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INTERNET ANGELS OF COMFORT

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“Traveling” to Guatemala and Back Again - One Connection at a Time
By DA Gray
Edited by CC Gray, MA

Conductors Logbook - April 2005

These travels were not of the traditional holiday consisting of boarding a plane, bus, train or any other mode of transportation. All travels were taken aboard the “Network Express”, via the World Wide Web. The ticket price was minimal: all that was necessary was patience and perseverance. However, the journey was often frustrating and arduous, but the destination was clear and the subsequent “pictures” are worth more than a 1000 words.

An urgent S.O.S. was posted on the Melanie’s Battle website[1] on behalf of a new mother who was struggling with PPD with psychotic overtones. The entry on the website was from the older sister, Chata, of the mother, Lucy[2], in crisis. Chata was seeking professional guidance to find additional postpartum depression information to offer greater understanding regarding what the family’s loved one was experiencing. Knowing the risks involved with PPD and Psychosis based on first-hand experience, attention to Chata’s request began immediately.

Lucy lived in an area without PSI representation - Guatemala, Central America.
 
The eventual resolution would come by way of a well established network of professionals, such as PSI and their affiliates. Two “networked” professionals, a member and past President of PSI, Sonia Murdock and Jane Honikman, the founding director of PSI, were consulted regarding this critical international SOS – Murdock suggested a Spanish speaking PPD Program,[3] as did Honikman.

The information provided was that Lucy was previously brought to a maternity hospital where she was subsequently admitted and then attempted suicide; as a result of this attempt, she was placed in a psychiatric hospital. Further concerns of Chata’s were forwarded to Honikman regarding whether the medications prescribed were consistent with a recommended treatment plan.

Honikman eventually called upon the medical expertise of Marta B. Rondon, MD. of Lima, Peru. Rondon replied with specific comments regarding the prescribed medications and offered direct communication to Lucy and her family. Contact between Chata and Rondon began immediately. Dr. Rodon had made constructive suggestions regarding medications: at last report, Lucy was responding positively to the changes to her medications.

What a great resource the Internet is! Even though currently there are not PSI contacts in all areas where women experience postpartum mood disorders – the world – we do have a wonderful network of professionals who advocate prevention whenever and wherever the need arises. Working together brought much understanding to Lucy’s family so that additional postpartum information could help to provide the very best in treatment options. “Professional networking” via the “Network Express” assisted one very lucky woman in Central America to regain hope and an opportunity for a “positive mothering experience”.
 
[1] The Melanie Blocker Stokes Foundation, Carol Blocker - www.melaniesbattle.org
[2] The mother’s name was changed for protection of the innocent. Chata provided permission to use her name.

[3] Susan L. Adler, LCSW, ACSW, Alexian Brothers Spanish-speaking Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorder Program, Elk Grove Village, 1 Illinois, USA, 847-755-3295 or 847-956-5142  Please leave a message if not calling Mondays and Tuesdays or Wednesday & Thursday until 2:00 PM.  To refer: Encourage client to call directly. Referral sources: Obtain permission to ALSO contact Susan directly with relevant referral information.

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Post Script:

 

This past year, I was asked by Dr. Marta Rondon through Jane Honikman, founder of PSI, to write the above article about how internet networking with a wonderful group of professionals was able to bring support to one lucky mother and her family living in Guatemala, Central America.  After at least 30 emails between postpartum advocates, the SOS call once posted on the Melanies Battle web site was finally answered. 

 

When the article was finished and sent to Dr. Rondon, she in turn listed it with the Peruvian "List Serve" - where over 400 psychiatrists could view the article as well. 

 

Doctors once told me during treatment, "You will never get any better", I can now say with conviction "you were so wrong".  Finally, I feel that I have come full circle!

 

 

NO WOMAN IS IMMUNED

 

Having experienced the worst of motherhood - coming so close to the edge of no return - I truly believe that all women have a God-given right to be the best mothers possible.  Remembering, however, that perfection is not a requirement and is nearly impossible in the best of situations.  All any woman or mother can do is their very best.

 

The next woman to experience baby blues, depression and/or psychosis could be your mother, daughter, sister, wife or friend. No woman is immuned!  No woman should be left without hope of getting proper care in any medical emergency, especially during pregnancy or early motherhood. 

 

My sincere thanks to Jane Honikman, Helena Bradford, Katherine Stone, Teresa Twomey and Carol Blocker for being the brave pioneers in this once neglected field.  All of us have become the best of advocates and the passion we share has made us life-long friends. 

 

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