Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sick Season

I wake up too late because I went to bed too late. It’s Wednesday. The past week has been “sick week”.  I feel like I’ve been through a drive-thru; 2 flus, 1 cold, 2 fevers and malaria coming right up. I walk by the boy’s room on my way to make hot water. LK is there, crunched over a top bunk, one hand holding his head, the other his stomach. I look at his face and sense tears he won’t let fall. I head back to my room to grab my thermometer.  As I open the door I hear gagging, coughing, someone getting sick, behind my back window. I grab some pepto forgetting the thermometer. I wind around to the back window and find KB getting sick. Her stomach is unforgivingly denying all prior efforts of eating.  Pepto is pointless. I have her drink some water and then head back to my room to grab the thermometer…again.  I’m stopped in the process by two community members who would like refills on their HCTZ meds. Problem is they saw a doctor last week and he gave them a 3 month supply with instructions not to refill prior. So often I am the “no-mam” here and it’s no fun.  I arrive in my room but can’t remember what I needed. The thermometer, right.  I grab it and go back to LK. As I feel his warm forehead I know I am just waiting on the frantic beeps from the thermometer that a 99.5+ read gives. Beep,beep,beep,beep,beep! No pauses in between. He has a fever. The bell rings for the kids to go to recess and I watch as he cringers at each octave of shrill laughter. I let him relax in my dark, quieter room as I do some work.  JN comes home early from school. Her face registers no emotion. She looks miserable. I head upstairs to take her temperature. The frantic beeps again. A very high fever. No way. Ibprofuen and water, STAT. She sleeps.

 I realize I’m late for teaching English and head to the school.  I finish teaching and realize I’m late for visiting hours. I hurriedly head to the hospital to see little NN who has malaria. With a short conversation and long eye-roll from the guard, I’m let in. I walk past the skin and bones of a man likely dying from AIDS. I enter the pediatric room. Two tiny babies coo, a little boy screams and a mother cries over the blank stare body of her little boy. NN sits up and a little smile slips through. I insist we walk outside. I lie and say she needs fresh air, truth is, I do.  I give an awful manicure with unsteady hands as the guard walks over. I’ve overstayed my welcome and he tells me so. I quickly finish painting the last of her tiny fingernails and then leave.

As we head back I know there is one more stop I need to make. I get back to my room and grab some gloves and ointment. CT, an older man that helps out around the campus, is not “well”. The children tell me in hushed vague whispers that there is something wrong with him and he’s “crazy”.  He lives just across the street. I knock on the large steel gate. His wife comes and lets me in. He’s doing well today. Beyond my confusion there is compassion as he shows me deep, self-inflicted gashes on his wrists that must exposure only the tip of deep wounds that lie within. We chat briefly as I apply ointment. He thanks me and I leave.

I eat my dinner with a heavy, hoping but happy heart, thankful that I was useful today. Hoping that I was useful today. I head back to my room, exhausted. I hop on my computer which luckily has some battery left amid a powerless night. But my day is not done. G, a man who lives here for months at a time building houses in impossible heat without complaint, has been bitten by a dog. He needs a rabies shot. “Where do you get a rabies shot in Haiti?” I think aloud and then go to my mo. Google. The US Embassy website has a list of hospitals and doctors. I call three. No answer. I email 5 with 4 return to sender responses. Awesome. He leaves to try some of the hospitals. Little one enters my room crying. The ants are at it again. They’ve infested her bed and she can’t sleep.  She lays on my floor. After she’s asleep for awhile, with a clean sheet, I carry her up to her room. G returns without success.

I go to bed too late and I wake up too late.

G is making arrangements to fly to Miami for a rabies vaccine. I lookup flight times. I call the Embassy. They offer no options aside from the list from the night before.  I rack my brain for ideas. I remember that an extremely helpful, hardworking doctor in NY had given me the name and email of a health care provider here.  I search my emails and scroll down in a chain. Yes, a phone number. I skype quickly. She suggests trying Medishare, gives directions and wishes me luck! G packs his bags, we hop in the truck and talk about arrangements while he’s gone. I tell him about our one last option. We are on the way to the airport. Our turn to the “terminal” is coming up. He asks if we should keep going and try Medishare. I pray. He keeps going. We arrive outside medishare and I watch G enter the gate. After a short time I see smiles and laughter. Success! They have it! After he receives a painful poke we’re on our way back to the campus. The gates open to amused faces confused why G didn’t leave. I eat dinner. Enjoy the windy night and sleep like a baby thankful that our God is the God who provides.

(Some of you might be asking why I use abbreviations. When the kids are older, they will have a life and likely a facebook account of their own. I like to offer them privacy and anonymity whenever possible!)

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