23 Dec

Since CPR certification is not required in the Haitian boondocks (weird, I know), my basic life support for healthcare providers certification was due for renewal before I could start a nursing job here in the states. I was so completely unprepared for what I would face during those 3.5 hours.

The test was easy, just as I had anticipated…compressions and breaths haven’t really changed since I last learned them. But the whole class was one of the most difficult things I’ve experienced post-Haiti. Most people taking the class will not experience those learning situations in their real life. Those that do will likely be in a healthcare facility or, at the very least, have emergency personnel on site within 8 minutes. Five if you live in Orange County.

Or never if you live in Haiti. Our instructor taught us the skills we needed to know amidst statements like these:

“You’ve probably never walked into a room where someone was already unresponsive”

“You’ve probably never been in a full code. Even less likely for an infant”

And I fought back tears, sometimes unsuccessfully, as his statements triggered memories like these:

Being woken up by a nanny while it’s still dark out to find sweet Theo already cold on his cot.

Compressing little Annabel’s heart with my thumbs knowing the whole time that the hospital was simply too far away.

Sleeping in the hospital crib, curled around Devensley who clutched his toy maraca, as his flesh-eating infection improved but who would die a few days later anyway.

Waiting anxiously for each e-mail response from a consulting pediatrician as we watched the life drain from Micah’s tiny body.

Measuring Roseline’s head as it kept growing, taking her life only a week before her scheduled hydrocephalus surgery.

Pleading with countless doctors to help Midelson by transfusing my blood without the week-long delay getting fully tested in Port Au Prince, for his life to end hours before he was to receive the blood.

I spent the entirety of that class remembering these faces, these stories, overcome with emotion I could barely contain. Sorrow. Guilt. Terror. I am overwhelmed.


Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Haitian Reflections, Sheila


2 responses to “Overwhelmed

  1. Anna

    December 23, 2013 at 10:37 am

    I can relate, Sheila….Totally get it. Love you so much. This sucks, everything you mentioned. What is maybe even more disturbing, though, is when in a few years of living in the States and doing healthcare here you realize you are living as if those tragedies never happened or still happen today. That is what disturbs me the most – the “back to normal” that your body and mind has to adjust to in order to function. It’s a journey… Big hugs.

  2. Kris Thede

    December 23, 2013 at 11:05 am

    Guilt is not from our heavenly Father, my friend. He could have saved each one of those dear babies. He could of raised them again to live in this life, even if you’d not done your best to save them. He still works miracles. Been praying for you extra the last couple of weeks knowing this time of year would be hard even if you’re in the USA. Cry. Remember the hard times but picture the Lord being there with His hand on your shoulder. You were never alone. You were not responsible for those deaths. You showed HIS love by being HIS hands. His tears mingle with yours but it is the fault of sin, sickness and death. No more guilt my friend. Praying for healing. I’ve been in your spot. I too have faces and stories, and memories. We must focus on His light! He loves us all. He loves each of the children you named and holds them in His hands. He loves you and holds you as well. Kouraj.


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