Writing after being laid low by some intestinal nastiness for the past 24 hours, I am now 50/50 for my Haiti experiences, twice no stomach stuff and now twice I have been afflicted.
Yesterday morning was my first day of mobile clinic. The welcome we received by the midwives and translators when we arrived at the house before setting off on our journey was stupendous. I thought that the girls at the orphanage were happy to see us, it was noting to compare with the welcome from these women and men with whom we have seen so much joy and heartache, truly spectacular. I kept thinking of Magdala in the video from last summer when she said that midwives are strong because we deal with life and death, there are some seriously strong women here and I love them for it. I kept finding myself grinning and dancing a little bit around the courtyard, so happy to be with everyone again, spying the midwives grinning at my antics.
The mobile clinic was at a site where we had gone last year but yesterday we saw 83 women in the span of 6 hours! It is a small 3-room cement clinic; we crossed 5 streams in the jeep to get there and then walked across another, hauling benches, tables and suitcases full of supplies. The women came from miles around to be seen. They waited in the shade of the few surrounding trees fanning themselves and chatting, a woman even came with food to sell. The mangy dogs, ribs showing through their ragged coats meandered about hoping for scraps of food. Gladius and I took blood pressures and weights for all the women while they waited for their belly checks inside the 1 crowded room. As we wove through the rows of benches we came upon a woman who appeared to be in labor, belly tightening and her face screwed up in pain, waiting her turn like all the rest. Another woman standing by a tree had a blood pressure of 200/120, even the translator Gladius knew that was bad, she was complaining of headaches and said that yes, she was seeing spots in front of her eyes. I’m not quite sure why she wasn’t brought back to the hospital with us when we left like the woman possibly in labor was, I was feeling to
o bad at that point to question the wisdom of just giving her blood pressure meds and then sending her home to a village undoubtedly far from the hospital and help if she were to suddenly start seizing.
At some point I started to get light headed and I thought I was just a bit dehydrated and tired from not having slept the night before, I curled up on the cool cement floor, next to a rooster who had been brought as payment and was bound by his scrawny legs to the base of the table, he squawked occasional just to make sure that I knew he was as unhappy about the situation as I was. Women also brought rice (which I used as a leg rest), and passion fruit both in trade and for the midwives to buy as the day got hotter and I felt worse and the line of women seemed to never end, I was glad that I was not solely responsible for all of this patient care. I borrowed a fan from the Midwives for Haiti house and took it over to the boys dorm where there is running water and electricity, those small luxuries where a tremendous help through the night. Today was a day of rest and recuperation. Tomorrow I head to the hospital for my first labor and delivery shift, it should be good, wish me luck.