Tracking Ed Monroe as he travels to Haiti and other exotic(?) places

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Thursday-Friday July 24 25

Hello from Peoria again.
I thought I would finish the blog with some of the details of our last two days.

Early Thursday morning we awoke to a very pleasant surprise. Dan had prepared a breakfast of scrambled eggs with bacon bits and onions and it was very tasty. I told Dan that he needed to make one without the onions as Jamie had been passing all of her onions to my plate each time she found one. Regardless, I do not ever recall having scrambled eggs during any on my previous missions. I missed the hash browns but you can’t have everything. Ha!
We had planned to see patients on Thursday for one half day. Jamie’s burn patient returned and she was please with the patient’s progress and the care given the child by the child’s aunt. We did discover a medication error where a patient received Tylenol for Tegretol but manage to get that corrected before the patient left the clinic grounds. We also had an incident with the treatment of Esperidon, the clinic caretaker. Some of the older FOTCOH people know him as “Don” or “Asparagus” as he and his large family are a source of conversation on each team I have been a part of. Jamie became very angry and stormed into the pharmacy. I figured that would be a great time to let Gary handle the issue and he allowed Jamie to vent her anger at him. When she left, Gary took a short break and returned as if nothing had happened. Jamie came back a little later and apologized to Gary and all was well in Haiti once more. With all of the pressures, heat & humidity, living with several strangers, being away from home in a Third World country, I am always surprised that people seldom get angry or upset so a little venting is sometimes needed. We ended the clinic by treating 118 patients on Thursday, making the grand total of 2005 patients for the mission. I know it was hard on the crowd control people to close the gate for the last time.
Dan had a great lunch for us and Sue had a short team meeting. Then it was time for inventory and putting the clinic to bed. I had great helpers in the stockroom, the packaging room, and the dispensing area and the inventory went very well. Inventory of the pharmacy and medical supplies is required so we can restock for the next mission. Inventory is never fun but we try to make it as fun as we possibly can.In the pharmacy, I had saved a lot of stock bottles with tight seals and also hundreds of desiccants. We used these to package the bags of prepackaged medications that remained at the end of the clinic so there would be some protection from the heat and humidity. After the inventory and clean up was finished, several took off for 1 more swim at the beach, some began to pack up their gear for the trip home, and some just read quietly. I spent the time tabulating the pharmacy inventory and checking on some items where I questioned the counts or could not read the hand writing. It is not the most exciting of tasks and I know that I dozed off at least twice during that period of time. I have since audited my records and made the necessary corrections that my dozing caused.I did not sleep well the last few nights in Haiti. I must have been ready to get home.
Our final meal is always worth waiting for as the Haitian girls. Neva and Andreta prepare a sauce with lobster, onions, tomatoes and other herbs and it is really good eating. After dinner, we took the bags that would be our checked luggage down to the pharmacy waiting area where they would be taken by truck early Friday morning (4 AM) to the main airport in PAP. Most of the team ended the evening on the roof gazing at stars. Come to find out that Jan & Jon had written a book on stars and Chris was also quite expert at picking out stars and constellations. Being further south in Haiti than in Peoria, the Southern Cross was visible and many of the team had never seen the Southern Cross in the night sky. It was a great way to end our day.
All were up early on Friday. Dan fed us one last breakfast of oatmeal. We did the usual routine of getting to the Jacmel airport very early. I did not pay much attention to the time but it seemed that we were there for over 1 hour before the Tortug plane arrived. Diedudone was there to see us off, as I knew that he would be. An older gentleman arrived. Eric seemed to know him as did Dick and Barb. He presented Dick with a container of eggs. That was funny as Dick and Barb were coming with us on the trip to Peoria. Carol, Bruce and Dan were staying back to do the laundry and shut down the clinic. They will be returning to Peoria on Tuesday. So Dick gave the eggs to Dan. I could just visualize TSA or USA Customs discovering eggs in Dick’s carry on. That would be a scene.
Our plane arrived and we wrote our names and birth dates on the manifest. Our carry on’s had been searched by a Haitian policeman and he passed the wand over the fronts and backs of each passenger before we could board the plane. The plane ride over the mountain was very hot and smelly. All of us were sweating profusely and the smell of the aviation fuel was nauseating. When we landed in PAP, the pilot opened up the front windows and all were glad to feel the breeze. We disembarked the plane and passed through the small airport in a hurry only to walk to the back of the rutted and wet parking lot to our truck which had brought the luggage over the mountains. We climbed into the truck for our usual exciting ride to the main airport. The driver managed to brake without warning and we all slide into the person next to us and then into the bags. It was just another Haitian memory for our memory bank account.
PAP airport was the usual mob scene of pushing and shoving to get inside the airport. We started to get into a long line and when we finally reached the first check point, Sue collected our passports and we gathered at an area near the AA ticket counter while she checked all of us and our luggage in with AA. That process went smoothly as did our passage through Haitian immigration and security checkpoint. Then it was time for one last Prestige beer and the famous Haitian Hot dog. Some folks purchased rum in the 5 pack carrying case and this trip there was the 15 star (best) rum. I had purchased 3 star and 5 star rum in Jacmel and David, Jan and Gary helped me get it back to Peoria as prizes for our upcoming fund raiser, the annual FOTCOH golf outing. We had lots of time in the souvenir shops. Gary found what he was looking for. He collects pharmacy mortars & pestles from all over when he travels and they had one in the shops.We went down to the departure lounge when our plane arrived and passed through the third security checkpoint. This one was manned by AA and we had to remove the laptops from our carry on and also remove our shoes. We waited quite awhile before our plane was available for boarding and we did not leave PAP on time but rather at least 30 to 40 minutes late. We had a fairly short layover time in Miami facing us. There was a first on this trip as Dick and Barb managed to fly First Class from PAP to Miami and then on to Chicago. They enjoyed that privilege greatly. The flight was smooth and we landed right at the immigration area. On my last mission our gate was a very long walk to immigration. We breezed through immigration and arrived at baggage claim. We had to reclaim our bags, pass through customs and then pass our bags back to AA after they had cleared customs. It is here that the people who purchased rum at the PAP airport can put it in their checked bags. We were told to go to carousel # 8 and our flight was posted on that bulletin board. Sometime later, it was announced that our bags were at carousel # 2 so we had to fight our way past a lot of people to get to carousel # 2. Some of our bags had been off loaded so we had to wait until all the bags arrived to collect our things. Amanda took of to return to Seattle, Washington. The time for our departure to Chicago was approaching rapidly when we finally exited baggage claim only to find out we had to go t another terminal and even worse, near the end of the terminal for our next plane. Plus, we now had to pas though TSA security. We were spread out in the TSA area when a TSA agent called us over to the first class check in and rushed us through so we could make our plane. We still had to play OJ Simpson and run through the length of the D concourse to get on our Chicago flight. That run was hard on Dick, I am sure. Fortunately, AA was holding our flight and we all made it before they closed the doors. Our flight to Chicago was a bit bumpy due to some storms in Florida but we manage to arrive in Chicago early. Too early, it turned out as our gate was not open so we sat in the penalty box for a bit before taxing to our gate. Most of us stopped at Chili’s for a quick bite of food. Jon took a stroll all the way to Gate G 11 to see the 8:30 Plane to Peoria off. That caused us a worry as we thought he had gotten lost. Our gate was G 4 and we left Chicago nearly on time and had a quick flight to Peoria, a long wait for our bags, some quick good byes and a fast drive home.
In reflection, this was a really great team to be a part of. Everyone worked really hard, we all got along well, we had no major medical problems with team members, some discomfort from the heat and humidity, few mosquitoes & other varmints, and over all a memorable experience for all of us.
I want to thank you for reading this. I did enjoy all of your comments. I especially like the fact that I was able to link you to the pictures. I still hope to put captions on a few and also to post more when I get them from other team members. Lastly, I would appreciate any and all support you could give to FOTCOH so that we can continue to care for our Haitian brothers and sisters. You can get more information about the sponsorship program or donations at our website :
God bless you!

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