Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Big "C" Word

CHOLERA. 
I was looking forward to being on call at the clinic for the weekend.   I assumed that with all the rain that we've been getting, it wouldn't be too busy and I could get some other little things done.  I got started about 8:30 Saturday morning bandaging several return patients and seeing a couple others.  Marcile came down to restock the pharmacy.  "Maybe today I can actually help her!", I thought.  She asked if I was having a busy morning.  "Oh, no, not really!  Just a few people, nothing serious." was my reply.    Minutes later, Mali walked in to get some meds from the pharmacy, and informed me that a cot had just been carried in with a very sick-looking boy on it.     I quickly stuffed my hands into some gloves and stepped outside to find just what she said; a very sick boy.  The crowd that carried him told me that he had had watery diarrhea since the evening before, but that there was too much rain to bring him sooner.   His altered level of consciousness and deeply sunken eyes showed how extremely dehydrated he already was!  I'd never personally had a patient with cholera before, but I remembered hearing about the certain smell it has, and I was sure that what I was smelling had to be that certain smell!  We usually send cholera patients to another small clinic about 10 minutes away that has a cholera center, but they've been closed recently, so we made a quick decision to put him on a cot in the shack in front of the clinic.  I ran to get everything for an IV.   Meanwhile Fre Daniel got on the ball spraying everything and everyone down with Clorox water.   In the process of getting the boy carried up to the shack, Fre Noas came into the shack where I was setting up and grabbed my arm saying, "Mis Whitney, come quickly! I think maybe he died, I don't know!"   I ran out where they'd set him down just outside, and heard his gurgling respirations.  "He's still alive!  Now carry him in fast!" I told them.   As soon as we got him propped on the cot, Mali and I started the desperate search for a vein that looked good enough for an IV.  
He seemed to drift in and out of consciousness as we tried and tried again for a good vein.  "Mali, do you feel like you can do this better right now?  My hands are shaking too much, and I think I could've gotten one in by now if they weren't."  But she encouraged me on, and again we prayed as I hopefully tried another vein, only to have it blow again.   We radioed Rho down at that point, and she came and calmly donned gloves to try her IV skills on the other arm while I kept searching for a good vein on his first arm.  Mali spotted a better looking vein further up his arm and offered to try it, which I thankfully agreed to.  My hands were still shaking.   We all thanked God when we heard her say, "I'm in!" and saw the IV fluid dripping into his body as fast as it could go!   Then Rho got one running in the other arm.   It didn't take long before he visibly began improving, and I started to relax.  I had felt such a sense of responsibility to help him that it almost made me panic, and I was very grateful for the teamwork of the other girls pitching in!  I think Marcile must have felt like she'd ran a mile by the time she got done fetching everything we needed from the clinic to the shack! :)  Anyway, now over a dozen liters of fluid and four gallons of diarrhea later, sixteen year old Onel should get to go home tomorrow!   This morning I took his IV out and left him with a liter of pedialyte to drink.   When I came back to find he hadn't drank much, I told him that if he didn't force himself to drink, I'd have to come put another IV in.  "I'll drink later, after awhile." he'd say, and put his arm over his mouth.  I hovered over his face with a capful of fluid, telling him he'd better open his mouth or I would dump it on his face.    He told me, with a stubborn smirk, to dump it on his face.  :)   This evening when I checked on him, again I told him that if he didn't force himself to drink more, than I'd have to force him to, and again he covered his mouth and turned his head away.   I told him that if he doesn't drink enough, he could get seriously sick again.   He told me he's not sick anymore, so I said, "Ok, then you can go home now."   Well, he didn't think he was quite that well!  And when I inquired, he affirmed that he did still have a lot of diarrhea, but still he insisted he would drink more later.   When I again held the capful of fluid to his mouth and told him to open up, he mumbled that he couldn't cause his mouth had a problem.   
I asked, "What problem does it have?"  
"I can't open it." was his reason.  "Oh but look, you can open it to talk!" I pointed out, at which he shut his mouth tightly and started talking like that.   Hiding my own smirking smile, I offered one more solution; "I'll help you open your mouth then!"  That didn't sound like help to him.  Finally I just laughed and told him if he's well enough to be that naughty, he's well enough to go home.  :)
I waited to post this til this morning so I could get this photo of him...looking much better! :)   We're in a bit of a difficult position with the Bases hospital being closed, cause we aren't really set up to open a cholera center here should there be a bunch more coming, so please pray that there won't be!  Have a blessed day!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sunday-On Call!

( Hello, everyone! You guessed it. A lot of visitors using our Internet, and now you won't get to hear from our world very often, until things are back to normal.)
    I will try to give you a quick peak,and hopefully, the internet will be nice for a few minutes, here.
    We have had some interesting road trips. By foot, or by vehicle...either works.
     One Sunday a friend asked us to pick up their cousin with the machine. We decided that Christ would have us do that, even though it was a Sunday- our theoretical Day of Rest.
    "It's not far," our friend assured us.
     Our machine drove and drove, until we hit too many rocks to continue. Then we stopped our machine, got out, and walked. I think we walked for at least 45 minutes down a very steep, curvy, hot trail. ?
    "So it's not far?"
    "We are going to need a helicopter to get this person back out," we joked, as the sweat ran down our bodies. Hans Hertzler, our newest prospective team member was comparing his medical run to a normal medical call in his practice in the States. "It's not the same," he chuckled.
    As we arrived at our patient's house, we realized that the family was still trying to concoct a cot to carry the patient on. Now that was fun.



    "Bring me a hammer."
     "OH, where are the nails? Get me a rope."
     "Hurry. Hey, that's crooked."
     Meanwhile, the patient was looking fearfully on. Her breath was coming a bit labored, which seemed to have something to do with diminished activity in her left lower lung. We were thankful that her stats were holding fairly normal, because it didn't look like we were going anywhere quickly, that much we knew.
     After the contraption of a cot/chair was successfully finished and inspected by the group, we headed up the mountain, where we left the lady in the hands of her cousin overnight.
    The next day we did more follow-up work, testing, and just waiting to see how her meds would work if she took them like they were supposed to be taken. Her family requested that we could help her to town where she could get more extensive testing and health care.



     Today some of our troops are out on a medical follow-up run in Terre Rouge. This patient fell and broke his back, after which he was transported to TiGoave. After a very painful ride to town on an improvised "road cot" bed, we were able to load him into an ambulance for transport to Port. He returned to his home in the mountains without a cast on his broken back.
     This led us to go to his house, create an improvised cast, and try to keep his digestive system working, even though his body is not responsive below his waist. You can pray for this young husband and father as he faces his stark future without the hope of ever walking again.
    Have a good week. I just want to rejoice in what God can do. The battle is His....which makes me almost tell another story about a 7 year old girl who God delivered from a spiritual-based sickness last night. But there are a million more stories, too. And most of them make more sense if you are here to meet the main characters. God bless your week. Rhoda for the Ahlege Team
   



Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Story of Tuesday

It's Saturday again!  Let me think back a few days to Tuesday...
We had a fairly normal clinic day, a lot lower-key of a day compared to Monday, but still enough to keep us running.   We figured we saw around 90 people Monday, 16 of them being pregnant ladies which was what kept me busy most the time!  Tuesday we saw around 75 people, a little more normal, but still quite a few!  :)

The day started out with a guy knocking on the gate around 8:30, informing us that a sick person had been brought into the clinic.   I was on call for the day, so I hurried down to the clinic with him to investigate.  I thought I understood him tell me it was a sick baby, but when I got down there I was surprised to find an elderly lady and I realized that he had told me that she was like a baby cause she couldn't talk.  

Her blood pressure was 230/130, and she couldn't walk or talk.  She had classic stroke symptoms; one sided drooping of the mouth and one completely limp side of her body.   We addressed her blood pressure right away and monitored her vitals closely the rest of the day.    It got easier for her to talk as the day went on, and by the afternoon they wanted to take her home, but we kept her for the night and let them go the next day when her blood pressure was more controlled.

The rest of our day went well, and just as we were closing around 2:00, a young guy was brought in that had the fever and was dehydrated, so I put him on an IV.    He surprised me with how much English he spoke!  I had to wonder how much he might have overheard of the semi-personal conversation Rho and I had had earlier! :)  

 Just as I finished sending him home and taking the stroke patients' vitals again, Mali came running in and told me that there were two injured guys who had been building something like a rock/cement ceiling, and it fell in on them.   The one had just walked in with the help of a couple friends, and the other was down the trail a ways being carried in on a stretcher.

 I was glad Marcile had just come down to the clinic too, and we called Rho right away too since there were two patients and we didn't know how serious they'd be.   Mali and Marcile took charge of the first guy, who had a wound on the back of his head and was pretty sore, but thankfully not hurt more seriously.  

The second guy arrived shortly, along with a crowd of family, friends, and onlookers.   He came in lying on his belly, covered with a white sheet.  I didn't see any signs of bleeding, and he was fully responsive.  I was going to have them move him to the bed in the emergency room until I pulled back the sheet and saw his back!  I had a sinking feeling that he would never walk again.  His middle back looked distorted and was majorly swollen.  He couldn't feel a thing from his waist down.  We decided to put him, stretcher and all, on the bed.   We applied ice packs and gave him a pain pill right away, but that was all we could do.  Rho arrived and talked to him about the Lord, asking him if he was born again.  He said he was.  We were pretty concerned about the possibility of any internal bleeding putting him into shock, so we kept a close eye on his vitals.  We were relieved to see only stable vitals, but still quite worried for the guy.

We started making plans to transport him to the Ti Guave hospital, but Donny was on his way back from Port (picking up a group from the airport) and Grandpa was the only guy around.  He had just gotten back from a long day in town himself, but he insisted on being a big blessing and driving the guy out for us!   Mali and Marcile kindly offered to stay and take care of the other patients, so Rho and I could go along. 

It took us awhile to figure out how to transport him, since of course we wanted him to move as little as possible.  We got him strapped in on the back of the gator, and then Rho and I rode behind to help hold him.   The rugged trail made it impossible to keep him perfectly still, but thankfully he seemed relatively comfortable and hardly cried out at all. 

When we got to the hospital, we ran into another dilemma cause the hospital wouldn't accept him there, but long story short, they finally put him on an ambulance for us and sent him to a bigger hospital.  After that we met up with Donny and the crew (Julien and Janelle Hege, their cousin Joel, Darwin, Paul Lapp, and Hans Hertzler) and traveled together back home.  

We've had a lot of good full days like that this week!  Yay for a lower-key Saturday!  :)   Rho just came in and said two laboring women showed up at the clinic, so that'll likely key up our afternoon a little!   We were just discussing yesterday how long it's been since we've had a birth, wondering when we're going to get one of those knocks in the middle of the night, so we're happy they're coming so early on a Saturday...:)   

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Clorox Kills-Jesus Saves

     We had just jumped out of bed. Our gardener came, a bit agitated, and told us that a friend had drunk Clorox. Mali ran and grabbed the hospital cot, so that they could bring the lady the rest of the way to the hospital. We threw ourselves somewhat together, and headed out the door...
    When Christela, our patient arrived, her mouth was clamped shut, and she was "out cold". 
     Our IV insertion was a bit difficult, but we finally got one in. We weren't having success pulling her teeth apart, so we got prepared to send her out to town. We kept asking her why she was crying, but she couldn't say. 
    Her family arrived one by one, and then her husband. The story continued to unfold. This morning, Christela's father-in-law spoke terrible things to her.That did it. That was too much for Christela. The next thing the world knew, Christela was lying down with a Clorox/Klerin bottle beside her.


    About an hour later, her husband returned from feeding his animals, found the bottle, and hurried to the hospital. He was clutching the bottle in his hand, pacing the tile emergency room floor, telling the story, while we worked over her body.
   Brother Daniel prayed a prayer over the bed of the invalid, and then we hoisted her onto the waiting machine. Was it Good-bye forever to Christela?
    When Donovan was about in town, Christela threw up. Oh, thank you, God! Donovan turned around and came home. Christela was now talking. Mali spent awhile talking with her and she said she would like to pray.
    Christela prayed the Believer's Prayer, but she is still very weak, and seems depressed. We hope to visit her tomorrow, and keep praying for her, that she could be a light in her dark family. 
     If Christela's story had ended in death, only God knows where the killing would have stopped. These kinds of things show what God can do when He performs a miracle through love and prayer. I praise the Lord for the chance that He is giving this family today, and I hope that Christela begins a chain of life and hope, instead of the Hate and Death that Satan intended. 
     (Just a note of interest...before we sent Christela out to town, our local witch doctor swept in, spent a bit of time over the bed, and then left. I really feel God wants to show His power in this situation, and I rejoice in the God that we serve.)
     Shortly after our day commenced with normal consultations, we had a little girl walk in with a finger about cut off. We noticed a piece of bone in the piece that was about to fall off, so we cut that out, and stitched her up. With antibiotics, a small splint, and, the beautiful healing power of the Lord, we hope for the best. 
     God bless your night. Let's keep strong for God!  Rhoda and the Ahlege Team
    
    

Monday, September 1, 2014

Sugar Highs and Rainy Skies

Have we written about Monique?  Or maybe you remember Alexi, the man that died a few weeks ago?  She is his older sister, 33 years old.  
When she first came to the clinic a couple weeks ago looking like little more than a skin-covered skeleton, Rho asked her if she was a Christian, and she said that she had been but that she had left the Lord.   Rho asked her if she wanted to return, and she said she wanted to pray right away! 
She has such a peaceful countenance now.  I always enjoy seeing her smile when she comes.  
She's s'posed to come every day for an insulin shot cause she has terribly high blood sugar.  So high that our little reader, which stops reading at 500, often just says HI when we check her sugar levels!   
The problem has been that she's too weak to walk here, and she can only come if they can find an animal for her to ride, which isn't usually every day.  But we're excited cause yesterday one of her cousins who lives close by her said she'd be willing to give her the shot every day!  

Last week we had a mini vacation due to a rainy spell when hardly any patients dared to venture down the slippery trails to come to the clinic.  
The first day the sun shined again, a small crowd of brave people tried the trails, one of which came needing stitches from falling.  Those trails were just a little too slick!

Another stich job the same morning!  This guy, Aneol, misplaced his machete a little and ended up with a gash on his anterior wrist...fairly easy fix with ten stitches!

We enjoyed having extra time to do some deep-cleaning at the clinic that we rarely find time to do, and planning some more "relaxation-al" things.   Like Tuesday evening when we had our Haitian nurses down and made a special Haitian supper together...:)

Our vacation ended the next day when the sun came out again, but we were ready to get back to work and see our patients again!  This week looks like it'll be extra busy cause two of our three Haitian nurses left for the week.     Please keep praying for the Haitians here, and also for us working here at the mission.  It can be overwhelming and tiring at times, finding the grace to give to others day after day when you feel empty yourself.  I've been very aware lately of the powers of darkness attacking in my own life, but also of the reality of God's saving grace.  And I don't say 'saving grace' because it's the thing you say, it has saved and continues to save my life in Christ.  I realize that for all of us living as Christians, our spiritual victory lies in simply believing the promises of God.  And sometimes it's a constant battle, choosing to resist the lies and doubts that Satan would love for us to believe, but God's grace is even more constant!   And so...we press on the upward way!  :)