Wednesday, December 17, 2014

High Speed Delivery and Other Random Stuff

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to try out my recently purchased, old, large, Yamaha dirt bike on a "quick" run out the trail to Ti Goave. We had some lab results that needed picked up as well as a stool sample that needed taken in for testing for one of our patients. Before putting it in my backpack I made sure that it was triple bagged on top of the plastic container itself, I may be overly paranoid about such things but I've had bad experiences in the past.  I made it out the trail to Ti Goave in about 50 minutes and ran the necessary errands without a hitch. While fueling up at the gas station before heading up the trail I noted heavy rainclouds enveloping the tops of the mountains I was about to ascend. I tried to tell myself that somehow I would miss it if I hurried but about 15 minutes up the trail torrents of rain began to fall. Since I had papers and a computer in my backpack I wasn't too excited about getting it soaked so I ducked into a little tarp covered food stand along the road to wait the rain out. The friendly little lady that ran the stand graciously allowed me to crouch inside and even offered me a plastic bag to keep the paperwork in my backpack dry. 20 minutes later the rain had slacked off to a drizzle and I took off up the trail again to find that the surface had become slicker than grease. My admiration for the Haitian motorcycle taxi drivers grew by leaps and bounds as I watched them calmly continue driving with up to three passengers on their small motorcycles through mudholes and swollen streams while I was barely being able to stay upright on mine. Nevertheless, I do believe that I provided tremendous entertainment  for the pedestrians along the road.
  There have been some very encouraging things happening at the clinic this past while, like the boy who had been brought in several months ago with a major  abdominal/ bowel perforation and since then had been staying in the hospital up until 2 1/2 weeks ago when we sent him home. In the two months he was at our  clinic he changed from a demanding and contrary and unpleasant smelling rack of skin and bones whom the doctors hardly had any hope for to a healthy and filled out looking comedian who has basically adopted himself into the family and calls me his dad since I have been his primary caretaker since I arrived in Haiti. The abscess behind his umbilicus is hardly causing any problems any more but we're still somewhat concerned about what caused his problems in the first place.  
my self-proclaimed son and I

  Last night after supper Kindra, Rhoda and I walked down to the clinic to check on several patients that are staying in the hospital room. As we got near the front gate we could hear something that sounded like a woman in labour coming from the little outbuilding up the hill from the clinic where patients sometimes stay. I had no idea anyone was staying up there but Rhoda remembered that Whitney had let a full term pregnant mother who had walked a long way to the clinic by herself stay the night though she hadn't been in labour at that time. Anyway, the nurses hurried up to the little shed to check out what was going on and as soon as Rhoda went in and took a quick look she said something about thinking the lady was almost ready and she and Kindra took off for the main clinic building to get the birthing supplies. As soon as they had left I heard a little more commotion inside and decided to see what was going on. I took a quick look inside and saw that the baby's head had already delivered and desperately hollered after the retreating nurses that the baby was already coming out. Kindra came running back and we hurriedly tried to don our gloves in the dark since this little room has no electric lights but before we got them on a healthy little baby girl slithered out onto the floor and began to yell. Rhoda soon returned with the supplies and I headed to the clinic to find some towels. Everything happened in a matter of about 2 minutes.  After Kindra had the baby all wrapped up in a blanket and the mother had been brought down to the hospital room to spend the night we could hardly stop laughing our heads off at the irony of it all. The mother was laughing and talking and in a great mood immediately after the delivery as if she did stuff like that every day. It was the first delivery I've ever been present at and it was about the funniest experience I've had so far in the medical field.
  Please continue to pray for the nurses and all the staff here as people keep bringing patients to the clinic that seem to be under some sort of spiritual/demonic oppression and apparently have nothing medically wrong with them which makes these cases very difficult to deal with. These cases are unlike anything I have ever seen in the states but I really don't have time to write any specifics tonight.

 God is still conquering!

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Thousand Words

-that's what they say a picture is worth.  So I figure that by the time you've viewed all the pictures that I'm including in this post, you'll have heard something like three thousand-five hundred words about our day.  Plus the minimal amount I intend to type in addition to that.

Our consultation rooms stay full, as our little clinic stretches to hold all the nurses and patients.  

Precious little babies, in desperate need of love that they're not getting.  Our young neighbor boy, who works for the local witch doctor. Coffee for weary minds; and candy, an oft-prescribed medicine for our young patients' trials.  Wilfred and his Bible story book.  The usual mass of people attempting to get their prescriptions to the front of the line.  Clipboards hanging neatly on the wall.  Patients lined not-so-neatly up on the bench.  Inspiration in the form of the written word.  


A single day. 

Our day. 

Sincerely, Kindra

Monday, December 1, 2014

Do Angels Make Ginger Tea?

    There are certain things that break your heart. One is Kinsley. Partly because he's angelicaly cute, and partly because he's sick, but mostly because his mommy just walked off on him. Then, when Kinsley yells my name from beside the road, and runs into my arms like a little fuzz ball, nothing but saying that I am allowed to adopt him will make me happy. Unless his mom comes back.
    And then there are the spiritual battles. This month has had more of them.
    Our last birth was Saturday night. The labor lasted Saturday night, all night long and into Sunday. The mom, Monique, would yell and throw her body around, at times lying on the floor for a while, or walking crazily outside like a maniac wind-up toy. Then she would call people on the phone and yell and say she was dying. Nothing seemed to be abnormal in her progress and labor, except that it was slow.
    The dad of the baby had never witnessed a birth before, even though it was this lady's seventh child. It was the first child with this new, frenzied husband. He was very stressed out, and would stand beside the wall and cry with his hands raised helplessly. Then they would call the one child in to stand beside the mom. It only added to the stress, as the little girl was not emotionally able to cope with seeing her parents so worked up in the middle of a sleepless night. She would cry loudly along with them.
   Marcile and I were trying to sing, even if our colds and tiredness made our voices sound rather crackly and ancient. We attempted to get the dad and child to go sleep, but that didn't work too well, as it only made the mom fuss and yell out to them, and ask why they left her alone like that.
    By about four o'clock in the morning we were getting very physically and emotionally drained. Before long, neighbors that she had called, began to show up and scold her for being so ridiculous. She calmed down one notch, and then, flew back into another fit, telling us she was dying once more.
    Janelle was trying to keep us inspired with coffee and drinks. She was so encouraging and calming, and we were so glad she was there to pray along with us, as we realized that this baby was at the mercy of a mother who had an evil spirit on her.
    By about 9:00 in the morning, the mother began having more serious cases of spiritual attacks. Her labor would stop and she would be unresponsive as her whole body convulsed. We began to fear for the life of the baby.
   Then the aunt, who was a Christian, prayed in the name of Jesus for the  evil spirit to go out. We all joined in. She told us to drink some ginger tea, take a break, and eat some bread. We all were convinced that she was an angel. The love of Jesus in her life was such a contrast to our long night with the fear of the family all around us.
   Before long we called up to the church and asked for someone to come and pray. Instead, the whole church stood up and prayed. During that time she had a very productive contraction.
   We were very happy when a few girls from church came down and helped pray through the final contractions that it took to push the baby out. Praise the Lord! Marcile and I were shaking by this point. It was about 11:00, by now. So much relief, tiredness, and strain from the fight to bring this baby boy into the world washed over our bodies.
     So that whole scene pretty much broke our hearts. The joy of a new life, and then, to top it off, the mom wasn't even happy. She turned her back and laid the baby behind her on the bed.
     But we have some hope to give people like this. Both Kinsley and Monique can't resist the love of Jesus. It is the hope that could change their futures and give them a reason to live again.
    Thanks for praying, friends! Have a good week.
    Rhoda, for the whole Ahlege staff

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Tale of Seven Tummies

There were three paracenteses done at the clinic today.


The first one was on Wilfred, the young man that Whit mentioned in her last blog who had had one last Friday as well.  Dr. Felix was here again, and he had explained to Whit and I last week how to do a paracentesis, and apparently decided that this week it was time to get to the hands-on part of the lesson.  Whit performed this one flawlessly, and we ended up draining over four liters off him today.  He's still staying with us, and we're not really sure what we should do with him.  Dr. Felix's opinion was that whether we did the paracentesis or not, he doesn't have much time left.  We think he's in kidney failure, but without the labs to show for it, we can't be certain.  If he is, and in a case as advanced as his....We find ourselves almost hoping that he will be out of his misery soon.  Please pray for him- and for us, as we try to decide whether we should send him home to his family for his final weeks, or keep him here where we may be able to ease his pain a bit better.  He was telling me today that he wants to go to church Sunday, and I'm praying that he will be able to, as I don't know if he will have an opportunity again this side of eternity or not.

The second was on an older gentleman who had come in yesterday with what I first noticed when controlling him (the term they use for taking vitals- nobody get too concerned) as a really fast pulse that was sitting at about 180bpm.  After triple-checking it to make sure I wasn't going crazy, and noting his larger-than-usual tummy in the process, I went to notify Ro of the joyous news that I had someone for her to see.  She put him on furosemide, and added him to our growing collection of patients in the hospital room.  Doc decided today that he needed to have a paracentesis done as well, and he donated a lovely total of nearly four liters of fluid to our waste system.

The third and final one was a woman who had come in Wednesday with- you guessed it, a big belly.  She was also put on furosemide and given a bed, and was still here when Doc finished the second paracentisis.  We headed over to her bed from there to see if he thought she needed one as well, which he did.  He had a bit of trouble doing hers, and we were only able to drain off about 1L of fluid from her.  It did seem to bring her some relief, though, so I'm glad we were able to at least do that much.

But the big bellies that we've been doing paracenteses on aren't the only ones that we've seen quite a bit of lately.  Whit and Mali delivered a little boy first thing yesterday morning, then yesterday evening while we were playing Dutch Blitz up at Rhonda's where we had gone to spend the afternoon for Thanksgiving, we received a phone call letting us know that there was another woman in labor waiting for us at the clinic.  So Ro and I jumped on a machine with Mali and her parents, and hastened off to assist in another of life's greatest moments of wonder.  Ro and I were dropped off at the clinic, where we found that she wasn't very far along, so we decided to do our evening rounds with our small flock of patients, and go home and try to get a little sleep in before going back to check on her again.  That plan lasted until we finished getting ready for bed and crawled under the covers, when we heard the typical "laboring woman" knock at the gate, and her husband summoned us back to the clinic.  We ended up deciding to just wait it out with her down there, and I couldn't help but think when I glanced at the clock once around 1:00, of a different crowd of people somewhere who were also probably chilled, sleepy, and tired of waiting; but those were about the only things that I could think of that we had in common right then.  With the disconnection that being down here brings, Black Friday seems even more ludicrous, when I think about the throngs of rapacious people (if they can really be called people, when they don't act in a way that deserves that distinction) descending on stores across the U.S.; desperate to spend not quite as much money on an item that they never really needed in the first place.  I'm not sure how my little post here has morphed into this mini-rant on American greed, but as I sat down there last night waiting, with a woman and her sweet husband who hardly had enough money to pay us the less-than-$7.00 that we charge for a delivery, the contrast was pretty striking.  But anyway, back to the baby- she arrived a little before 2:00, and from her very vigorous cries, I'm fairly certain she wasn't thrilled about her new surroundings.  Forty minutes later we were finished cleaning up and settling them in for the night, so we turned our tired feet toward home and once again readied ourselves for bed.  I was going to try to get a photo this morning to add to our blog, since y'all have probably forgotten what everyone down here looks like by now, but they had left by the time I had a camera rounded up.  And then, in all the hustle and bustle of the rest of the day, I never really had time to take the rest of the pictures that I meant once again, y'all will have to read a photo-less post.

And now tonight, somewhere during the course of my writing the first couple paragraphs of this post, Whit and Mali were once again called upon to catch a new little life as it made its way into the world.  A little boy, this time, which seems to be the dominant gender for this week's rush of babies.  Things went smoothly again, and after cleaning up, they were able to join us at the house again, shortly before Ro and Hans arrived back from town with ice cream in tow.  Coffee-flavored ice cream, mind you. :o)

On a bit of a side note from today, and for my seventh stomach person; Monet (the fellow blogged about in Don't Untie That Knot!) finally left for home.  He was given a rendezvous for Monday, and after making his rounds to everyone to say goodbye, he left on the machine with Hans and Rhoda shortly after lunch today.  The clinic feels like it's missing something somehow since he's not there to laugh at my awful Creole and I no longer hear him calling for his "sister" whenever I walk through the hospital room.  One of our other patients that was observing the farewells asked Whit if she thought that love could make a person well, to which she replied the affirmative; and we believe that Monet is the perfect example of just that.  I can hardly remember that the funny, round-faced friend that told us farewell today is the same skinny guy who so disliked me when he first came and I gave him his first IM shot (he held a grudge about that for a long time).  I wish him the best, and pray that his time here can forever alter his life, as it didn't seem too bright before.  He told me when he left that he's planning on coming to church in Sunday, and I hope he finds a way to make good on that promise.

Well, I'm still running a little short on sleep, so I think I'm going to wrap this up.  I hope you all have a wonderful, blessed, and restful weekend...and that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with big family get-togethers, good food, and fun games.  God bless!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Piece From My Perspective

  Ok.  I'm just trying to write a simple blog post.   Not a big deal, right?  But getting it started has felt like trying to start an engine on an empty tank.  Despite a little fooling sputter (or perhaps a sputtering fool, as I'm beginning to wonder about in my case), it simply doesn't get anywhere.  :/    So why do I keep trying, even after the um-teenth futile attempt?  I guess I'm still hopeful that somehow it'll just start going.   I think maybe it's starting...though I haven't proved to myself that it isn't just a downhill coast yet.    :]  Usually when the going gets this hard, its cause I've taken a wrong turn, trying to force my train of thought to fly on the highway, when I really just need to find the tracks again.   And since I wasn't intending to write a blog about blogging, let me get back on track...

Clinic life.  People.  Medical cases.


 Ah, much better.   

  It's no wonder I'm feeling so sidetracked, considering *public confession* it's been a couple months since I've blogged!  :/   And not just a normal couple of months.   I'd say crazy, but that's standard, and I think "standard" has been raised.  So it's been CRAZY.  But rather than employing every excuse that I feel is applicable in my defense,  I'll just include you in some of the craziness and hope your sympathetic response will be summoned to the cause of my blog negligence.  ;)  But I won't waste my time trying to revive my memory from two months ago, instead I'll test my short-term memory ability and see if I can still pull up last week. That ought to give you an ample sample of recent clinic culture!   

  Rho and Hans were gone with a group of heart patients seeing a visiting heart doctor in another hospital.  Had a very busy day at clinic with around 100 people, but thankfully no real emergencies.

  Not quite as many people, but two strange cases involving one two year old girl who seemed to have nothing wrong with her other than that she refused to swallow anything but water.  We tried multiple times to put in an IV, but never were able to get one that ran well.    We wondered what exactly we were working with...physical sickness or spiritual problems?  We've seen and heard of cases where there's been a curse put on someone simply making them unable to swallow till eventually they die.  It's such a demonic tactic, to cut off our source of life and kill like that!
  The other case was a very sick, very fat 15 month old baby with very congested lungs and trouble breathing that we put on meds and oxygen. We kept both little girls in our hospital room to stay so we could continue monitoring them.

  We're beginning to wonder if having 100 or more patients a day is going to be the new normal! Makes for a very full clinic.  We've already been dreaming of adding a few more rooms to move around in and getting more meds for the growing need.   Not hinting, really. :)
  Mali and I took a hike with Fre Noaz in the afternoon after clinic to visit an old man, Aginol, whose wife recently died.   As soon as we got back, we went with Hans on the machine to pick up Fre Gevan, the man with the broken back so he could spend the night in our hospital and leave early the next morning to get back surgery in Mirabale.
  Hans and Rho left at two in the morning for Mirabale!
When we got to clinic in the morning,  Fre Noaz was already almost finished praying, which meant that we didn't have any time before clinic opened to get most of our bandage patients through, which we usually try to do.  Then there were people everywhere, overflowing the benches and lining the fences behind them.   We had close to 140 patients that day!  
  We often get a lot of pressure from patients to get them seen quickly, not because it's late in the day, but because many of them have a few or more hour hike home and want to make it there before dark.  We do our best, but on days like Thursday, the pressure can get a little hot, testing our patience and endurance with impatient patients and with each other.   I think for the first time that I remember, I sat down at the end of the day and just let the stress run from my eyes! :]  
  Besides the crowd of regular patients, the fat baby that had come Tuesday took a turn for the worse and we ended up sending her out to town, only to hear she died shortly after getting there.   Mali had checked her blood sugar when she first came, to rule out diabetes, but her sugar was normal.  They checked it again in town, and it was 500.  But it was too late. 
  Another very sick-looking 24 year old boy, Wilfred, was brought in on a cot. Everything from his stomach down was swollen so tight with fluid it seemed like it'd be impossible for his skin to stretch any farther without bursting.  He's seen other doctors before, and came to us asking if we could drain the water off his stomach again.  I told him the doctor was coming the next day, but I wondered how much longer he could live in his condition.  I asked him if he was saved.  He said he was.  
  In the afternoon, another old man was brought in with severe stomach pains.  We treated him as much as we could and gave him a bed to stay the night.  
Rho and Hans made it back just at the tail end of clinic, exhausted from their virtual all-nighter trip, but happy to be back!  
  Around 10:00 that night, we got a knock on the gate reporting a man with a cut on his head. They told us it was caused by a rock.  We girls had been in the middle of having a girls' night, so we all went down together and had a blast whipping up a stitch job with all hands on deck! :) In the process, we found out that the cut was actually the result of a fight over one dollar that another guy owed him. :]

  Woke up early morning to a knock on the gate by the husband of a woman in labor, who came wondering if we could come pick her up on the trail.  We questioned him out a bit and, learning it was her first, we explained that it'd probably be better if she walked here to help her labor increase.  He seemed to understand that well and went running back to help her walk here.
  Shortly after that, as we were eating breakfast, we heard loud wailing start up at the clinic. We knew that meant someone had died.  My first thought was Wilfred.  Mali and I jumped up and ran down to find out.  We were surprised to find it was the old man that had come in with severe stomach pains the day before.   It seemed so strange, and saddening that we couldn't do more but put his body in a body bag and comfort the family before heading back home to finish our breakfast in preparation for the rest of the day ahead.
  When we got back to clinic, the mother in labor was waiting for us, and we, surveying the sizeable crowd of patients again overflowing the benches, were quite grateful to confirm that she wouldn't be having her baby too soon!  
  The DR came and performed a parasinthesis on Wilfred.  We kept a close tab on his vitals as he drained off 12,000ml of fluid!   (And no, that's not a typo)
  As soon as clinic was over, Mali and I left on the machine with Donny to go to the funeral of the baby girl who had died, and also to give a ride home to a dear little old man who was so crippled he could barely walk.
  A ways up the trail we passed a moto driver who yelled in passing something about the road being blocked ahead.  Sure enough, a couple-foot high blockade of rocks around the next bend forced us to stop.  We got off and walked far enough past it to see several more road blocks farther up the road, along with a very rowdy crowd of young guys that came running down the road toward us.  
  We started to wonder if maybe we shouldn't be there.   They quickly made us know we shouldn't be.  
"Go!" "Go fast, and get out of here!"  And we did.   They were adamant that nobody would be passing the road, no matter what the reason.  We were able to get some explanation as they marched us back to our machine.
  They told us that the former mayor of Ti Goave was up in the mountains for a party and would soon be going back down.  They were full of hate for her, and pretty much told us that they would be doing us a good service if they could kill her. 
  We did get out of there fast, driving back the trail quite a ways and up the next mountain, giving us a clear view across the valley to where they were waiting for her convoy of machines to confront them.   Many excited Haitians gathered with us to see what would happen.  Before long we heard them coming behind us, soon passing us in a cloud of colorful chaos...a swarm of honking motos, surrounding two go-cart looking rigs blaring music and flying recklessly fast down the trail.   
  Wild story mild, they roared past us and we watched nervously as they wound up the trail across the valley and came up to the road block.  The group of guys there quickly spread out across the steep hill overlooking the road and began hurling rocks and stones down at the exposed drivers, one of which was the mayor lady.  
  We shuddered as we heard the threatening sound of gunshots being fired into the air and watched all the stone-hurlers drop to the ground for safety, except for a couple who stood undaunted, ready and willing to die on the spot.  The road blocks were soon moved and the caravan continued on till the next village, where we heard there was another confrontation, a closer call for the mayor as it sounded.
  We followed on far behind, the funeral we originally left for being long-since over, but we went ahead and visited the family after we had taken the little old man home.  We were so glad we were able to stop and spend time comforting the mother, who was still pretty distraught.  The father kindly assured Mali that she wasn't to fault.  He said they saw how she did her best doing everything she could for their baby, and that it was in God's hands.  
  We got home just in time to eat supper, over which we got another knock on the gate, someone telling us that the mother in labor was getting close.
Another jog to the clinic, another check confirming that the baby would be coming soon, and then the wait... till baby was born at 10:00.  Other than the mother needing a couple stitches, everything went very well, and we were glad it was over before too late.  
  That same night, however, Rho and Marcile got called down to another birth, this one being a neighbor lady who came and had her baby without them and went right back home a few yards away after they cleaned things up! :)  We were all grateful the third woman in labor who also arrived Friday and was staying at the clinic didn't decide to have her baby that night to. :)

  I was on call for the weekend, so I went down in the morning to check on our full hospital room of patients.  Rho and Marcile came down to check on the laboring mother, who despite all her so "woi-ing" was still not very far along.  
  As a growing number of non-emergency people continued wandering in from the road to buy meds for headaches and coughs, and asking to be seen for other such maladies, I finally just walked off to hide in the depo for a few minutes and deal with my exasperation before coming back and calmly taking care of the patients I could and then explaining to the rest that the clinic is only open for emergencies on Saturday.    Ah...Lord give me patience to be unselfish with my weekend! :]
  A major bright spot in the morning, as I was taking Wilfred's vitals, his mom told me that he said he'd like to talk to a Pastor and be converted!   
"Is that true?!?" I asked him.  He nodded seriously.  "You remember when I asked you the other day if you were saved and you said you were?"
Yes, he remembered.  He said he had lied to me, but now he was ready to get saved!  We called Fre Noaz down and he came and talked and prayed with him.  It's a real encouragement to see the peace of his countenance despite the pain of his condition!

  So what became of the last laboring mother?  Rho and Marcile ended up spending most of their Sunday afternoon working with her till she finally delivered a big baby boy that evening, a very scary birth they said.  They were very grateful that after all her hemorrhaging she made it through fine.
  I wonder how many paragraphs ago your attention span timed out... Admittedly, I've begun to feel more like a drone plane, passing over many experiences at a less personal distance for sake of time, so maybe I oughta start looking for a good place to land... :)

 There's much, much more from the last two months... Early October had Rho leaving for ten days with Janette Musser here to help fill in, followed by a two-week visit from two of my 15 favorite siblings;), our dear Kin coming back to work with us, many different patient cases...and everything else in between!   :)  I'd share some pictures, but with the way the internet is right now, I'll be doing well just to get this posted.  

  Thank you all for your interest and support!  Remember us in your prayers!  We often feel our weakness, and recognize that the only strength we have is what we find in the Lord.   He knows how much we can handle, and though He stretches us to fill the shoes He gives us, He'll never make them too heavy for us to walk in!  Have a blessed evening!