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.