Tuesday, November 30, 2010

IPT Journal: The Digital Magazine

ROMPers, you've got to see this gorgeous digital magazine put together by our friends and partners at Illini Prosthetics. 'Nuf said

Support IPT


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Guatemala - A Novel Journey Begins

I'm rubbing the tired out of my eyes and washing it out of my brain with a freshly brewed pot of coffee. I arrived in Guatemala City last night around 9:30pm. My mission today is different from that mission that has awaited me in Guatemala City for the last five years. I won't make the mad dash journey east to Zacapa with bins, boxes and bags of prosthetic parts. At least, not yet. Today I'm getting supplies. Greg and Pat have biked for 70 days now from Oregon to the Southern Mexican state of Chiapas and are only a day away from the Guatemalan border. For their safety and in a show of support and admiration I'll be escorting them through Guatemala all the way to the ROMP clinic in Zacapa. I'm the logistics man, or as I like to think of it, the fifth Beatle. I'm off to breakfast and then a run to Hiper Paiz (Walmart's mega store chain in Guatemala) for gatorade, snacks a cooler, bike supplies and the daily ration of carbonated alcoholic grain juice.....BEER! No worries. Looks like I'll be seeing Greg and Pat tomorrow and will have plenty of photos and soon video to post. In the meantime be sure to read their own blog post Riding for ROMP 2010


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Haiti the Final Episode (Days 5-8)

Day 5. Its our last day of fabrication work. Julie is better now. Instead Heather is having asthma again. We do yoga. June comes with us. We work, that is all we do. And we assemble things and we are staring to get to mile 24 by the end of the day. Came home tired, ate left overs. Played some cards, we lost again. And then to bed.

Our feet are swollen. Our toes look like cocktail sausages. Julie has Kankles and Heather is in the process of getting them too. Mike still looks pretty regardless of his cold. I sleep with my feet up on a pillow for the first time in my life.

Day 6. Wake up to go to Fond des Blancs again for fittings. On the way Julie and I want to pee. At this point the level of confidence and sisterhood is so deep that we don't mind peeing one near the other. The funny thing is that while this ecuadorian girl was used to pee in bushes since little, Miss Lanphere could not do it… and while waiting… we saw a donkey, a goat, a motorcycle and the people riding on them had the pleasure of seeing this blond girl squatting in the middle of nowhere with her naked butt on the air… the good thing is that the laughter of that whole situation made the girl finally pee. And we continue our way to finish the mission.
Im so excited that we could see the fitting and results of our creation. Heading back we all take an hour nap in the car. Arrived to FDB and saw Lauriane, was like seeing an old friend. We ate lunch, it was rice, with some green pea sauce and some fish that Julie said had feathers. Time for fittings! They all go really well. SOme pt's are very excited, others are disappointed, but they know that we did what we were able to do for them. "Rule 90: Do not expect anything so you ll never be disappointed". By the end of the fitting I see julie talking in a high volume and in english to Monique (deaf/mute)… she does not understand anything she says but still smiles to her… "Heather tries to speak in french and Maxo looks confused" (Julie) and finally Mike asks Julie to translate to the patients in french. i guess we were all just tired! After all the fittings we go for a walk. Found some Rum. Back home Chef Mike make some great grilled cheese sandwiches. Later Mike confesses that he has not had a soap or shampoo during the hole trip, he tells us that he has been using the soap that is inside the shower. He comes up with this theory of how by rubbing it with your hands the soap becomes "yours" … but he does not convince us. We are still grossed out and he still has his hair all wiry due to bad quality soap and lack of conditioning. Heather gave him a little shampoo and conditioner, it was a real treat. Next day Mike hair looks soft and shiny. We ended up playing cards, drinking Rum & Coke/lime, Heather drinks 4 beers and gets tipsy, but the game continues. Julie loves winning, even though i hate losing, i enjoy seeing her so excited. Time to go to bed. I look at us three and i feel so sad to say good bye… so for now i only say good night.

Day 7. Wake up early for our Yoga class. The teacher is rushing to get through class while suffering from a hangover. After that we shower. The girls decide to put on make up. They look so pretty but i cant, for me its too hot. Instead i tell it to Mike so he can tease them about it. Heather is excited to meet some british guys. After breakfast we go to say good bye to our patients and to Lauriane. I feel very sad to leave cause i know that ill go back to my easy life. They will stay here waiting for the next group that can make their days a little different. Gina asks us to write her, to keep in touch. We say good bye and we leave. Heather sleeps on the way and there is nothing that wakes her up. We enjoy taking pictures of her and she doesn't even realize that. Next stop: gas station for some lunch. We stop to get some sandwiches. the place look a bit sketchy but hunger was bigger than anything else, so we eat. Mike and Jules get macaroni and cheese. Julie tells me that she has found 3 ants in the plate but said nothing not to spoil their meal. I laugh. Then the market. We all get paintings. All trying to represent in a painting the whole experience. We also get some metal sculptures and bracelets. Mike loves art and authentic things, i love to see him with his hands and arms full with gifts and souvenirs. After buying we finally go to meet the rest of the group. We quickly change in our bathing suits. We jump in the pool. And just enjoy the rest of the afternoon. That day the pool just feel so right and so fair for all the work we have done. Later we have dinner, shared some more experiences and then just spend time together.

Everbody is excited to go back home, see their families. I know we are going to miss each other. One part of us wants to go back , the other wishes we could be room mates for a longer time.

Day 8. Last class of Yoga. We had pancakes for breakfast. The groups are so similar that John, Dawn and Heidi are all dressed up in black and showered while the 4 of us are a bit sweaty from yoga, still with our pajamas and with messy hair… John realizes how similar we have become and how stinky by the way, we are (LOL). Going towards the airport we say good bye to the city. Glad to leave behind the chaotic traffic, the heat and the garbage, but definitely sad to leave the people. As Heather said, we came back with a bigger heart and with a bigger appreciation for Haiti and its people. At the airport we find the perfect place to chill. Everybody get some drinks, and we relax for 2 hours. We are tired but we all know at least in our group that we gave up every bit of energy we had in us , and we know that regardless of all the adversities, we were able to enjoy our time, and to give the best of us, and to find new special friends. And im thankful because i know that these experiences help us become more humble and more compassionate people.

I thank every one of you guys that came for everything each one gave to the group. Im very proud of the things that we accomplished together, the love we shared and the hard work we put into the work. I hope to have the opportunity to work with you in future projects! Thanks also to everyone who supports ROMP and made this trip and all of our projects a possibility.

love you all,

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Part 2 Haiti (Day 3 & 4)

So the story continues. Thanks for reading or skimming, your brain time is appreciated.

Day 3. We woke up for our first yoga class. Mike comes back from running with Prya, the PT in charge. We start the class, i can hear Mike making all sort of noises but prefer not to laugh so he keeps trying. I see Julie trembling furiously but i don't say anything so she keeps trying :) this trip was all about challenges ! instead, I'm horrible at cards game, but everybody does tell me that (LOL).

We pack our stuff, we have some breakfast with a starchy bread and some coffee. Put the casts on the back of the car and start the drive towards "Les Cayes". Again the same dumpy road that makes us shake and move like crazy. Heather tries to find an exercises by tightening her belly muscles, i know that there are hard days ahead of us so i try to relax every muscle in my body. Around 11 am i proposed to buy bananas, they are so tasty. We all have one. When i come back with Heather to the car, Julie is enjoying a popsicle! a deadly icy treat. I know there is definitely something going on in those frozen colored waters but she seems so happy that i prefer to stay quiet and take a picture instead. That is all part of the trip. Of course two days later she has diarrhea and we all agreed on the popsicle. Heather takes Dramamine before every drive, she says she is a light sleeper but no one believes that … although Julie has this disposible camera, and every time she passes a picture "krush krush krush" Heather does wake up, it is the only sound that perturbs her dream.

So we finally get to the O&P Rehab facility, directed by June Hanks . Skinny woman with a weird accent that makes me imagine her with cowboy pants and pistols. She is very smart and has a ton of faith. Lets do a description of our home mates. Marvin and Carmen. Couple from Nicaragua, they are good people, they have great hearts. They came to Haiti in order to help people. We will always remember that night when Marvin would showed us a card tricks and immediately after doing the tricks he would say "All right, ill show you" and he would reveal the secrets behind the cards. Hopefully they will stay there working and helping.

So those are the ones living in this place sharing the same roof with us. Back to our work. We had a pile of work to do. Mike set the time as a marathon. So we new that at mile 26 we were done! of course that took us around 3 days.

Its still day 3. We work as soon as we get there. Start filling molds. There is a technician. he is deaf and mute. First cast we strip down, the leg falls over. Mike : " Shit the pipe's half way down!" Marvin: "Welcome to Haiti". that is how our worked started. Up and downs but getting stuff done. These glitches were just things that reminded us where we were. For example, the eternally wet white paint on the walls that kept staining our clothes, the electricity cuts like 4 times a day, the three legged table, the work bench that got detached as we were putting our first casts, the spiders climbing out of the plaster bag, and the lack of googles that made us wear sun glasses inside the workshop. We worked till late that day. Ate dinner at the office. Heather discovers the coconut cookies or "cukies" as i would pronounce. We go back on the back of the pick up truck enjoying the breeze.

Day 4. We wake up really early. We do Yoga. This time breakfast is prepared. Julie is sick that day but she still shines like the sun. We worked really hard. Got KAFOS and AFOs done. But still have two KAFOS to make. Julie and Heather are ready to work at a central fab as technicians. They grind and use heavy machines. Heather has bandages all over her hands... its a fight between the machine & woman trying to over power them. Mike and I have colds. Work does not stop, we are like little ants. Jules sleep early. Mike, Heather and I gossip like school girls. We talk about life. We go to bed and all sleep like babies. Never did understand that expression. Dont babies wake up all the time during the night?

Final Installment to come...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Story from Haiti (Installations 1 & 2)


The team is safely back from Haiti and these blog installments will give a run down of what here orthotics team experienced during the week. Stay tuned for a few more updates:

Day 1. August 15th. The day has arrived. All the group get together in Miami except Julie. First person i see is Mike Oros and John Angelico and i cant help to hug them, im so happy to see them. Then i realize there is also a little woman right by them … Heather! so i say hello and i like her as soon as she asked the first question "Do you think its allright if i have shorts on?" Cause i knew later on she would get to realize how little i knew about fashion and how clueless i was about the situation in Haiti. I still said that it didn't matter to wear shorts but more to give her peace rather than for being sure about it. No one knew who Julie was. I picture her as a thin little asian woman... the group is jealous of me cause im going in first class. We get to Haiti, and we are surprised by the non chaotic situation of the airport. We find Julie, not at all what i imagined. Outside we find Gail, our host. Hop in the bus and start submerging into a totally different reality, a destroyed world. The energy of the group is good regardless of the first impressions of the city. But it is sad and i realize that it will take years in order to make this a better place. Garbage, poverty, disorder, dust, and tons of people selling stuff. The colorful buses give the city a brush of art and color. Life continues nevertheless and people find their way of surviving. It is amazing.

We get to the guest house. We are assigned a room for the girls, that room for me seemed taken out of an old fairy tale, maybe for the tones, and for the mosquito netting over the beds that looked like lace. Dinner was tasty. It frustrates me that Mike doesn't get a chocolate pudding. The group gets ready to hop in the pool. Its hot. I feel guilty about swimming when i know that 20 feet from there there are tents and poverty… but im too hot so i dive in anyways. After that we are told that our group will be leaving at 6 am. Before bed im introduced to a new card game Euchre. I think i never earned any respect from my group on that end. Time to go to bed and get ready for the adventure.

Day 2. We are supposed to wake up at 5h30 for Yoga. Heather will be the teacher. She wakes me up at 5h30 and tells me "DONI im actually going to sleep 15 min more" … so i guess there was no yoga that day. Breakfast, shower and got ready to leave. It would take us around 4 hours in order to get to Fond des Blancs , to the Spinal Cord Injury center. We traverse the messy capital again and we go past all sort of vendors. Mike needs to buy flip flops. So we stop in the market. A basket filled with tons of sandals, some were orphans , some had a mate.. finally found one pair that fit him; the girls also want something and they like my style ;) so they get a bandana, the group starts to gel and to look alike. Out of Port au Prince, we enter a green maze that mixes with the blue (bleu) sky.

Got to the Hospital and a beautiful french girl (Lauriane) received us. She is so small, that i feel like Hulk next to her. We start working right away. The PT in charge is not there. Lauriane guides us and introduces us to the patients. All injured during the earthquake. Beautiful people, all of them look like ebony sculptures. We all feel sorry for the situation and we try to make it as good as we can with the abilities we have learned. We all cast. Julie and Heather do too. They are great, real volunteers ready to do anything no matter what. We ended up seeing 6 pt's:

1. Dominique 26 y/o. Math Teacher. Spinal cord injury. Made 2 KAFOs (leg braces)

2. Mamette: 27 y/o. Beautiful woman. Mom of 2. Spinal Cord Injury, followed by some complications due to lack of compliance and care from her family. Got a TLSO (spinal brace) and 1 KAFO.

3. Gina: 26 y/o. Teacher. Spinal Cord Inijury complete. Very weak. Rx: B AFOs (foot braces) for transfer and positioning.

4. Monique: 26 y/o. Could not know much from her. She was deaf/mute. Spinal Cord Injury. Weakness. B AFOs for Transfer and positioning.

5. Nestly: Spinal Cord Injury and BE amputee. Mike starts to fabricate a prosthesis for him.

6. Maxo: 43 y/o. Carpenter. Spinal Cord Injury incomplete. HE had good strength on R leg. Rx: R AFO, L KAFO.

All patients injured after the earthquake. After hours of evals and castings Mike and I know that its going to be a hard butt kicking week. We go up to shower, to eat and to play some Euchre. Julie & I couple of smart ass girls choose the beds first, the ones againts the wall thinking that they were better... only to realize later what a bad choice we made cause the beds had tons of minuscule bugs walking all over. I sleep with socks, the socks on top of my pants, as if i was ready to ride a bike. Mike is not able to sleep that night due to the snoring of several guys in there.

Here are some pictures of the team and the action from these first two days. Another post to come tomorrow...day 3 and 4!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Update from Team Haiti (Team John Angelico that is)

The ROMP team in Haiti has been split into two groups. The larger group is working in Les Cayes at the Spinal Clinic seeing lots of orthotic patients. The second group is John Angelico. Now, I know that one person technically does not qualify as a group. But, in the world of prosthetics a guy like John Angelico might as well be considered a whole damn prosthetic clinic. He's been thrown into the fray solo, working with Spanish and French speaking students and practitioners. In spite of it all, as a one man all-star team, he's been making legs and teaching through multiple language barriers. When I was a kid John was my principal prosthetist. After making lots of legs for me he was kind enough to teach me a bit of his magic. Now you can all read about his adventures on his self-titled "Not so Super Cool Blog"

It's damn good and hilarious too.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day 3 Haiti

I'm not in Haiti so I cant really say much except that the team is there and they are working.

For team member John Angelico's blogspot check this out.

Dani's email message from last night:

Bonjour Eric & Dave,

First of all im glad you guys thought of me to come here. We did not have any translator, except a girl that is working here from france :) so i was able to split with her and do all the talking and casting. Pts do understand a lot of french and so far all the pts we have evaluated are just beautiful.
Organization side things have been a bit off. We came here and there was nothing really planned, but we figured things out and we ended up casting and evaluating. We were at a Spinal Cord Injury hospital so all the pts needed something. We ended up casting for 5 AFOs and 2 Kafos and tomorrow we ll cast for other 2 KAFOS. So Mike and I will be fabricating tomorrow at les cayes, and well make sure that the PT and the Doctor (who are great) work their butts off too :) they actually casted for AFO today.
We also deliverd that TLSO and it fit great! That patient was so nice, we have tons tons of pictures. We have not used a KRONOS (team journal) at all, cause we have been just travelling for 5 hours to get here and in the afternoon we were working and taking pics and filming till 7 pm and now they are having some Prestiges (Haitian beer) and chilling out. This house has so many people that we/they are all talking and getting to know eachother.

What else... ill have more info and date of pts in the report.
Eric you send three shirts for each volunteer, thank you for that. But we ended up giving up one of those two to Menette, Gina, MOnique , Lauraine and taking pics with it :) i have 2 less but oh if you would have seen their smiles :)

Ok that is all for now. We are all good. And i think everybody is happy and tired.

Je vous souhaite une bon journe.