I left my last visit with FOTCOH fearing the worst for a patient I had cared for a few years ago. In 2014 he came to the clinic in extremely poor condition, having lost a large amount of blood. Knowing blood transfusions are not a realistic option for the people of Haiti, I naturally feared the worst and continued to wonder about him long after returning to the states. Upon my arrival this week, I asked team members and translators about this man and no one could tell me his current condition with any confidence. As I finally began to accept the harsh reality that he had likely died, my day started with a wonderful surprise and I felt pure joy as I saw him walk into the clinic. I was overwhelmed with happiness!
As the day went on and I was greeted with smiles from other acutely and chronically ill patients, I enjoyed the humbling experience only known by others who have physically been here in the clinic. An experience I can’t even begin to put into words. Fortunately, we are all blessed with the many positive outcomes we assist in providing, butthe reality is not every patient can be saved; not here or in the US.
My ‘high’ came crashing down when I witnessed my burn patient from our first day of clinic quickly declining. As I walked up to her as she was being transported back to the clinic by truck, I felt that familiar fear return . . . and this time was confirmed. As horrible as it is to deliver the news of a poor outcome to family members, I was reminded by my fellow team members that we know we were able to offer comfort to this patient as she passes from our physical world.
This comfort not only came in the form of wound care and medicine to ease her pain, but in the love and passion we showed her, and that we have for each patient we see. Haitians don’t often have the opportunity to experience palliative care. We were so blessed to be able to make this inevitable life experience comfortable and beautiful, not only for her, but for the loved ones that surrounded her, including her FOTCOH family.