Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Witnessing Healing in Haiti

It's Good Friday, and not many patients came to clinic today. Jeannette, one of our physical therapists, spent most of the afternoon at L'Escale taking care of our "at home" patients.

Patient M, with a spinal cord injury and now paraplegic, was able to get around much more easily, thanks to a 2-wheel wheelchair which an Hôpital Albert Schweitzer’s (HAS) employee modified into a 3-wheel wheelchair. Jeannette mentioned to me that she and her family were so ecstatic, that they were overcome with tears as they watched patient M wheel herself around the yard. I watched an exhausted Patient M. struggle at first as she pedaled herself around in front of her residence; her exhaustion transformed to exhilaration as she became more adept and for the first time, realized that she wouldn't be completely dependent on her family. When her husband said to me, "Now she can go to the market," I realized how important patient M's mobility was. As this was also Jeannette's last day with Patient M., our sadness was intense and even more tears were shed as we all said our goodbyes.

Although we were sad to say goodbye, Patient M's new found mobility gave us all some satisfaction considering it provided a perfect example of Jeannette's two-weeks working at HAS. Patient M. has gone from not being able to role herself over in bed, to now being able to get into her wheelchair with very little assistance. With perseverance and determination, Patient M was able to accomplish a great deal in 2 weeks. Several times, the family would comment that Patient M. would never have received this kind of care if she'd not been at HAS. Our plan is now to discharge Patient M., mid-next week, so she and her family can return home.

Today was also discharge day for J.S., a 10-year-old boy with a below-the-knee, right prosthesis. He'll be returning to Port-au-Prince on Monday, while we await new prosthesis candidates to arrive at HAS J.S. was delighted when I told him that he'd be going home soon. He's really missed his playmate from L'Escale, who went home to Port-au-Prince after we discharged him last Tuesday. J.S. was so upset when his friend left HAS, that he refused to talk to me or look at me at all over the next few days. Now he smiles from ear to ear when he sees me ever since I gave him the final OK for he and his Mom to go home. Fueled by excitement, and with a little assistance, J.S. was able to maneuver himself up the first few branches of a tree, which proved to all of us that he was more than ready to go home.

J.S. has climbed a tree!

Thanks for reading-Project HOPE volunteer Joy Williams

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