Thursday, April 22, 2010

Burn Out...

Now don't worry about me...I'm not there yet, but burn out is just a topic that has kind of hit me in the last week or so, and I've been thinking about it a bit, and since I was trying to think of a blog topic, I think that's gonna be it.

So, here we go. What got me thinking about this topic was the fact that we have been super busy these last few weeks, and so I’ve been feeling particularly tired and somewhere between busy and overwhelmed. Usually at the Mission of Hope we have a couple of teams each week, some medical, some not medical, some young, some not so young...but in general, just a couple teams with a couple, maybe 20 people. It's busy enough, but not too crazy. Well, this week is a little bit crazy! For the next 2 days we have about 130 people staying at the guesthouse here at MOH, and over 2 weeks we have an average of about 100 people. Don't ask me how we found rooms for them all! But, it has been a lot of work to even just find work for the teams to do, both medical and non-medical. Then, to find the support staff (enough translators, because what good is an American doc here without a translator? seriously...), and enough shovels and gas to keep the construction teams busy. It's definitely a job! So...with all of this going on, sleep has been minimal with getting up early to prep people for mobile clinics, and up late packing for mobile clinics, or answering any last minute questions, or just catching up with friends...which is nice to do once in a while!

With all of this going on in the last week, I've found myself thinking a lot about the reality of getting burned out when staying long term in the mission field. I had a couple of thoughts about this before actually coming to stay in Haiti for awhile...and now that I look back, they may have been a little silly. First of all...I thought burn out just shouldn't happen. I mean, if you're doing what God calls you to, how could you burn out? You should be full of joy and loving what you're doing every day of the week...right? Ya, that's not always the case though I'm finding. I'm stilling living life, just plain old, simple, everyday life, only in a different place with different people, and different issues to deal with. It's still life. Also, I had this plan right after I was done school. My super fantastic plan was that I would go away to bible school for 1 or 2 years, get everything figured out, nailed down, get close and deep with Jesus and be set...then I would go into missions wherever I was called to and be one of the few that wouldn't burn out, I would be one of those people that had somehow "figured it out." Silly.

So, now here I am. Tried to get into bible school for oh, 2 years, and it just didn't happen...don't know why. But, God knew...and I think it just took that much time for me to give up and say, ok, what do You want? And now, here I am. I guess its what He wanted! I’ve said all of that to lead up to this point...I've just kind of been thinking these last couple days that burn out happens. We are human. We're weak people that need Jesus. I've had to remind myself over and over again that this trip isn't just me being humanitarian, its more than that. Its bigger than that. I remember some preacher man talking about there being nothing wrong with us admitting that we need God...that's humility, and that's just realizing the truth really. So I'm learning to embrace this...just learning though! I'm recognizing that I may burn out, I'll probably get tired (wait, I already am!), I might not love what I'm doing every day that I'm here, but its ok, its normal. I'm human.

I don’t want it to sound like I’ve just given up and have resolved that its a fact that I will at some point burn out. That’s not it. What I’m trying to take from all of this is that I will experience the same emotions as always...frustration, tiredness, joy, love, and everything else in between, but I need to recognize that through it all, I need Jesus. I need Him for strength, for life, and for just getting through a day sometimes. I need that quiet time with Him to just be still and remember who I am to Him. Just one quick verse – Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!”

So those are my thoughts for this week. Hope you like them, or at least they make you think! As you can tell I'm sure, I am getting a little tired...but I'm just embracing the little things each day that I love. I'm also loving that I'm starting to pick up the language a little bit more...apparently the other night I was talking in Creole in my sleep. You have no idea how excited I was when my roommates told me that one!! Seriously!

One more story...sorry!!! This morning I was up at 5:30am and took one of our patients to the US embassy to get a medical visa, and we got it!!! I was a little nervous going in there as the medical professional that needed to stand up for her case and argue why she needed to go to the states for surgery. But, when we got there we pretty much handed in the papers and then went to the next counter and they said...this visa is good for 6 months. The end. Fantastic! So, that's me right now. Pretty happy. Now I need to go eat some good Haitian rice and beans. Night!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Just Another Crazy Week!

Hey everyone!! I'm writing again! (finally!). I realise my blogs are WAY too long, but once I get going it just doesn't stop. Blame my brother!

So, this past week was a crazy week! I forget what I mentioned in my last post, but last weekend was spent in preparation for everything that was starting up this week. On Monday the whole place turned right around...we started up ortho surgeries again, opened the prosthetics lab (first time!!!), and the school started up again. It was VERY busy for me and Dr. Cheryl, but so rewarding to see at the end of the day, or maybe the end of the week was the first time I actually got to stop and look back at it all! All last weekend was spent moving supplies, setting up the new patient dome, getting people orientated and setting up the prosthetics lab. It was so hectic, but it all pulled together just in time. It's kind of amusing how often things just seem to work out at the last minute's a God thing I think!

So, Monday morning, the craziness began! We did not stop until 4pm. Usually I'll be busy until just after lunch, then I can sneak away for a bit in the afternoon before the clinic closes down...but not this week! They had me and Cheryl RUNNING! It was all good though! Things went so well this week! We did I don't know how many surgeries, had tons of patients coming through for ortho consult and wound care. In the middle of the week we realised that we had way too many ortho patients that needed surgery, so we've tweaked our plans a little bit, so now we're going to plan to do ortho/plastic surgery for the first 2 weeks of every month, then we'll have one week of recovery in the patient ward where we follow up with the post-ops and discharge them home to have one week of down time before we start up the OR again. And around and around we go!

The prosthetics lab was so exciting to me this week. I'm kind of bummed that I didn't get to spend more time in there. We had our very first patient fitted for a prosthetic leg, and she was walking on it by the end of the week! Her name is Melene, and I remember her from my very first few weeks here in February. She was a below knee amp from our hospital, and it was so good to see her all healed up, and walking again. Seeing her up and walking though, I realised that it's going to take a long time for her to accept this new prosthetic, and she really didn't seem to be enjoying it very much when walking, but in time it'll come, I hope. Its a huge change in her life! I asked her if she could dance with her new leg, and she kind of did a little jig, but it looked like she was close to tears doing I stopped. Jesus be with her!

What else this week...oh. We had two patients come through that were very close to our staff here at MOH. One lady was in a motorcycle accident on her way into work at the mission. She fractured her femur and one arm, but seriously, she was so lucky that it happened when and where it did! This just happened to be the week that we had ortho surgeons here, and OR staff. was the time to have it happen. So she had surgery that day, in our OR. She is recovering really well too! Tonight when I visited the ward she was smiling, had her hair done and was telling us how she got up in her chair today. It's good! The other patient we just called "broken man." At the beginning of the week my friend was telling me about her family member that was in the hospital in PAP, and our medical team was talking about "broken man" that was coming to be fixed in our OR. I think it wasn't till Tuesday that I put the two together. So, broken man came to us, bilateral femur fractures, bilateral wrist fractures, left tib/fib...basically he was broken everywhere and probably shouldn't have made it. But, he came to us and had 3 surgeries in our OR, and now he's here with us still. He's definitely ICU worthy, but he's here in our open HOOP barn tent thing, with two nurses tending to him and 7 other patients each shift. Its amazing what you do when that's all you can do. So, if you think of it, please pray for broken man!

What else can I ramble about? Oh yes. One last thing from the week. Yesterday a bunch of us went to Cabaret for lunch and then just to wander in the market place. While there me and Diana took the group on a slight detour to the Grace House to check up on some peeps. The Grace House is a homeless shelter in Cabaret, and last January when I came there was a little kid, Dalex, that was pretty sick with malaria and who knows what else. In the two weeks last year we saw a huge change in the kid, with him starting to sit up, making baby sounds and holding up his head when at the beginning of the week he had been listless and unable to breastfeed because it took too much energy. In August when I was here with our youth group I had a chance to peak in on him too, but he had digressed again, and was unable to sit up or hold his head up. I think he was about a year old at that point. So now, this time I just really wanted to see how he was doing...but he wasn't there. From what the other people in the Grace House knew, some white people had picked him up and taken him to a hospital in Cazal, another city/village about half an hour from Cabaret, but they didn't know if he was still alive or what. search may or may not continue. We'll see. But it was so good just to see the Grace House again, to smile and talk with the kids and the others living in such dismal living conditions. They continue to get food through the nutrition program here at MOH, but we're just kind of trying to be open and available to help out in any other way possible in these places that are in great need.

So that's life in a nutshell for this week. Sorry for the length once again, but a lot happens in a week! Miss you all!!!!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Oh to be Haitian!!!

Hey everyone! I really hope to make this a little more of a regular thing so that my notes aren't quite so long, but with a mix of my busy schedule and my habits of procrastination, it just might not happen! But we'll see.

So, I have definitely lived this week to the fullest I would say. It has been jammed packed, but full of good stuff! So, this week was a little more "quiet" than most. We didn't have any surgeries, and the staff that came ran the clinic all week long, and I actually didn't have to step in as a nurse to cover an open space...which was wonderful! Instead, I did my job, went to the staff meetings on time, left the clinic by 2 or 3pm each day, checked my email semi-regularly, and got to eat supper at a normal time. It's amazing how the small things make all the difference! So, with this week being a little more "quiet" I decided to try to get out as much as possible, and it worked! So, this note is just going to be me telling about me experiencing and falling in love with Haiti a little bit more:)

Last Saturday, well I guess I can't really complain, but I think it might come across that way! So, my plan for the day on Saturday was to have a down day and go to Cabaret to go to the market. However, as part of my job, I ended up going to the beach with one of the teams that was staying at the Mission of Hope. It ended up being a great day, but on my way home I noticed my lovely roommate (I really do love her!!!!) Leeann walking on the side of the road, coming home from the local village. Right away I called her and heard about all of her adventures from that day that I had missed, visiting some friend's houses, cutting down palm tree branches, riding in a tap-tap, etc. (Just so you all know, the two things I was most excited about when I moved to Haiti was 1 - getting a Haitian cell phone, and 2 - riding in a tap-tap). So, I was so bummed that I had missed out. But, the next day after church we all planned to tap-tap it in to Cabaret for lunch...and never in my life have I been so happy (I may be exaggerating, but only slightly!). There's a pic to prove it too! So, Sunday was wonderful! Haitian church, tap-tap, lunch of goat at Yolty's, hanging out at my friend's house, it was just perfect. Minus the fact that all three of us white girls hit our heads while getting out of the tap-tap...that was semi-embarrassing, but I'm kind of used to it by now!

The week proceeded pretty normally, a couple of crazy emergency cases came to the clinic, like a man that probably ended up having his leg amputated since it was only hanging on by some skin on the back (sorry...was that too much information?!?!). When Thursday came around I was so glad to find out that for Easter everything closes at noon on the Thursday and then no one works Friday - Hallelujah!!! However, that rule didn't apply to us North American staff for some I ended up leading our medical team in some hard-core manual labour. It was wonderful...ahem. This Monday we are starting something big with orthopedic surgery again, a new prosthetic's lab, a new hospital ward in a building that isn't quite complete, and on top of all of this, school is starting up here, so all of the medical supplies that we had stored in some of the classrooms had to be moved...somewhere. So that was our job Thursday and Friday, and it took us the whole time, and we still weren't finished! I have not worked that hard in a long time, but it was so good, and I felt good seeing what was accomplished, and then best of all, I slept so good! I crashed hard, so hard that apparently I was talking in my sleep all night!

Friday, since the work we did was so intense, we finished our last load around 3pm and I got the opportunity to visit a friend in Source Matelas, one of the local villages. Billy and Nathalie are the cutest married couple EVER, and Nathalie had made some rice and fish (being Easter and all), and had invited me to go and eat at about 10am...but I didn't make it until 4pm. I guess that's Haitian time?!?! So, me and Leeann tap-tapped it (yes, again!!) to her house, had a lovely meal, then walked to see her new house that Billy is building, and then went to visit Billy's parents as well. It's funny how much I enjoy just daily life things right now. I guess it's because it's all new to me, but even just walking down the road in the late afternoon, singing songs, joking, eating ice cream, its just so fun and relaxing. That's what friends do...simple things in life. Simple. Oh, and just to top the night off, we had some ice cream at GPP (the local restaurant) and then rode home on motorcycles...yes. That's what I said! You can ride a tap-tap, or they have guys that will take you on bikes - a little more expensive yes, but so worth it!!! Sigh...

Finally, I come to today. I worked in the morning trying to get some more medical supplies organized, ran around the mission a couple times, and then got to take off, yet again! We (Leeann and I with a couple of friends of ours from the mission and from the big city - Port-au-Prince) spent the afternoon at the Cabaret market, bought some mangoes, a Haitian broom, tried on sunglasses (no luck!), and a bunch of other stuff. We ate goat again...took our friends on a tap-tap for their first time (YAY!) and then ran into a very weird dancing group in the town centre. I'm not sure if it was a voodoo thing or not, but apparently they do this dancing kind of thing where they call down spirits, so at first when we didn't know what was happening we were all excited and watching intently. Then it got a little weird! They had all these instruments, drums, whistles, shakers, horns, and probably some other stuff, then a couple of guys had these whips made out of ropes, and they kind of danced/chased each other around. Then one guy ran up to us and put his hand out asking for money (all the white people) but when we didn't he left, but everyone started laughing. So, of course he did it again, and then the whole dancing team was right in front of us...and it was weird. The guys would like whip each other's feet and not flinch, and one of the interpreters said something about them calling down that's when we were like, alright, lets go. So...interesting experiences!

On the way home Leeann and I got out early and visited some friends of ours that are interpreters at the mission, and hung out at their place for a mango party! I ended up unintentionally leading a mini VBS with 3 little girls that followed us into their yard. I would start a song with the minimal Creole words of a song that I could remember, then they would keep it going and teach me the rest of the words. It was hilarious! I had so much fun! Then we came home, and here I am now. I have had quite the week, and have absolutely LOVED being out in the villages and just living a semi-normal life with friends. I know I'm only seeing a tiny bit, but with each little taste I'm loving it more and more. Uh oh!