I apologize ahead of time. It's my last day here and it was great, so it's a little longer than usual.
It started with a gentleman coming in for a chief complaint of headache. I won't lie, he smelled pretty bad. He smelled like he had been working in the fields with manure on a wet day. I tried not to be impolite and proceeded with working him up for the headache. My interpreter asked him if he was brushing his teeth and then leaned in to see if the smell was his breath. It wasn't. He them asked the patient if he had any recent cuts or sores. He did. He lifted his pant leg and the room filled with an odor I cannot describe. I have a picture below of the wound. He fractured his leg five years ago and had surgery to repair it, then never followed up. The wound took a while to clean, bandage, get a taxi (motorcycle) and I sent him to the hospital.
Shortly after, a woman came in with her child. He had a cold and would be okay. She said she also wanted to be seen. Over the past few years she had developed pain in her right breast, now it was firm and painful and she was losing weight. I did a breast exam hoping for the best, but ended up sending her to be examined by a specialist. There isn't breast cancer screening here, so I couldn't even use the word mammogram as no one knew what that is. I just told her she needed an X-ray and I was concerned about the possibility of cancer. As I looked at the 5yo boy beside her, I silently prayed I was wrong.
The next interesting case was a young man who had a motorcycle accident in the past few weeks resulting in an open fracture of his foot. He went to the hospital but didn't get the follow-up care that was recommended and now couldn't walk on his injured foot. I told him I could only treat the pain but he needed a specialist ASAP to see if there was any hope of repair, otherwise he likely have a permanent disability. He is only 19yo.
I also had a 24yo man who had fallen in a field with a puncture wound to his chest from a piece of wood. The wound was now closed and healed over but he was having severe stomach pain, unable to lay down and it hurt to breathe. I could barely put a stethoscope on his rigid abdomen. He was in so much pain. I also sent him by moto taxi to the hospital.
I also had some great cases that showed me that we can make a difference in a short period of time during a medical mission. The woman with crazy high blood pressure came in for follow-up and was ecstatic with her newly thinned ankles and hands. She said she pees a lot but feels so much better overall. Her blood pressure is now 140/102, a big difference. And a little boy who I believe had pneumonia last week followed up and was not the limp, lethargic boy I met. He had recovered quite well and there were smiles all around the room as I told them his lungs had improved.
When I got home I got to spend time with a lovely American group staying also with Edelin (arrived last night). They are working with CFI to help educate over 800 students and maintain the orphanage I visited earlier in the week. They are extremely dedicated to helping the children of this region in addition to projects in Jacmel, Haiti on the coast.
Finally, over the past two weeks I had been searching for a boy with cerebral palsy who had been to the clinic when the last Peacework Medical team was here and needed a walker. One of my patients generously donated a walker to bring with me to Haiti. Today I found the boy and was able to deliver it. Seeing him use it for the first time was truly a miracle to see.
Tomorrow I will say goodbye to this town and all of the people who have transformed me, healed me, and allowed me to smile and laugh effortlessly. I know we go on mission trips to give, but I can't ever give them what's been given to me. I can't give them the peace and stillness, the newness that I am leaving with. I want to thank all of you who have followed along, offered words of encouragement, and given your own time to be part of this journey.