Monday, August 17, 2015


Thursday morning started out calm and in routine. Walking to clinic, I felt genuinely excited to see what another day holds. I went to clinic early to restock the pharmacy and prepare for my day. After stocking the pharmacy, several of us were chatting in the exam room, when Mali came running in with little Clerment. Laying him on the bed, she said he is not well. I turned and looked instantly seeing the child was in Respiratory Distress. The child has a history of cardiac issues and is currently awaiting surgery. 

The tension was high as we all waited to see what would happen. Will the child survive for his surgery or not? Just a few weeks earlier we had got word that the first child on the list for cardiac surgery had died. We could not bear the thought of another child dying before he had surgery.

Immediately we tried to stabilize the child. When it had calmed down, Whitney turned to me and said, “Alyssa would you be willing to care for the patient?”

“I will do my best."

I felt so small and insignificant. Everything I tried seemed to be a failed attempt. The outcome did not look good and I knew that an action plan needed to be in place. We warned the mother her son may not make it through the next couple hours. The mother understood. She was very aware of her son's condition. 

Suddenly, I could take in no longer. All the strength I had was drained out of me. I knew that only God could give me the strength. A prayer meeting was called for the situation. The faith of the mother inspired me the most when she kept repeating, “Bondye konnen, Mis, Bondye konnen” (God knows Nurse, God knows.).

After prayer, I knew that God was in control of the situation and I was only a tool in His hand. I am very incapable of doing anything in my own strength. With renewed strength, I continued to hold on the non-breather oxygen mask and monitor the child.

The mother loved her child so much. She clung to him as he desperately tried to breath. As I bathed him and tried to calm him down, she would sing lullabies. The morning dragged into early afternoon with little progress. When in a matter of minutes, he seemed to turn around. He was breathing with little difficulty and was actually smiling at me. Through tears of joy I smiled back as he started laughing and cooing.  The mother was so happy. She immediately asked if he could start eating. I told her to wait until he was a little more stable.

Throughout the day, I continued to check on him. He was progressing with each passing hour. I could not help, but sing praises of thanks  to God for the miracle He had performed.

The next morning during discharge, I was overwhelmed with the greatness of God and how small I am. It's because of His love and compassion that I can be a tool in His hand. 

"Moments like these are what a nurse longs to see."
Please pray for Clerment. He is 16 months awaiting cardiac surgery. Pray that things would work out for surgery soon. 

Mesi Bondye!

~ Mis Alyssa 

P.S. Sorry no pics this time :( 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Patients and Patience

You know the kind of morning when you feel like you spend all your energy just getting up and going? 
Well, this morning was one of those mornings.

"Oh well, tomorrow's Friday." I thought gratefully.   I plodded tiredly out the gate and paused for a second, taking a deep breath in preparation for the day ahead.  The last thing I felt like doing was talking to anyone, but I knew it was inevitable.  

Just a few yards down the trail, I saw a familiar face coming towards me from an adjoining trail.  I couldn't remember how I knew him, but I saw him nod akcnowledingly at me and I immediately felt myself cringe inside.

 I smiled nonchalantly and greeted him with a "Bonjour, como ou ye?" and kept walking, hopeful that I wasn't the person he was headed to see.  But I was.  He quickly caught up with me. "Mis(Nurse), I'm still not better.  I still have the same problem, and I'm just not any better."  

 I was still trying to remember who he was and what his problem had been, so I asked him if he had a rendezvous to see me today.  He pulled out his wrinkled appointment paper to show me. 

 I read the note I had made about his problem, and sighed.  Now I remembered.  He had been complaining of a burning sensation in his stomach that had been going on sometime, and I was disappointed to hear he hadn't improved with the treatment I'd given him.  "Ok, well I'll call you in at the clinic!" I told him, and headed on.

The next person I passed was a middle-aged lady who I felt immediately annoyed to be stopped by, particularly when she leaned close in to my ear and whined quietly, "Mis, I have a really bad infection.  Can you please give me a gift of some medicine for it?"   

I explained that she must first make a dossier, to which she replied that she didn't have money for.  I instructed her to go speak with Fre Direk, since he's the one who deals with people and their payments.  

She agreed, and as she walked on, in a burst of tired frustration I exclaimed out loud, "God, I'm sorry, I don't have enough patience today!  I just don't.  You're gonna have to help me!"

I was slightly encouraged about the day to arrive at clinic and see a very manageable looking number of patients gathered, especially since two of our three Haitian nurses weren't coming.  

As I was talking to Fre Dolph, he asked if I'd heard that one of my patients who had come in last Wednesday had died yesterday.  I was very sadly surprised.  I'd known it was just a matter of time, but he'd been doing better, and I was hopeful that he could still live a long time.

The first time he had come in a few months ago, I didn't know if he'd live longer than a few days.  I asked him if he was afraid to die and he replied, "Oh, Mis!  No, I'm not afraid!  I know I'm going to die, and I'm ready, just waiting for God to come get me!"

The personal sadness I felt knowing I'd never see him come in again was relieved by the assurance that he had been ready to die.   But I still missed him.  

I remembered with a tinge of regret how I'd felt a little pressed for time the last time he had come in, and I wished I had taken more time to talk to him.  I went on consulting patients with that backdrop in mind, finding myself wondering who might be the next person I see for the last time.

Towards the end of clinic, a 31 year old man from Port au Prince was brought to me by his brother in law, Boss Moyiz, who had decided to bring him up to Aylègue where his family is, rather than taking the risk of having him die so far from home.  

I wasn't at all excited about making sense of the bag of supplies and numerous papers he came with from the PAP hospital.  Usually it's easier to start fresh with a patient than to sort through piles of papers and prescriptions and try to understand what tests and treatments have already been done elsewhere.  

I eventually concluded that he likely had Tuberculosis, and was pleased to learn that they had already done that test and should get results back Monday.  

As I sat there thoughtfully tapping my pen, trying to decide on a plan of action, I was quite amused to hear Boss Moyiz casually comment, "Mis Patience.  You are Mis Patience." 

"Me?!?"  I just sat back, looked at him, and laughed out loud.  I recounted to him the start of my day, and how I had run out of patience even before I had made it to the clinic this morning and had to ask God for more!    "Ah, yes, yes! You see?" He said, "We don't have patience in our flesh, but if we ask God for it, he'll give it to us!"

"That's right!" I nodded, still grinning to myself.  Patience is definitely a virtue that God gives us!  A virtue I need a lot of most days.

This is a bit outdated, cause I actually wrote it last Thursday and just never got it posted, but it's still a current glimpse of the reality we live many days.  Yes, maybe we're "missionaries" on the "mission field", but at least for me, more often than not, it feels like God is working on me more than He's working through me.  :]

Anyway, here we are, through another week!  It's been a full one, mostly cause we had three births in two days, meds order to do, and busier clinic days than we had been having.

We've had some other more exciting things going on too, but I think I'll leave them for one of the others to post about sometime. :)

God bless you all!   Please continue to remember us in your prayers!


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Who's In Control?

“ Can you please control the patients?” This a common term used in the clinic when we talk about doing initial vitals on the patients as they arrive.  The other day at clinic, I started pondering the meaning of control. In the English language, it means, having the power to influence or to direct the behaviour of another. A second meaning is to have the power above another. In Creole the word, kontwòl has the same english meanings but also monitoring. This is the context, we use the word. I began thinking the other day I am defiantly not in control in these people’s lives. I am unable to control if they get sick or not but, I am here to monitor their health status. 

An elderly couple having their blood pressure controlled. 

Out of control? Many times in healthcare, we feel out of control but thankfully, God is in control. Friday was a busy clinic day as usual. The benches were packed, many people were waiting to be seen. The day proceeded smoothly Doc came up to do his weekly consultations. 

A woman arrived with a large tumour/hematoma on the side of her face. She was persistent to have it removed. Doc decided to go ahead and see what was going on. The procedure proceeded well until, a highly vascular area was discovered. The blood would not stop coming. Doc and Hans faithfully held pressure, while Whit and I brought more and more gauze. Will the BLEEDING STOP? With much grace, we persistently proceeded, the bleeding needed to stop. Doc quickly stitched it shut to allow the clotting factors to initiate clotting. 

Before the surgery. 

Our surgeon and his assistant. 

The procedure in process. 

In the meantime, while we were working to get the lady stable, Kindra came in and said a cot had arrived. This man had fallen out of a tree. The only visible injury was a open fracture on his right hand. Although, we were unable to determine if there was more extensive internal injuries. While we got him stabilized, he was in and out of consciousness. Hans called various places to make arrangements for the patient, in the end Doc was willing to take him out to town with him.

The open fracture. 

After Doc had left, the lady needed to be stitched up finished. The bleeding had slowed down some although not altogether. Whit and I proceeded to finish stitching the lady. We were thankful for cayenne pepper to initiate clotting. We packed the incision full. I held pressure, while Whit stitched. We had a challenge to get the bleeding stop. Thanks to prayer and support the job got finished. Good work everyone! Even though the situation felt out of our control God was there.

Mesi Bondye! 

~ Alyssa 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

More Happenings

  Sunday evening, we mission staff planned to head up the mountain to Don Weavers place for supper. A man with a large cut on his chest requiring sutures arrived in a timely fashion just before we left. Donavan left with some of the staff leaving Kindra, Mali, David and I to come up on the other rig whenever Mali finished the stitch. Little did I know that it would be 8:30 p.m. by the time I was able to get to Don´s place and eat supper (we had meant to arrive at his place by 6:00).
  After Mali had sewn up the fellow and sent him on his way we left and headed up the mountain, about a 3 1/2 mile trip on the UTV. Before we got to Besace Donavan called and said that someone had been hurt at the soccer game that was going on close to Don Weaver´s place and told us we'd probably get flagged down by them when we came past. Sure enough, as we rounded a corner in the bumpy trail and the soccer field came into view we saw a LARGE crowd gathered on the road in front of us. It was unclear what was going on in the center of the crowd but it seemed like there was active treatment of something being performed there. I finally managed to get through the people enough to see that they had a young soccer player who was yelling his head off stretched out mid air between several of the others who were frantically washing his leg down with soap and water. After some coaxing they released him and let  him lay on the ground so we could check him out. He was complaining of severe pain in his left knee but there were no visible deformities or other signs of a fracture or dislocation. The crowd was so tight and loud we decided to take him back down to the clinic where we could hear ourselves think and give him some pain meds. Mali and I turned around and headed back down to the clinic with the boy and his brother leaving David and Kindra to walk the rest of the way to Don's.
  After we had put the chap in a bed, imobilized his leg and given him a shot for  pain we  headed back up the trail only to have the utv start sputtering about a mile and a half back up the mountain.  Thanks to my stupidity we were out of diesel! After some consultation by phone with Donavan I decided to turn around and coast back down to the mission to get fuel. Had an amazingly fast and quiet trip back down, poured a couple gallons of fuel in the tank, and after another trip up the hill, we finally arrived at Don Weavers place and got some food in our stomachs.
  Michael Rudolph has been coordinating surgical teams from the states for the past  several years and thanks to his efforts and the efforts of the surgeon and other medical  staff who came down to donate their  time, this past week we were able to get surgery done on 15 patients with inguinal hernias that have been coming to our clinic for help. Some of these people have suffered with severe hernias for years because even though the surgery is a relatively simple one that can be performed at many hospitals in Haiti, the costs of getting it done are far beyond what most of these folks are able to afford. The list of guys with hernias needing operations seems to grow longer every week so it was an incredible blessing to see these people finally being able to get help.  The hospital where the team was doing the surgeries was in the little community of La Colline, about an hour west of Ti Goave. Tuesday I took a load of 12 hernia patients along with the daughter of one of them who was to act as a care taker for the rest. It made a total of 14 people squeezed into the landcruiser. Very tight. But no one seemed to care since they were finally headed to get their problems fixed.

Some of the hernia fellows waiting at the door of the hospital to be told where to go after just after we arrived
Yes! yet another surgery being performed. This particular case was a massive hydrocele removal that I was privileged to be able to observe on.
  After we arrived at the hospital in la colline Michael sorted everyone out and I was able to hang out for a while in the operating room and watch the surgeries being done. A very fascinating and interesting operation. Today I took three more patients out and brought nine very happy post surgery patients back with me to ti goave.
Broken tombstones line a rocky gully. Death is an ever present part of daily life for most Haitians as witnessed by the many tombstones scattered through gardens and around houses.
   Somehow it seems from my experience that God has used my time here in Haiti more to train me and whittle off my bad spots than anything else. It seems that more often than not its the other folks here, Haitians and Americans both, who are showing me, most times involuntarily, how proud and unchristlike I am and how much I still need the grace of God in my life rather than me having all the answers for the people I came to minister to. Through all the stresses, discouragements and problems He always comes through. It still amazes me, but it shouldn't come as a surprise because hasn't he said "...I am with you always, even to the end of the age"? Thank you all so much for your prayers and encouragement.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Just a Glimpse...

...of what's been going on recently.  And not so recently, as in since the last time we blogged!  :-0  :-)

Really not so much out of the ordinary has happened here the last while though.  Kin and I both went back to the States for a couple weeks mid June, leaving Hans, Mali, and Alyssa in charge of clinic.  I was back for my brother's and another friends' wedding, and Kin was back to give her mother a surprise welcome home after having been in Austria doing cancer treatment for several months!

I was extra excited about coming back this time, since I didn't have to come alone!  My little sis, Ataley, (who all the Haitians can't believe is bigger than her older sister;) came back to spend a few weeks with me!  

Last Friday she was Dr. Felix's assistant while he did a small surgery to remove a large cyst from a man's head.   

I know, it's kinda gross.  Maybe I should've added a disclaimer to this post.  :). But it was pretty neat to see that huge fatty blob of tissue removed!  :0 :)

We've had a steady number of births the last month too.  I think this was the first of three that our team has done the last couple weeks!   

Well I hope no one was hoping for a more exciting blog post, cause if you can't tell, my inspiration to write it hasn't just been bubbling over...

Maybe next time. ;)

One more thing...I know it sounds trite, but keep serving God wherever you are!  :). He is a GOOD and faithful God!