by Lamp Medical Director Barrere Hyppolite, MD
This is the story about a one year old boy named Dieujackson Bernard. His mother, Antonine, a struggling single mother to 6 children, brought him to the clinic because he was so severely sick. From the moment I saw her I was a little bit horrified to see this child like this and I told her, “Miss, have you never been to a hospital? Have you never given him oral rehydration salts?” Her answer was filled with sadness and guilt that she could not do more. Dieujackson was suffering from a severe case of dehydration caused by acute gastroenteritis (a bacterial infection of the intestines).
Normally, I refer this patient to a hospital for rehydration through intravenous lines. When I told her this she literally melted in tears saying, “Doctor, I can’t go because financially I can’t. I have 6 children without a father.” I felt stunned, sad, and angry because this mother was having to watch her child dying slowly in her arms. This is a situation that can be the daily struggle of some Haitian mothers. I was angry because I felt I was in front of a situation of despair. I nearly cried – it is unacceptable! So I reassured her saying, “Okay Miss we will proceed together and you can calm down. You must scrupulously follow my instructions and my medical orders! We will try to rehydrate him by mouth with oral rehydration salts. You must completely eliminate fatty meals and give the appropriate antibiotics available at the pharmacy of our clinic. The mother replied, “Yes doctor, I will. You can count on me!”
Every 2 days she had an appointment with me. Before the weekend I saw her again and observed that she was courageously following my recommendations. But then at the beginning of the following week, she did not come to the clinic. I felt a little bit anxious and again angry because financially she probably was having trouble reaching the clinic or something else. But on Wednesday (6 days later), she entered into my office bearing a child in the same clothes but looking totally different. I have to admit I didn’t recognize her or even the child in her arms. She began the conversation like this, “Doctor this is Dieujackson, you understand? (in Creole “se Dieujackson wi“), the child who was nearly dying last week”. And I was totally surprised by the radical change. I just said in Creole, “Rete mwen sezi” (I am stunned!). I felt total joy and amazement to be a part of this miracle! She was so happy and grateful for the care, attention and patience she received at the Lamp clinic!
A great man has said, “The greatest gift you can give to a person is the gift of attention.” After her departure with the child, my day felt really blessed and proudly I said to myself, “This is LAMP, you understand!” (in Creole “Se sa ki LAMP la wi “). Every day, from Monday to Friday, we do our best to achieve miracles or at least to give support and put a smile on a patient’s face. This is the greatest gift we can give to our community of Cité Soleil, to our little sisters and brothers!