Today I cried.
I am generally a pretty stoic person. I actually have been described as “Spock-like” because in the battle of emotions versus logic/facts in decision-making, logic/facts wins every time. It is not because I don’t feel things. I do. But when it comes to making decisions, I was raised to believe that feeling should be taken out of the equation. Weigh the facts. Dwell on what can be logically accomplished and push forward. That is how it is done.
…but today, I cried.
Our journey given to us in Haiti is filled with terrible heartbreak nearly daily as we work in healthcare and see some horrific situations. To share a part of the journey with you, a couple of weeks ago, a bad accident occurred about 200 yards from the road which enters the driveway to the hospital. Fifteen people were killed instantly as a small passenger-carrying truck went underneath a bus. Several of the victims were beheaded. Our ambulance transported 3 others from the accident to the hospital: one had severe injuries which led to her death soon after arrival, one was stabilized and transferred to another facility, and one had minor injuries as he jumped off the truck as it was crashing. The day after this accident, a 3 month-old baby who was awaiting a surgeon to come from the US to get a heart defect repaired didn’t survive the wait. Her dad works at our hospital and we had journeyed with the proud dad as he and his wife celebrated their new arrival. Once the defect was found and the baby was transferred to another larger facility in Port au Prince, they said they had a surgeon coming in a few months to fix the defect. Feeling that may be too long, a few phone calls made it possible for a pediatric cardiologist to visit in just three weeks to do the surgery. We were all thrilled. She passed away about 10 days prior to his arrival. These things broke my heart.
…but today I cried.
Situations continued to occur: telling a caregiver that her hydrocephalic child really must wait for the surgical team to come and there was not much we could do until then, and then hearing that the child passed within the hour; a continuous stream of motorcycle accidents with severe injuries; special needs kids with nowhere to receive help; malnourished kids who passed away in spite of everyone’s efforts; and yet another child who arrived unconscious while awaiting surgery in Port au Prince and we transported her. All of those situations tore my heart and made me sad.
…but today I cried.
Today started normally and really the events of the day were no better or worse than any other day. When I arrived at the hospital and looked in the ER, there lay a 64 year old lady, who had suffered a heart attack. She was struggling for breath and even with a strong flow of oxygen her levels were not great. She had been given the appropriate meds for her condition but she continued to struggle. We felt she needed to be transported and made the appropriate arrangements, got the O2 tank ready to go, and prepared to load her in the transport vehicle. At that point, the family decided that they really could not afford to pay at another hospital. We said we would waive all fees from us, and just get her there. The family stated that they would care for her at home and as she passed they would be there. After all, they said, she was elderly. The view of her being loading into the back of a pick up truck with sheets wrapped around her, as we unplugged her oxygen was not one I wanted to have. She struggled for breath, and fell semiconscious on her make-shift mat as they drove off. I stood with my staff as they drove off, praying for her and her family and shaking our heads at the choice. That was terrible, and made me heartbroken, but not tearful.
I walked into the inpatient area and talked to a first-time new mom, cradling her newborn who had entered this world eventfully with an emergency C-section the night before. Our OB had done a great job. The cute little guy was blessed to have such a loving parent cradling him. I walked away sensing her joy, went into my office.
Then, I cried.
I am not sure why that was the moment after all of the rest of the events that caused the tear ducts to produce. I don’t know why this moment was the one. Maybe the “circle of life” had been seen. Maybe there was a cumulative effect. Maybe I am getting soft in my old age. I don’t know, but,
Today, I cried.
It somehow felt cathartic and somehow after pulling myself together, I re-entered the healthcare playing field. After all, Jesus wept, so I guess it was ok. I went downstairs in time to see a little boy with a high fever having some (presumably) febrile convulsions. I watched the staff do the right things and readied myself for the next challenge. Maybe today was the day that for that one moment, feelings trumped logic. I am not sure of all of the details, or the “Why”s, and “How”s but God jumped in and gave me a little alone time and break. It may not happen again, or it may, all I know, is that ,
Today I cried.