And again, the embodiment of the roller coaster of working in a developing country. The day after the baby was born we had a baby die. He came in unresponsive and I helped the resident run the code until others arrived. Despite aggressive measures, we couldn’t bring him back. I did several rounds of CPR on him which involves chest compressions. It is such a sickening feeling to push on a baby’s chest, especially when you know how dire the situation is.
The next day was even worse. I was in triage for another little boy who was having multiple seizures in the context of a high fever. We dealt with his seizures but he had other complications. The next day his breathing was in trouble so we needed to put a breathing tube down his throat. During that process his heartbeat dropped and we started compressions but again, he passed away. The hardest part in all of this for me is seeing the parents. They don’t fully understand what we are doing (although we try to explain) during the process and it’s heartbreaking to see them realize that their child has died. Especially in Haiti where it’s normal to grieve loudly and publicly when first hearing of a death. I personally had to step out and take a moment. I was able to come back and help dress the body and clean up the bed afterwards but at that moment, I needed a deep breath.
But, that is what I signed up for. And I always feel like the best way to describe this type of work is tragedy juxtaposed sharply with hilarity. And I know it may sound insensitive but by that evening, we went to the UN and were happy and laughing. But how else to deal with these issues and maintain one’s sanity?