So maybe you're wondering why I'm taking the day off. If you're not, then just go ahead and navigate away from this; but if you want to hear a semi-interesting story, read on:
At the helm at IMC, running the hospital as best he can since about 24 hours after the earthquake, is a man I knew (only from a distance) as Dr. Paul. He was part of our nightly briefing at the hotel, and seemed to have a lot of insight into the organization at University Hospital (such as it is).
I didn't get a chance to meet Dr. Paul until the day before yesterday, when I returned from the Bolosse clinic to find him sitting in a chair in the IMC quarters (called the ping-pong room, because of the ping-pong table we use each morning to organize supplies and draw up the day's injectible antibiotics. More pics of that at another time.)
Anyway, there was Dr. Paul looking peaked. Actually, to look "peaked" he would've had to look a lot better; he looked like he was going to keel over, "going to ground" as we might say in the ED. I helped him onto a mat on the floor, started an IV, and hydrated the heck out of him. He didn't pee until after about 7 liters of IV fluid, and I think he received a total of 9 liters before he felt well enough to pull the IV. Here's Paul:
Then, I come to find out that Dr. Paul is actually Paul S. Auerbach, author of "Medicine for the Outdoors." Kind of a rock star in Emergency Medicine. Here's his book. He's promised me a signed copy once he gets back home to California. Paul left yesterday with the Stanford contingent. I hope to find anything he publishes on his initial experiences here. He told me a good bit about the first three days, which sound like pure hell. My experience here is quite mellow, compared to what the first wave of medical people found. So, what does this all have to do with me and why I'm sitting in my hotel room blogging when I should be out working at the Bolosse clinic or at the hospital?
Well, I was feeling pretty smug. I've been drinking several liters of water every day, and even though I don't go to the bathroom all day (Fred will confirm that this is MOST unusual for me) I've been thinking I was well hydrated and healthy. Until yesterday.
I'd completed my responsibilities in Bolosse and returned to IMC quarters (the same ping-pong room where I'd cared for Dr. Paul the day before) when one of the ED docs asked me to come and help there; they were swamped (they are seeing over 250 patients a day, including new trauma from gunshot wounds). I slammed down a quick lunch (chicken salad in a can from Wal-Mart, half a bottle of water) and headed down the street to the ED tent. Within minutes of going inside, I started sweating profusely; everything got pretty dark, and the walls closed in. I thought it was a bout of claustrophobia; I apologized to the ED doc, and beat feet back to the ping-pong room. I was sitting on a disaster-relief box when another doc, Heather, found me a short time later. Before I knew it, I was on a mat on the floor... getting IV fluid... Zofran for nausea, D50 (dextrose) in my IV, and feeling like I was going to pass out. I never did faint, but boy did I feel awful. After over 4 liters of fluid IV, I finally peed and was able to drink water.
It was the general consensus that I should take today off, and frankly, they were right. I'm almost fully recovered today, but if I'd had to head back out into the Haiti sun again, I would be worse off than I was yesterday. So here I sit, in the air conditioning of my room, drinking water and blogging on Marie's computer. For this day, I am grateful. Yet I worry about the countless numbers in Haiti who have little shade and no water. Tomorrow, I go back to work.
In the "turnabout is fair play" department, here I am on the floor in a supply room at IMC quarters. The guy with me is Brian, a flight nurse from Colorado. He's the one you want to have start your IV if you're ever on the floor in a third-world country.