Friday, May 27, 2011

M'pa konprann!

Phase 1: Getting to Port au Prince....

On our way to the airport, still fresh, clean and well rested!

So we started our trip with a four hour delay at O'Hare airport. We finally took off for Miami at 11:30 pm; arriving to Miami at 3:00 a.m. That left us about 2.5 hours of beauty rest on the floor of the airport.

miami airport: mo TRYING to catch some z's..

Lauren, conforming her body to the airport chairs, a travel pro

    Amanda, using her time wisely, reading her kindle

 Kara, ACTUALLY sleeping (what she does best)

Twong, not even attempting to sleep, studying for boards!

5:45a.m. board for Port au Prince!!
Obviously we all slept through this flight...
7:30 a.m. (or what feels like 7p.m. to us) ARRIVAL!!!!

After waiting in line at customs and picking up our bags (which miraculously all made it, intact), we left the airport and met up with Wilson and Fabian from Medical Teams International (MTI). We went straight from the airport to the University of Miami Medishare Hospital in Port au Prince to see a patient who had suffered a spinal cord injury 7 days ago. We got to see the ONLY ventilator-capable ICU in Haiti, which had 4 beds (and 4 vents). This patient we came to see had been in a car accident, and then was carried on foot to the hospital (which he arrived at 24 hours later), then was flown to the hospital in Port au Prince. His fracture (which is believed to be a jumped facet at C7), was not stabilized and he has since lost function; now only able to shrug his shoulders. 

After our hospital visit, we drove to the MTI team house in Port au Prince (which was incredible!). We spent the afternoon chatting with other volunteers, meeting the Port au Prince staff, eating some delicious food, and of course, napping. Then we all got to take one last, mosquito-free shower and slept in an airconditioned room, where we also caught some of the Bulls-Heat game. It was a lovely way to spoil ourselves before traveling to our next guesthouse (still nice, but not THIS nice...)

our quarters in Port-au Prince

The rooftop view from the guesthouse

Our new friend, Baron
Looking out over Port au Prince from the rooftop

Phase 2: Port au Prince to Les Cayes

We left Port au Prince by van at 9:30 a.m. for what we were told was a 4-5 hour drive (Haitian time). It took over 2 hours to get outside of Port au Prince due to the rush hour traffic jam that lasted all day. The pictures describe what we saw better than words can:

Rows and rows of beautiful artwork lining the streets
We saw a variety of housing situations, starting with the tents...
and shanties

To the concrete buildings. Slowly but surely, things are being rebuilt

The balancing act

A marketplace in Port au Prince
UN troops patrol the streets of the city

People selling yams, cabbage, and many different types of fruit
The traffic jam

The incredible scenery on the road to Les Cayes

Around 3:30 p.m. we arrived at Dokte June's house, which also serves as the MTI guesthouse in Simone, a "suburb" of Les Cayes.

Our feat of engineering-hanging 4 mosquito nets with one long piece of twine. 

Only after did we realize we could have just as easily tied them up separately!
Then we met with the orthotist, Ann, and the OT, Megha who have been working at the Advantage clinic for the past two weeks. They gave us a quick run-down of the patient list and filled us in on who we would be working with on Monday.  Then we had more delicious food and took a short walk to the hospital to deliver dinner to a patient. The hospital does not provide food or water for the patients, so they rely on their families to keep them fed, hydrated and clean. This patient, who we will work with throughout our time here, comes from a village far away from Cayes. He became ill with cholera, and survived the illness, however was left with neurologic deficits. He was originally diagnosed with Guillain Barre, however once he arrived at the Advantage clinic for rehab (he was originally being treated at the Medishare Port au Prince hospital) the therapists recognized that this was not a typical Guillain Barre presentation, and did a little research. It appears that he has Central pontine myelinolysis (also known as osmotic demyelination), which is caused by the rehydration process during cholera treatment. Good thing we have a fairly reliable internet connection so we could Google that one (I mean search PubMed for systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials...)! All in all, a great start to our trip. Now we're really looking forward to getting started in the clinic on Monday.

That's all for today; we will keep you all posted when we can! 


  1. What a great blog! I enjoyed reading it! Cant wait to hear back from people who also post their comments!!

  2. What an awesome adventure. Glad to see you are putting your skills to the test from the outset. Can't wait for updates.

  3. Houw completely awesome! Keep it coming!.
    (Love, Dad)

  4. Love it girls! So excited to see your pictures and wonderful stories... Enjoy your weekend and good luck Monday :) They are so lucky to have all of you wonderful ladies there helping! xoxo

  5. I'm super impressed with all of your sleeping skills! And really happy there's an OT at the clinic, maybe I'll come down to meet you! It looks like your trip is going great so far, keep posting more! And say hi to everyone there for me!

  6. Hi to Kara from your Birmingham relatives. Hope this will be a rewarding experience for all of you. Great reading your experiences in your blog and the beautiful pictures. It is great seeing what progress has been made in Haiti. Keep up the good work!

    Aunt Marian