My first email I received this morning was from the State Department advising Americans not to go precisely where I was headed, Delmas 60. The neighborhood along with Petionville were planning demonstrations/protests. I asked Braden to stay in our host's home so I would know he was safe.
When we arrived in Delmas 60, the only sounds were from radios blaring news about the election. Eventually, noise from protestors echoed in the background while I was seeing the instability of the past few weeks presenting with each patient. There was a woman who came in for depression. The political tremors were triggering PTSD from losing three family members in the earthquake five years ago. The result was an emotional earthquake. She wasn't alone. Another woman with acute panic nearly fainted in the office as she recalled thinking someone was going to invade her home last night amidst rioting. Two patients were unbelievably thin with sunken cheeks as they had stopped eating due to stress. A young girl told me she didn't want to go home because she was scared of the unrest. A little boy was picking his skin open thinking his deceased mother was trying to hurt him. Today was not a day for seeing a lot of people, although we still treated 40 patients. We tried to console and heal in other ways. Teaching breathing and relaxation exercises may seem woefully inadequate but we had very little else to staunch the emotional wounds we were seeing.
As we were leaving, the roads were filling with people. At the top of one of the streets we could see a mob of people pushing one another forward. We had some roadblocks from other motorists trying to turn around in narrow rocky streets, but we made it back to the house with little difficulty. Later, we were all (Braden too) able to go the afternoon clinic without any problem.
In the U.S. we use the word "disease" for certain illnesses, but in Haiti the term must be changed to "dis-ease". They have more than their share of illnesses, but it's the dis-ease that is really harming so many right now. It is the memory of so much loss (loved ones in the earthquake, their voices and votes drowned by corruption...) that remains on days like today. I have nothing in my bag to treat this dis-ease. I can only watch as the memories consume them.