Google+ WTN Haiti Partnership: Amanda's Tremendous Haiti Experience, pt. 1

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Amanda's Tremendous Haiti Experience, pt. 1

Editor's Note: We have received a journal-like collection of emails from Amanda, who traveled to Haiti at the end of January, now more than two months ago! I can hardly believe it's been that long, and I can only imagine how that time feels to the people in Haiti.  Amanda is a young nurse from the Baptist College of Nursing in Memphis.  We are presenting here messages as received, in journal format, except in a few cases where typing errors were corrected for the sake of clear meaning. We will be posting the messages in three parts. Part 1 is sent with time and date stamps, either from her email client or BlackBerry. Part 2 and 3 are single, longer messages.  Although these messages are from two months, ago, I know that they communicate a lot about the situation on the ground in the aftermath of the earthquake. They also speak about the overwhelming feeling of attempting to make an impact in that place and the feeling of being changed more yourself. Please read and enjoy Amanda's letters and leave your own thoughts as comments. We will attempt to pass on any comments on these posts to Amanda in Memphis. We applaud her for her work in Haiti and are proud to present her memories here.
Stephen Nelson

Sat, 30 Jan 2010 20:50:50

I'm with the drivers  and we are the way to meet the rest of the people... Safe. 

Hot Hot Hot... But safe.. I went from 19 to 95 degrees in just a few hours! 

It was so crazy being on a a huge flight where every single person on it was going down to do relief work... Such a cool feeling. I still haven't slept at all... Of course you know me, I was chatting with all of the passengers on the flight and making new friends!! 

We are getting food together and packng up tonight to head over early tomorrow morning for our 14ish hour drive into Haiti. I will be in touch later. 

January 31, 2010 12:33 PM
We have just made it through the border between Dominican Republic and Haiti. Passports stamped, bus and supplies approved. Discussions of shifts and work to be done have been in place. We are still finding out about the hospital and such. They are going to be needing us for all shifts. So who knows when I will be working... I'm the youngest of the team so I'm guessing that I will probably get nights?  For now, the roads are bearable and cell phone service is available.  We are already seeing tents all over the place. A lot of people here have shelter but they are afraid to go back into their homes for fear of more aftershocks... Apparently, they are still feeling them daily. 

There are military helicopters all over the skies that appear to be bringing in supplies and such... 

More to come, 
January 31, 2010 10:01 PM
So we made it here in supposedly record time!! As soon as we got here, they called and needed nurses for the night at the hospital.. Me and 3 other ladies left immediately going in knowing that it will be a 24-36 hour shift!! They have been working 36 on and then 12 off... So I'm here in the icu for the night. The patients are all so critical... Lots and lots of crushed bodies and limbs. All for now. More later. Its almost like I'm a doctor... We are just giving the meds that we can to control their pain and making due with what we have.. I've already had two patients die and I've been here for only a couple of hours.. Its an absolute madhouse... 

All around, there are military helicopters delivering supplies and US and UN soldiers.

There is a definite nursing shortage!!! More importantly a definite warm and willing body shortage...

The buildings are all crumpled down-- I didn't imagine the amount of devastation. I mean I planned on it in my head but just really couldn't prepare myself. There are tent cities all over this city. They almost look like concentration camps from the movies with tent after tent lines up and all running into the next.  I have not seen any violence since we have been here... The compound that we are staying at belongs to global missions and we are sharing it with some American soldiers and Sameritan's Purse! They have moved in and taken over-- its amazing the great things that you can do when you have money... Their equipment is impeccable! 

I need to go check on the patients... 

More later! 

February 2, 2010 1:54 AM
So I'm still at the hospital... Heading up towards hour 36 of work... I've been awake for 68 hours straight... Wow. Heading home tonight shortly for some sleep and then back tomorrow!! 

Amazing day! 

Miss yall, 
February 2, 2010 12:01 PM
So we are now headed to the hospital again... We had a huge delay!!! But it was a nice naptime for me... I got a whole extra hour in!  Just wanted to mention a few things:  We are staying out in the country a little north of port-au-prince.  On the road on the way to the house, we pass by several mass graves. They are all covered over now, but you can sure smell it... Smells even at where we are staying. This morning they started burning bodies- 8 at a time.  I want to clarify that some may believe that this is in-humane but at this point in time it is a matter of survival and keeping others safe around.  The blunt of the devastation has passed but many are still dying and bodies are being uncovered. There are still many aftershocks... We felt one yesterday.   

There are piles of rubble all over the place...   

The people are so sweet. They are grateful.   

US military is all over, unicef, united nations, actually haven't seen a ton of red cross though.  Need to get off of the phone so that I can take pictures... Please excuse any typose... On the phone on a bumpy bus ride.   

February 2, 2010 5:38 PM
We drive pass the US embassy to and from the hospital. It is very nice but also very heavily protected by soldiers.  The line of Haitians packing into this place daily is unnerving.  Lots and lots of people waiting in line to get in.   

I'm trying to take lots of pictures but each time my eye is moved to another spot, it is a photo opportunity. I simply can't capture anything to relay the state of this county. I wish that my brain was a video camera.  

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
February 3, 2010 7:29 PM
Hello family and friends,

Haiti sends her love.. She is beautiful and hopeful and healing.

Today was a good day at the hospital. Lost some and gained even more! There were 7 beautiful births today at the hospital.  It is so refreshing to see new life amongst such devastation and destruction.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that I delivered a baby today... The baby delivered itself while I surprisingly witnessed its entrance into the world... And yelled even louder for the only American OB/GYN in the hospital who was in surgery.

I've worked a good bit in the hospital ICU which has been exciting yet eventful. The people are sick sick sick and there is NO technology. No iv pumps, no ventilators, no monitors. I'm learning just how dumb I am...

I have been working mostly in the emergency area. We are still seeing so many injuries from the original quake.. People are just waiting to come in or it is taking them a while to get out of ground zero out to get help.  Fractures, dislocations, more fractures, infected wounds, rotting limbs, you name it.. Its coming in by the handfuls all day long. One thing for sure is that my dressing changing skills are going to be jam up when I get home... I've also gotten pretty decent at looking at my patients x-rays while waiting on the orthopods to leave surgery and come see what I've got going..  I've also developed a new IV skill of chasing extremely dehydrated veins. For those of you who know what this means, I had a pt yesterday who had a hemoglobin of 3.3 and a hct of 10.. Yes. She actually walked into the clinic... Wow! These people are so strong...

Emotional, sad moment of the day: a man brought a baby in today and handed the child to me in the ED. I honestly thought that the baby was dead.  She was the smallest little premie... Then I saw her take a breath.. I ran back to the laboring room/ nicu area with this precious child. She was a baby whose mother died in the earthquake which means that this baby was weeks old instead of simply days or hours as I had thought. After we got back, we realized that she had a heartbeat and was breathing.. Another nurse started an IV but it didn't look good. Next thing that I know, a Haitian nurse is singing Hosana Hosana Hosana in the highest... Things come to a halt in the room. We all started singing together- even some harmony going on.. Next thing I know we are singing and a man prayed over this baby. At this point, there wasn't much to do besides pray. We sang and prayed and without a dry eye in the room the baby passed away so peacefully. The baby's mother was a Christian!! They are now both together in God's house. This might be one of the most powerful moments that I've experienced.  I don't mean to be depressing, but it was a peaceful, beautiful and impactful death that I wanted to share with ya'll. 

On a different note, I got a lesson from a optomologist today and got to look at some cool eyeballs that had been injured by falling objects...

Probably my favorite thing about this entire experience is the global feel. There are medical teams at my hospital from Italy, Korea, Sweden, etc... I am always meeting new people.. However, I did realize quickly that just because they are white, doesn't mean that they speak English!! Swedish people are the trickiest of all-- (in scrubs, you can't see the fashtion differences between the cultures)  For example, I was in the pharmacy today looking for some meds that I needed and I saw the drug metoprolol (a common blood pressure medicine) I found metoprolol in probably 10 different written languages... It was amazing to see how countries all over the world had donated so much-- people with such different backgrounds are all coming together for a common cause-- maybe the coolest feeling ever. I feel so privileged and honored to be here. It is such a huge humbling and learning experience. Thank you all for your prayers and support!!!

Tomorrow morning starts the start of my next 36 hour shift... Pray!! I did it once before, but I was fresh then... I'm starting to get tired, worn out. Ill go in early tomorrow (Thursday) morning and be there through Friday night straight through... No sleep.. Its busy, hot, tiring, and stressful. But it's so much fun at the exact same time!! I'm pumped and super excited about it!!

Ok-- more updates later and I apologize about the length of this email!! Hope that all is well in Georgia and Memphis... I hear that Duke is doing well and making good friends at the doggie resort so he is well taken care of!!

Love ya'll and see you soon!!   
To be continued.
Amanda is from the Baptist College of Nursing in Memphis 

*Hibiscus is the national flower of Haiti; 
photo used under FREE USE License from

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