I love when people ask me questions like "what made you decide to move to Haiti?" I could give you a long answer. But the real one is simple. Ifoceur.
When I first visited Haiti, I worked closely with this sick kid named Ifoceur. He's a kid that has a smile that makes you melt, gives the world's best hugs, and is a leader (for the good and the bad sometimes). Long story short, he ended up testing positive and going through TB (tuberculosis) treatment here in Gonaives. Fast forward to this year.
In April, Ifoceur started being "sickly" again- fevers, cough, ect. It made me nervous- so nervous that we sent him to the joint Cuban/Haitian run hospital in town. He came back with a prescription for some antibiotics. They didn't help.
About 2 weeks later, he started having bloody noses. Like crazy long-lasting bloody noses. And he clearly had lost weight. So off we sent him for another TB thinking surely, it can't be.
They started him on meds after only one sputum test.
We withdrew him from school and started daily visits, but very quickly I realized, he is on the same medication as before. What are the chances he doesn't have a resistant form of TB?
After a few emails with people smarter than me, I knew we had to try something. While Gonaives is the third largest city in Haiti, we lack things like good laboratories, doctors working in infectious diseases, and consistency.
A little back story- this sweet family had 3 children. When I first moved to Gonaives in January, 2012, Ifoceur had started TB treatment. About a year later they lost their youngest to TB meningitis. After he passed, both parents were treated. The loss of Lifetson, their youngest, continues to feel like a failure for me. Like we lost. It is grief that his parents, specifically his Dad, continue to bear. As I began this journey (again) with Ifoceur, I had this drive- we lost once, we weren't going to lose again.
The only place I knew of that did MDR-TB treatment in Haiti was with Partner in Health- Cange. This is about 5 hours from Gonaives and very difficult to get to. But after a few phone calls and emails, we heard about a place in Port called Gheskio.
We talk a lot here about how Haiti is moving from third to second world medicine. And I got my first view of what that looks like. This place was orderly, clean, and easy to navigate. I met with a female pediatrician with Ifoceur who, after a little back story, did exactly what we had hoped to get done. A sputum test with sensitivity. She was fantastic!
On the visit to get his results, she told us that, while he did have a form of resistant TB it, as she put it, "wasn't too bad."
This strong, handsome boy and I walked to get a chest xray before returning to talk with her. As we sat and waited, we played a game and he talked about how much he misses going to school. He laughed, skipped and joked with me. When we returned to her office, she showed me a chest xray that blew my mind. It looked like he had maybe 1/4 of function in his right lung, 1/2 in his right. How he laughs, plays, and just lives everyday with that much infection blows my mind. The pediatrician assured me that after he began him new medications & shots (ouch!) his chest xray would improve drastically.
Sometimes I feel as though things here are so symptomatic that they are confusing- the dramatic lady with acid reflux, the young man who turned his ankle, ect. But every once in awhile I get the opportunity to have a patient with insane, God-sized amounts of strength. Ifoceur is one of those people.
We are one month into treatment and going strong. And the bonus for me these days is that I get time with Ifoceur every single day.
"If God really does exist, then that must have implications for the whole of life."
Call the Midwife: Farewell to the East End, by Jennifer Worth
Chris & I are headed Stateside for a few weeks in July. We are trying to re-stock some much needed items for Klinik Jubilee. If you are interested in contributing, please check out our Amazon Wish list. Our list is simple, but these things go a long way!