare in Haiti to see someone as old as her. After our meal we said our goodbyes to the family like they were old friends.

Words from Brian RN Ukiah Team 4

Haiti is all you guys said it was. There is the destruction that is vast and all encompassing, the abject poverty that I have not dealt with before, the frustration of things not getting done in anything like a timely manner (ER labs that take 24 hrs to get back), and not being able to find routine things we are so used to working with. Even in all of this the Haitian people are so warm, welcoming, friendly and loving. It is just amazing! I was standing in the ER watching people walk through and it struck me how proud they carried themselves, back straight and chin up. It is very cool. We shared the plane with Sean Penn who has been here several times lending himself to Haiti. I didn't have the nerve to talk with him but it was nice to see someone of his stature doing his part. We are here right now with a large contingent from Children’s Hospital Oakland who are pediatric nurses and doctors. A good group to share our time with. Some of the people who are here long term are amazing. 19 yr old David who is handling all the supplies, 22 yr old Luke who seems to be the general administrator, etc. These guys are wonderful and have set the bar pretty high for the rest of us. The hospital has instituted a policy that people have to pay (a minimal amount) for the clinics and this has cut down on some of the patient flow. See you all in a few days. Love Brian

Pictures: Top, Don,t sit here by Michael Turner, Team 3 with the girls of Reveil Matinal Orphanage, Little ER patient, Coloring books from Ukiah to our Girls