There Isn’t One Word 

The most common question I’ve heard since our return is “how was it?”. I don’t have a stock answer and it turns out that other team members feel that way as well. There is no one word or short sentence that seems to encapsulate our experience.

  • Rewarding 
  • —–we made a difference for those patients that we came in contact with. We were friendly and  generous with quilts, kites, books, suckers and many other items. A select few on the team taught and I’m sure that was rewarding. I was disappointed not to share some of my OR knowledge with any staff there.

  • —–it was a really good team, and for the most part, we gelled really well. There are always a few exceptions to every situation and I’ll just stop there. 😏

 

  • Haphazard
  • —–the streets, the hospital, the OR’s, the supplies, the ….I wanted to OCD the whole entire OR suite.

 

  • Interesting
  • —-to see how a third world country functions or doesn’t. To see how an OR runs in a different country. To check out the local food and beer.

 

  • Exhausting 
  • —–as OR nurses we where busy for many hours of the day and really didn’t get out (similar to how we work at home — secluded — so it was super awesome when the ER/ICU nurses came to visit on the last day)

 

  • Heart breaking
  • —–it wasn’t just the orphanage it was the whole place. No running water or toilets in the surgical wards. The violence, the poverty, the garbage, the million dollar houses against the shanties, the beauty of the island lost in the political climate.

 

  • Puzzling 
  • —–how so little has happened since the devastating earthquake. Where did all the money go that was given by the international communities? Why is there such high levels of unemployment when it’s obvious that there is so much public works that need to happen? Why ………?? I had way more questions than answers.


I’ve also been asked one other  question and again I don’t have a standarda answer for this one. Would I go again? When I hesitate people think it means no and I don’t think it is a definite no. I think certain factors would have to be weighed individually before I could make that decision.

  • As the head of fundraising I gave a lot of time to the cause and there were a few issues which caused some frustrations on many levels.
  • The quilts, which I don’t regret at all, became quite time consuming. Quilting many items at a time with a deadline isn’t as much fun as just meandering away on one project at a time.
  • I had to bank 40 hours so that I could be paid for the week. I never have enough holidays and so didn’t want to use them.
  • My husband Ron couldn’t join the team because, as an engineer, he would be seen as a medical tourist. In reality he could have repaired doors, stretchers, values and an assortment of other items. So perhaps we might go do a Habitat for Humanity house or find another group that could accept his skills.
  • We were reminded that we aren’t there to change the OR culture or environment. Honestly I’m not convinced I could go again without giving the OR a thorough cleaning, totally reorganizing it and setting up standardization of equipment and supplies.

Which leads me to my lessons learnt.

  1. Take comfortable work shoes — your feet will thank you for it. I took my old ones and it wasn’t fun.
  2. Take breakfast foods as the team breakfast doesn’t arrive early enough for the OR team.
  3. Take a few suppers because as part of the OR you are going to miss meals.
  4. An extra set of OR greens would be handy.
  5. Give OR hats and Canadian pins early on to the local OR team in hopes of increasing their enthusiasm to our presence.

Bernie 

2 thoughts on “There Isn’t One Word 

  1. ldodd March 25, 2016 / 8:32 am

    You all did wonderful work for those patients you saw, and with the medical people who worked with you. It will take time to sort out more of your thoughts and feelings about the trip. The team will undoubtedly put all of the collective thoughts together in time. These mission trips are so important. You truly made a different to tge lives you touched. You are wonderful people to take on this work and are to be highly commended!

    Like

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