By PJ Pitts
Germain, one of the Haitian night nurses, is one of the hardest working people here. Two nights ago I was staffing overnight and noticed her limping. As the night wore on, her limp was getting worse, but she never complained. With one of the translators, I asked her to sit so I could see her leg.
Her left calf was noticeably larger and warmer than the right one, and painful (especially when Anne, one of the nurses, tried flexing her foot). I remembered Homan’s sign from school – not good that she had the signs and symptoms of a DVT. I gave her an aspirin, and went to look for the provider on call. It was about 2 a.m., and as luck would have it, the on-call doc had already been woken up for a transfer call. He examined her leg – luckily it was a strained and swollen muscle, not a DVT. We started her on 600mgs of ibuprofen three times a day, and decided she should try to stay off of it for the night.
She has such an amazing work ethic, and like many of the workers, is fearful of loosing her job. I insisted she sit, and found her some food to eat with the ibuprofen (as I suspect the meal we feed her may be her main source of food for the day). The night crew here is amazing, and everyone helped out to make sure all the patients were covered while she elevated and rested her leg.
In the morning, she handed me a piece of paper —- a hand written thank you note in English (clearly something that took her a while to write). I was so touched, I started to tear up, and was able to use my creole “word of the day” – meli-te (spelled phonetically, not correctly) meaning “you’re welcome”.
Back when I was in pharmacy school (and had received a thank you letter from a patient), I had a professor tell me that pharmacists almost never get thanked for what they do. Here I am thanked multiple times a day – it makes me feel blessed to be here, and I am grateful for the opportunity to make such a difference for these people.
In fact, as I’m typing this (in 4-point font on my blackberry), Fedneyer, the Haitian x-ray tech, just came up and told me “I feel better when you are here.”
I smiled, and told him I feel better when I’m here too.
***PJ Pitts is a pharmacist in Oregon and is volunteering for her second deployment at Project Medishare’s field hospital. She is sending her blog posts in via her Blackberry. Click here to see her other contributions to the Project Medishare Blog.