Monday, October 28, 2013

Angels Unawares

     I really don't know how they look-- Angels unawares. But I think they might look slightly like this sometimes. You know, some days you are having a hard time sensing God's timing and plan. And then, something like this happens. For some reason, it tells you very clearly that God is up there, and that things do not happen by accident with God. Ever. 

   I was walking down to clinic to grab some supplies for a shot we needed to administer Sunday night, and was planning on returning to the house in a few minutes. As I came from one direction, a lady in labor came from the other. 
   I decided I would welcome her in, give her a quick check up, and then run home to tell everyone what was up. Well, it wasn't meant to be. I got quite involved, and asked the one neighbor who had accompanied her into the room to go get a nurse for me. Apparently, something happened, and no nurse was coming. Well, then, before I knew the little angel had time to wait for other nurses. I, for some reason, felt God was right there. I had time enough to get all the supplies I needed, but not enough to worry or stress. 
    And so, I wrapped the little baby up, and went out and asked the noisy children outside the gate if they couldn't please call Mis Whitney. They did, and before I knew it, the troops were present, including Mis Katie, who was too sick to be there.  I had plenty of people to help get everyone comfortable and cozied in for the night. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Multitude of Maggots

     The sun was bright and cheerful this morning as I stood at the clinic door and scanned the crowd of patients outside. My eyes rested on a tiny,white haired granny sitting towards the back. A swarm of insects buzzed around her head; her clothes were filthy and she smelled like infection. And rotten flesh. And something else I couldn't decifer. I flipped back her shirt and tried not to gasp at the protrusion of rotting flesh on her upper back. We took her into the clinic and laid her on an exam table.

     I grabbed gauze and a tweezers and slowly started removing the white globs of matter inside one of the holes. I gasped as a clump as big as a bouncy ball slipped out. It had the texture of a cheese curd... but mind you, it did NOT smell like one. ;) And then, after going back to dig again, I saw the crevice from which I had removed it was writhing with huge maggots. That's when I put on a mask. The smell of rotting flesh, mingled with the feeling of those writhing creatures in the grasp of my tweezers was enough to make me feel a lil woozy.

     The next hour was spent removing those 'clumps' of matter and then making a dive to remove the pocket of maggots underneath. Dolan shone our bright exam light onto the wound, and I saw a whole herd of little heads poke to the surface. Ro and I dumped peroxide and cut away dead flesh and grabbed at maggot heads and tried not to gasp or gross out too loud. ;)

     And I'll add a pic of this precious 2 month old baby boy that came in this morning. His skin was literally flaking off like the scales of a fish, and raw and bleeding under his ears and between his legs. He was so weak he could hardly cry out. We dosed him up with meds, spread cream over his entire little body, and dressed him in clean clothes.

 -Mis Katie

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Life is Good-Especially if...

     I am looking for the Aunt to this baby. I thought the baby was cute...and was already taking a picture of her, when I really read what the shirt said. So if you are related, own up. We are looking for the priviledged AUNT.
     Yesterday we took a little ride out to Bassinguette again. Our dear sick friend Elvie had finally gotten her call to Heaven, and we wanted to visit with the family and attend the burial service.
     I will have a hard time expressing the emotions of our afternoon. You wanted to cry. You wanted to start crying because Elvie's husband was motioning to the tomb outside of their house with an empty, sad set of hands that showed Elvie was going to be put in there. He just wrung his hands and pleaded for hope. His daughter was wailing on a bench nearby, supported by a kind relative. We watched as the drunk husband tramped over to comfort his weeping daughter.
     "Miss Woda," she cried out when I joined her," I won't have a Mama again. She left me." I found myself crying...again.
      And then you needed to dab  your eyes one more time because the one Christian daughter was singing a church song with her head uplifted, eyes closed, and tears streaming down her face. But she had hope. She was bound for heaven. She would see her mother again.
     And then there was Mr. Lamont. We walked down a rustic little trail to find him. He was lying on a bamboo mat, swollen from his waist down. Poor man. He has a huge sore on each of his legs. We are hoping that his friends can carry him to the clinic before too long so we can give him some consistent care and get him back on his feet. If they cannot, we will try to send him meds and bandages to expedite his recovery.
     Tomorrow is another day. Life is good. We know it in our hearts, even if our faces don't show it!



Friday, October 18, 2013

Where Are My Teeth?

     We were driving up the road from Laogane when Fre Daniel met us, telling us that no nurses were in the clinic and a real bad wound had come in.
     In a few minutes, we were sheathed in our scrub tops and hurrying down to see who was there. By the time we got there, Mis Leda was busy dabbing blood. "This boy needs to go to town," she told me. I started praying. The boys were exhausted. They had been on the road all night taking a lady who was seizuring with eclampsia. Only now did they finally get a chance to find some pillows and a bed.
    "God, we just don't need this boy's tongue to keep bleeding," I prayed as we started our clinic day an hour later than usual. "Can't you just make it stop?"
    As Mis Leda continued stitching, the bleeding slowed down. She stitched the hole above his lips. And then, there was the big stitch job on his scalp. Kate says it was one of those deep skull cuts again.
    Precious little man. He didn't cry. The IV was sagely dripping into his arm. His teeth were sitting back up there in the roof of his mouth. And he wasn't even crying. Just trying to hold still. And then the bleeding was STOPPING.
    So after a night in the hospital room, he was still bravely grunting since he couldn't talk. He was blubbering down coffee. I was so excited. His tongue wasn't too bad. But there sat his teeth. Up in the roof of his mouth. Knocked way up. Stuck up there.
    After a while, he was on his way to TiGoave for a dentist... We were happy. But the pregnant lady who walked off is still here.
    So we are wondering if she will run off again. But then again, if she wants to, I guess we can't keep her here. But I think she is back to stay. She only made it to the top of the nearest hill, and then she was begging to come back to bed. So we made up another bed for her.
     I just had to add this little man on to the blog here. He is not blessed with total mental capabilities. But he always is so sweet. He loves to have a little pain medication and some lotion. He just wanted to tell me that he is praying for me. It made my day. Prayers can do that.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I'm Wondering...

What to blog about today?  I think for this time I'm just going to post a few pictures of a young boy that came in this last Friday evening.  His mom said he stepped on a rock.  Poor guy, must have been a sharp one, as you can see!
  It was really neat getting to see how thick the skin was on the bottom of his foot!  :)
 Notice Rho's sterile field in the left of the picture... she's getting ready to start her mending job! :)
She did a great job of cleaning, numbing, and stitching him up! 
Sorry I don't have more to write.  :) 
Things have been really strange around here the last few days without Steve and Shana and the children...   Yesterday afternoon Shana came back up here to the mission to pack for their trip back to the States.   Now this afternoon just as soon as we finish up a few things (this being one of them:) and do some quick packing, the rest of us here are planning to head down the mountain to join them for the night and then drive back up here again early Thursday morning in time for clinic.  
We're so looking forward to spending tonight together again!  Not looking forward to saying goodbye to them for now...  Thank you all who are praying!  We can definitely sense it!   Things are changing- too fast, it seems, but we still have peace, trusting that God is orchestrating all these events! 
And it's very exciting to see how God is using this to touch individuals here!  Please pray especially for Madame Moyiz, the witch doctor...  From things she's been saying, she seems to have a new awareness of her state before God and is seeing her need for salvation, but is afraid of potential opposition.   God is at work!  It's comforting to see that and be assured that He has beautiful purposes for everything He does and allows.   We know that ALL things work together for good...
All for now, I need to skidaddle before I get left behind...:)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Stitch up a Saturday

     It is Saturday....we just put the finishing touch on those orange glazed cinnamon rolls, and then a knock came on the gate. It was Daniel, our gate guard. He said someone had totally broken his head when he fell down the mountain. Katie was on call, so she ran down to access the situation. After a few minutes, the rest of us made our way down, too. If the head was totally broken, it was going to be rough!
    This is what we found...the man had an ugly swollen eye, a gash that reached into his skull, and then a few scrapes on his face. The bad thing was, that he had gotten the cut the evening before.
   As we tried to decide what to do with the situation, we looked down and saw he had a missing leg. Poor man. He had seen his share of woe in life.
     Because of the risk of infection, and the dirty, swollen eye, we felt safer to keep the man overnight, and went home to see if rats had eaten our cinnamon rolls.
     Sunday we did a little check-in on him again. It was so much fun to bequeath him with a pair of crutches so he could get around a little better. Mis Katie did a test run on the crutches herself. She looked happy, but I think the wounded man was in too much pain to enjoy the joke, so we laughed with her.
   We are so anxious for him to come back for a bandage again. Meanwhile we are praying that only good things are happening to his head!


Friday, October 11, 2013

A Heart-Stopping Three O'clock

    I awoke as I heard the radio calling out into the darkness of the night. But it wasn't for me, so I went back to sleep. But not for long.

    "There is a slight emergency at the clinic," Nate said. Katie and I got ready to go out into the darkness. We met Michael in the courtyard.
    "Did Nate tell you what is wrong?" he wondered.
    "No." we said as we trudged toward the gate.
    "We think Steve had either a heart attack or heart dysrhythmia ," he said.
    Kate and I trudged through the mud to the clinic. Our minds were reeling. It didn't feel like a slight emergency, at all.
    "At one point I thought I would have to give him CPR," Michael told us. "But then he came back."
    When we got to the clinic, Nate was already there. The lights were on. "Sorry about the door on the cupboard," he said. He had torn it off to get the pulse oximeter out, just for Steve, because he hadn't remembered his keys. The door hung crookedly now.
     We continued stumbling around finding things we needed for the transport to town. Michael wanted parts for the oxygen tank, things for IV, and other emergency supplies. And then it was time to say good-bye as the crew left for the hospital.
    Steve wanted to talk to everyone and remind us of his love for each of us. It was good to hear his voice, even though we could tell he was short in breath.  We could feel God was with us, and yet we didn't understand what He was up to. We hugged Steve and Shana and then watched the Ambulance bounce out the lane.
    The children stayed here with us. Alex is helping with the pharmacy and other fix-it jobs. Cherie is wondering what is going on, and trying to keep herself happy even if she has an ouchie on her leg, and everything is so wrong in her little world. And, of course,  everyone is tired and praying.
      A lot of Haitian friends are asking about Steve's and praying with us. They are very concerned that Fre Steve, who helps them so much, is so sick. So are we.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thank God for Plumpy' Nut!

     I've been so thankful for the 9 boxes of Plumpy'Nut the last few weeks, donated from an organization in Port au prince! Especially since we had none of our usual Herbalife. Plumpy'Nut is a creamy, peanut-buttery, protein-packed substance formulated especially for children with Protein Energy Malnutrition; and all my little people on the malnutrition program LOVE it! I rip open a corner and put it in their hands and a few seconds later look up to see a delighted little face... smeared with Plumy'nut.

      The other day I was called outside to see a patient and tried not to gasp as I saw the emaciated form of a little 2 year old. His bones stuck sharply out of his body and his little legs were oozing with pressure sores due to being so tight with fluid. I quickly swept the thermometer across his forehead. My eyes widened when I saw the temperature reading: 106.5. I quickly made up a bed in the hospital room, and all that day and through the night we bathed him with cool compresses and dribbled fluid replacement into his mouth. He moaned and cried out weakly... but I was so thankful to hear him swallow the fluid and his meds and keep them down. Then, I found out he LOVED Plumpy' nut. He ate a whole sachet down, almost desperately. That night, the fever broke. I thanked God. He sat up and ate a little bean sauce. With a few more questions we found out his father has TB. Thank God for pastor Levi who 'happened' by and could take him out to Ti Gauve for testing. I bathed him one last time and packed a few Plumpy' Nut in his bag. Please pray for little Makenlove.

 ...And can't help but add an updated photo of the little Sam boy. He's gaining so well. After 6 months we'll see about the operation for his little club-feet.

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Beautiful Day...

What a beautiful Monday afternoon!  It's felt so Fall-ish here lately, making me antsy to rake leaves or winterize a garden, though I'm quite certain we have no worries of snow in the forecast here to prepare for...:) 

Last Friday seemed especially gorgeous- strikingly green foliage against such a blue sky... 
A perfect day to get out and make a house call, which was what we were headed off to do!
Often on Fridays, Dr. Felix comes up from Ti Goave to help with more special medical cases at the clinic, and like on this occasion, a special house call case. 
You might remember other fairly recent posts about Elvie, the older lady who Dr. Felix has performed several paracentesis' on to remove all the fluid buildup from her stomach.
 The last couple times some of us had visited her, she was notably much worse.  Her stomach was swollen full of fluid again, and the rest of her body shrunken to almost nothing with severe dehydration and starvation. 
So this time Glendon, Miss Leda, Rhoda, and I left early afternoon right after clinic to make another trip to visit her, this time with the Dr, to remove the fluid once more; making her last few days as comfortable as we can...
We drove the gator to Bassinguette, where we parked it and hiked the rest of the rocky, winding trail down the mountain to her house.  Every time we walk into her house, it amazes me to see that she's still alive.  She must be well under 100 lb now; my hand easily fits around her upper arm.  But there she was still lying on her bed of blankets on the floor, and as always, greeting us with a very weary but peaceful smile. 
After Rhoda and I gently lifted her frail body up and laid her on the bed, Mis Leda put an IV in her arm, and then Dr. Felix performed the paracentesis. 
He drained about 4,000ml off this time.  A lot, but not all that there was.  He stopped cause of how much pain she was in.  She kept groaning and crying out things like, "Jesus, help!  Deliver me from my misery.  Don't give me any more breath.  Let me die!  Jesus, Jesus!"  
It's very sad to see someone suffer like that, but I found myself asking God with her that He would take her home quickly.  Jesus is her only joy, heaven her only hope. 
Life isn't perfect, but it has so many beautiful things that we enjoy; friendships, music, nature, and endless simple pleasures that make us happy just to be alive.  But when you see someone at the end of their life, wasting away in incredible pain, not able to enjoy any more of the things we value so much now, it really puts life-purpose in perspective.
    It's made me ask myself more often lately, "What am I living for?"  I often find myself living with selfish desires and purposes, and those are revealed when they're thwarted and I find out that my joy is circumstantial.  I'm amazed at how easily I forget to keep my eyes on Jesus!  When He consumes my thoughts, He becomes my deepest desire, and the pleasures of life become secondary.  With or without them, the joy in knowing Jesus, and the hope of an eternity with Him is what truly makes life beautiful!

On our hike back up the mountain, the Dr and Mis Leda were getting tired, so they stopped on the trail overlooking a house and started calling down to the few people there asking what they had for food. 
They didn't have bananas or chicken, but they did have a stick of sugarcane, which an older man soon brought up for them.  Dr. Felix used it for a walking stick til we got back to Bassinguette, where we met another man with a machete who cut it into four sticks for us.  I really enjoy that aspect of life here... I mean, not the sugarcane (though I've enjoyed my fair share of that too:), but the neighborly way of sharing and helping each other like that. 

All for now,

Saturday, October 5, 2013

House Calls!

The last few weeks Ro and I have had the joy of hiking up and up the mountains to check on a few of our patients. The bright BLUE of the skies, the splendor of the mountains, and the fresh breeze is a wonderful stress release after a busy clinic morning. Sometimes we just stop to sit in the sun and drink in the beauty. Cheerful greetings call from here and there, and sometimes we stop to chat with a friend. They run to find us chairs and often bring out sweet coconut candy and bread.

  Blind Madam Jill lives way up in a little cleft in the mountains. She has no husband and no children. She sits all alone on the porch of her little stone house with her walking stick beside her. Naughty children ransack her house and steal everything nice she has. Every time we come around the corner in the path I see her face break into a smile as she hears our voices.

 This grandma sits on a bed in her tiny little room and we go to check her blood pressure and edema...reminding her to get up and walk around once in a while and take her meds.

 Madam Pepe cries out in pain night and day. She has diabetes and hypertension and so much pain...likely from diabetic neuropathy.

 It's always sobering to me to see their happiness with such a small gift of our time. As we care for their physical sicknesses, checking BP and blood sugars and pain levels, I pray we might all the more touch their hearts with Jesus' comfort and love...that as we stoop to go out those dingy doorways we might leave their dark little rooms with a ray of cheer and hope.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

And what can we do?

     The other week there was a man who came into clinic with severe pain in his stomach, dehydration and some vomiting. We admitted him and observed him, giving him ORS and an IV. His pain moved from his stomach to his chest, to his upper back, and then finally his lower back. It was very curious, because he didn't have a fever, only this pain. We considered taking him out to Ti Goave for some tests, and decided to wait another day and observe him more.

     The next morning he seemed about the same: the pain hadn't changed much, except he was having pain in his chest again. The nurses had been checking him for heart failure, and suddenly his lungs began filling with fluid. The decision was made to immediately take him out to the hospital in town. As we prepared the vehicle, his oxygen readings began to drop; Anita grabbed an oxygen mask and started the flow of air. Thankfully his O2 readings started to return to normal, but he kept trying to take the mask off; he felt like it was suffocating him, not realizing it was the only thing keeping him alive.

     His condition was worsening, so we rushed down to the clinic with Steve's Bobcat. Hooking up the portable oxygen tank, we transferred him into the back of the machine, along with his brother, who would help hold him during the hour and a half trip. Getting everything in place, Steve and I took off down the road.

     What happened on that trip I will never forget; and I expect it will forever be woven into the tapestry of my remembrance...

     We bumped and bounced down the trail, finding that happy-medium between speed (for the urgency of the situation), and caution (for the comfort and wellbeing of our patient). We went through Grandfour, ascended the mountain towards Mólye and stopped briefly to readjust the man's oxygen mask. His breathing was getting worse and he didn't look good at all. We continued on, passing through the market (which was teeming with people, since it was market day) and mounted up the next hill. Before we got much further, our passenger said he needed to readjust his hold on his brother. We stopped and I decided to check the patient's vitals; as we hopped off, the brother began calling his sibling's name, shaking him and trying to get a response. The patient wasn't moving, so I checked his pulse- it was weak, but still present. His unconsciousness was accompanied by sudden, shallow breaths and beads of sweat on his face.

     It is difficult to describe what happened next... how much to write? I'm not sure, but let it suffice to say that as quickly as it started, it was all over; he gasped, his eyes rolled up, and his pulse ceased... I sat there, not really in shock, but just very sobered at the reality of what we had just witnessed: the passing of a soul from the body into eternity. What eternity, I don't know for certain; except we know his family weren't known as Christians, so it is probably safe to say it was a Christ-less one. So, the reality of it all came crashing down pretty hard on my heart. I have only seen one other death here at the clinic, so it was all a new experience for me.

     As it was all soaking in, Steve was asking if there was anything we could do- CPR, another mask, etc. I replied that we couldn't- I had checked his lungs and they were completely filled with fluids; there was nothing we could do with the limited equipment and experience we had with us. He had died of suffocation by the fluid in his lungs, probably brought on by heart failure- we'll probably never really know exactly, but that's our best guess. And what can we do? When a soul is called to its forever resting place, who is it that can beckon it back?

     Suddenly the brother realized his kin had passed away and lost complete control of himself: he began screaming, crying, flailing around. We covered up the body with a sheet and decided to take him back to his home. Unfortunately that meant going back through the market; the market packed with people, curious onlookers. The brother had pulled out his phone and was calling someone.

     Steve told me to get in the back of the machine and help hold the body, since the brother was in no condition to be of much help. As we turned around and moved downhill again, people around us (understanding what had occurred) began wailing and screaming. A relative of the family stopped us and offered to take the brother's place holding the body. We acquiesced, seeing how pathetic of a condition the brother had deteriorated into. He stumbled off the machine, screaming and and wailing, barely able to control himself. The relative sat in the back with me and we moved on. Passing through market, we discovered the brother must've called someone there, because everyone knew what had happened.

     Never before in my life have I heard such screaming, such sound, coming from so many people all at the same time. The whole market, with probably over a thousand people milling around, was howling and screaming. We drove through, the crowd parting before us as we descended. We turned off onto a side road and went down the mountain, further away from the market and away from the clamorous masses. As we drove by, people would see us in the back, holding the body, and begin to cry.

     At last, we arrived at the man's house. His wife and a few children were there; they also joined in the dissonance of wailing and weeping. How sad it is to arrive at a long eternity, without Christ, as it waits in foreboding silence, solemnly receiving the passenger of death, to usher him into that place where there is no repentance, there is no second chance, and there is no hope... only a place of eternally sealed verdict, being met out by the just and perfect command of the Prime Originator, the Creator God...

     While we travelled back to the mission my mind and heart were pretty full... I had been planning on talking with the patient about his soul once we were out in town; but now it was too late. As we talked about it later, we all agreed that it was a lesson to be learned- that if you have an opportunity to speak and you feel God moving on your heart, take it. It might be too late, before you know it.

     So ends this account. You know, we have lots of really good experiences here at the clinic- babies being born, cuts being stitched up and healed, sicknesses treated and cured; but sometimes there's a very sobering case in which we're reminded of the brevity of life, the fragility of our existence, and the reason why we're here.

     Pray for us, that in ministering, we could be effective ministers of the Gospel and the physical needs each day; that we would be so filled with the Spirit of God that we'd be as His very own presence here. Thank you for your support! God bless you all!


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

It's a doll!

   They were eating cake. It was a birthday party. But not everyone was sitting there laughing.              Because a little baby had come in weighing  2lb. 3oz. near the end of clinic. He was adorable, but not well. He was only about 96 degrees, and draining a strange yellow-green phlemn out of his nostrils. At times, his face took on a distressed blue look. It was not a good time to relax and eat cake and pates. We were holding oxygen up to the little face, and suctioning out his nose by times with the electric suction and a tiny IV catheter tip.....and we were praying. And the others kept on eating.

    After a bit of stabilizing was done, we sent the baby out to a hospital in town for further care.

    And, but, the birthday party is still worth mentioning. Our faithful office man, Fre Direk, had a birthday this week. And our cleaning lady has one on Saturday. They were so happy. Shana makes wonderful food and they would not be caught missing it on purpose. So, after they were done eating, the party people would wander in to have a look at the little doll baby and cluck their tongues, and shake their heads, like people do, when they see a fine work of art in miniature.

    Our little head boy from Sunday, a week ago, came in today, after clinic was closed, to get his stitches out. Two other little codgers were with him, and that was the extent of my support group. While he screamed and kicked, I dove for the stitches with the scissors, and thanks to God,along with those strong little friend's hands to clamp him down,  was able to get them out without injuring the little cutie any further.
    Now it is almost night. But around here, that does not necessarily mean the story is over yet. Maybe there will be another knock on the gate at 4:00 like there was this morning. But that is another story....
   -Mis Woda

Update from Marla

This post is written by Marla, almost a month ago and I made a mistake and didn’t get it posted. I’m sorry. Enjoy her words almost a month l...