The “One”

Regina Clark, Co-Leader, March 2015

As this was not my first trip, I had some preconceived notions of what type of medical maladies I would encounter among such severely underserved Haitians, especially the children.  Commonly, for each volunteer there always seems to be one case that stands out as “The ONE’ among the hundreds we see and treat. I wondered if it would happen to me. Of course, it did.

I didn’t expect it to happen on the very first day, within the very first few hours no less. As with most trips, we start at Open Door Clinic run by Pastor Wiljean.

Open Door Clinic

Open Door Clinic

The day began in the usual fashion. I eagerly greeted the many patients quietly waiting for us.

Patiently waiting to be seen at clinic

Patiently waiting to be seen at clinic

About 7-8 patients in, a young girl of 8 or 9 came in with her mom. As the exchange of information began, I wondered what her chief complaint was. Her mom lifted her right arm up and pointed to something needing no explanation! I inwardly sucked in my breath at what I saw before me.

On her right axillary gland there protruded the largest abscess I ever saw! My heart broke for her and her mom. Several thoughts raced through my mind. What will the doctor (Dr. Harry Moskowitz) do aside from giving antibiotics? Do we have strong enough pain reliever to get her through a very painful procedure that awaited her as I took instructions to prepare for what we were about to do?

Without missing a beat Dr. Moskowitz asked for the necessary items to carry out an I and D! (Incision/Drainage). After we got set up for it, we instructed through our translator that the mom was to hold down the left arm tightly and be ready for a tough procedure. First thing needed was to numb the area. Unfortunately it required three very painful injections. I was so very sorry we had to inflict terrible pain to lessen the worst pain yet to come.  It was a little difficult staying focused rather than to dwell on how bad it was and how much pain this poor little girl was made to endure.

Predictably, it was extremely painful and the child screamed over and over.  Gauze in hand, the doctor applied pressure, willing the pus to drain out. At one point he placed his index finger inside the bigger growth to facilitate as much drainage as possible. Pain, tears, fluids flowing, I did my best to both assist by holding/replacing gauze pads and comforting the girl and her mom.

Once we finished, we instructed the mom to bring her back to us the next day seeking visible improvement via the antibiotics we gave her. She did indeed bring her and there was noticeable improvement! The best news? She got operated on later in the week. Sadly, she also tested positive for TB. I pray/hope she will be okay!