Friday, October 12, 2012

Tempered Happiness

St. Catherine's Hospital--Cite Soleil
Rehydration Room
October 12, 2012
(Photo by John Carroll)

The Haitian Public Health nurses (MSPP) working in this cramped tiny room tucked away on the second floor of St. Catherine's Hospital in Soleil save many little lives EACH day. With salt and sugar mixed in a bag of sterile water. And knowing where tiny collapsed veins course under the skin without being able to see or feel them they start tiny IVs.

This one year old was lying fairly lifeless with her eyes sunk and half closed two hours before this photo. She was one of a jillion babies and toddlers in Cite Soleil today with terrible vomiting and diarrhea. They finally get so weak they refuse the breast and they all seem to hate oral rehydration solution.

So with some history from the mother, the look of the child and the mother, the status of the child's lips and eyes, and your OWN gut reaction, you throw out all the clinical rules you once thought were important, and you start an IV on the patient.

And after just a little while they all wake up and look around.  And the blan doctors are all so happy, but the Haitian MSPP nurses take it all for granted. Because being this ill is taken for granted in Soleil.

And the prolonged assault by the army of sick babies never ends during the daylight. However, night time kills these babies in the arms of their mom in their shacks. The babes don't even whimper....they just slip away into the Light.

But you and I know they shouldn't have got sick in the first place. And so many more should have been treated today that didn't make it to the Rehydration Room.

In good Irish form our happy thoughts are tempered.

John A. Carroll, MD

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