Friday, February 27, 2015

Cholera Again

    Wednesday afternoon Mali, Whitney, me, and a kindly, elderly deacon from the church here took a little trip up the mountain to visit several sick and dying people at their houses. We parked our UTV on the road at the farthest point that we were able to drive to, grabbed our medical bag and started up the trail through the rocky, yet lush and green Haitian countryside. The narrow, muddy trail wound through green patches of young bean plants and past tidy little stone houses shaded by groves of fruit and nut trees. Nores, the Haitian brother that was with us, knew of an elderly lady who was shut up in her house and wasn't in the best of health and so he led the way to where she lived. We arrived to find a friendly  
I had to snap this picture of Nores on the trail ahead of us.
granny who claimed she had been born in 1908. Her family verified that she actually was that old. I don't know if that is possible but she seemed like she was still mentally with it and she was consistent with her figures. We checked her out and gave her gave her some appropriate medicine. The next stop was a 23 year old boy who had had a stroke several weeks earlier. It was wonderfully encouraging to see how he was beginning to use his right leg again and was actually starting to be able to walk around his house. We instructed him and his family on exercising the full range of motion on his right arm and leg to prevent contractures due to lack of use. They were very attentive and promised that they would keep doing the things that we had told them to do. We made one more stop at a house where a middle aged lady with what appeared to be advanced liver disease lived. At each one of these places Nores would lead in several Creole songs and pray with the people. Sometimes it seems that just the simple act of visiting someone and praying with them means far more to the people here than any amount of medical expertise and capabilities.
Several tombstones in the late afternoon light. A familiar sight in the Haitian countryside

  On other news, we had a lady come into the clinic with cholera about a week and a half ago. We put her in the little stone building that sits next to the clinic to help prevent the spread of the disease to our other patients. This lady's family, which included children, aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces, were NOT cooperative with our instructions about staying clear of where she was at. Well, to make a long story short, a relative of hers, a powerfully built young man, was brought in on a cot Wednesday evening with the characteristic watery diarrhea and dehydration of a cholera patient. He still hadn't recovered fully yet when this morning (Friday) at 4:00 another relative was brought in with the same thing. We did the usual procedure of IV fluids and antibiotics and we reinforced a strict quarantine on the little shed. Several hours later I had barely finished putting up caution tape ( as a visual reminder and obvious line to stay behind) when a nine year old boy ( from the same extended family ) was brought in on a cot with obvious cholera symptoms. We currently don't have the facilities to handle a large scale outbreak so we are hoping and praying that the three patients we now have in the little shed will be the last ones we get for now. The Haitian Red Cross came by today to investigate and try to help in educating the people involved on how to prevent transmission of the bacteria and to look for a possible source such as a contaminated water spigot where it could be originating.
the shed which is our current "cholera clinic"

  We keep having all the normal day to day challenges like trying to decide what to do with the many patients that come to our clinic requiring further treatment then what we can provide. Or, for me, trying to do a physical assessment and history taking on a patient while only being able to communicate on an approximately 5 year old level due to my still somewhat limited knowledge of the language. The beautiful thing is, that every time we feel like we can't take one more problem, somehow when that problem comes God is always comes through to provide the extra strength or patience needed to deal with it.

                He is still victorious!

Monday, February 23, 2015

On Classes, Crackers, and Farewells

Last week was not terrifically busy if you go by the number of patients that we were seeing each day. We did, however, feel like we were running nearly non-stop. Let me explain.

Brian Eveleth, our stateside clinic director arrived last Monday along with his daughter Jacinda, and a trio of girls from Ohio among which was a RN to help out for the week at clinic. Brian came to spend a week having afternoon classes with the clinic staff, and just connecting a bit with the clinic to better ascertain our needs and where we can improve our care here.

Every afternoon we hurried home as soon as clinic wrapped up, took a quick lunch break, then headed back down to clinic to further our education. We'd like to give a big shout-out to Brian for putting hours of research into his classes, for taking the time to come down, and for the many goodies that he brought us - including, but not limited to, a rather largish container of animal crackers that we may or may not have already nearly finished off. :o)

It feels like we've had a lot going on at clinic after hours lately...probably mostly due to a few people that we've had staying down there most of the week. Our little old poppy with the very large bedsore is still here, and has been joined by a recovering cholera/possibly-typhoid patient and a woman with extremely high blood pressure that's been just a bit of a mystery to us...we aren't exactly sure what's been going on in her body, but it isn't healthy.

And, on top of it all, preparing our hearts to bid our beloved pharmacist Marcille Godspeed as she leaves for the States along with her parents who came with the other group.  She has been such a blessing and bright spot in our lives that we find ourselves reluctant to release her, but we know that she needs to follow God's calling in her life, even if it's not exactly where we might prefer her.  

We will actually be saying goodbye to Donny and Thea Monday morning, too, as they are traveling home for a couple months due to some complications that came up with Thea's pregnancy.  Lord willing, they will be back soon, bringing along a little baby for us to spoil rotten, but saying goodbye to people that you are very attached to is still difficult, even if it is just for a short time....

This week has been busy, and we all breathed sighs of relief when Friday afternoon rolled around and we locked the clinic up for the evening....but there are always bright spots...

-Watching the little old neighbor man's face light up when I handed him my phone with music playing on it to listen to while I did a bandage job....he's blind, but loves music passionately.

-Cleaning a little old grandma's house that reeked and seeing how happy she was to have it smell good again (she too, is blind).

-Seeing new skin that gets more beautiful every day on a burn that one of our regular bandage guys (St. Luke, for those who know him) is recovering from.

-Walking into clinic in the morning and hearing the chorus of replies to my "bonjour!"

Thank you for reading, caring, and praying....have a wonderful week.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Somebody is Watching

...Always, always  watching.

When someone takes something that belongs to us - everyone watches with baited breath to see what we will do.  Become angry?  Kill someone?  Give up and go home?

When the naughty little blood pressure patients don't respect the nurses, the other patients eagerly lean forward - what are the white nurses going to do?  Yell?  Scream?  Call them names?

When Saint Luke doesn't do what we ask him to (yet again).

When I ask the Haitian nurse who is on call tomorrow to please give a much-needed shot in the morning, and then ask if she's ok with it and she replies with, "No.  She can come Sunday."

When the young man who I just did a bandage job on tells me that he is going to go cut the girl who had thrown a block at him.

When someone sneaks a phone in and plugs it in to charge in the hospital room...which everyone knows is off limits.

When a latecomer tries to jump to the front of the line.

When someone tells us that she wants to abort her baby.

Sometimes I think that it's our reactions in times like these that tells people the real reason we are here.  Is it what Christ's would be?


Four little letters that we see so often that we seem to forget to seriously ask it in every situation in our lives.  It's become simply something that you see on a person's bracelet or an occasional bumper sticker, and we no longer think about the actual question.

What would Jesus do?


Thank you all for your prayers.

I know we talk about it in most blogs, but do y'all realize how much we need them?  We are being placed in situations each day that we ourselves are not prepared for.  We don't have the training.  We don't have the experience.  We feel very unqualified for the roles we are here to fill.

We can't do it alone.

Our hands are physically laboring here in Haiti, but it's y'all and your prayer support that enable these hands.

Know that you are much appreciated.


Clinic is....Clinic.  Nothing too crazy or out of the ordinary going on right now.

We still have the little old grandpa with the bedsore that we are bandaging twice a day.  We are currently trying a novel new treatment suggested by Alyssa, a visiting RN.  We clean it well each morning and evening, then cram as much sugar into it as we can.  We snicker to ourselves about how this must be "sweetening him up."  But, amazingly, the sugar seems to be absorbing the excessive amount of fluid that used to fill his ulcer, and we are beginning to see pink and healthy looking flesh again.

A woman came in this afternoon who had had a C-section in Grand Graove a month ago - and she still had her stitches in.  The skin had already started to grow over some of them, so we had to use a scalpel to get them out, which caused the poor dear no small amount of pain.  We were both saying "Merci Jezi" when I pulled the last one out; I hate having to hurt sweet people.  Not that I enjoy hurting un-sweet people - I don't. :o)


Well, I had forgotten that I was supposed to blog today until we almost ready for supper, so I'm afraid that this is a post that feels rather unfinished to me.  And I have no pictures for you.  I'm sorry.  I will try to do better next time, honest. :o)

God bless each on of y'all in your respective corners of the world.


Monday, February 2, 2015

Greenbacks and pennies

    "Good-morning!" It is Monday. After a couple days of rain, it is so exciting to see the sunshine. We feel like getting a lot done this week. It feels like a lot of things are on the burner. It feels exciting.
    We have a list of about 50 hernia patients who keep returning and asking us about when the hernia doctor will come. The bad news is that only about seven of them even have a chance to get surgery with Doctor Michael. That leaves us with another whole year of trying to give the people hope that one day a doctor will come, or else that they will never be helped. Each of these surgeries will probably cost about $300 American dollars if we can't find a team to do them. 
    We have a hospital about 1 and a half hours from here that can do these surgeries. We don't have any money to help that happen, so unless we can find some willing wallets somewhere else, we aren't sure what to do to help. It feels like we are a link in a chain that is broken. Or is God saying, "No, just rest in me. The medical is not important in this situation. Just speak to the dying souls."
      Our mission director just keeps reminding us that unless we get some help somewhere, we can't even take some of our other waiting surgery patients out the trail to our big hospital this week. It feels like an impossiblility. But that is fine, if now is not the time. We basically wanted to inform our friends, so they can help us pray for wisdom. Money is not always the answer. But we do want to open up that possibility if that is what God is wanting us to do. 
    We have a little old man lying in our hospital right now, shaking with fever, ashen, and suffering from a deep bed sore. The pelvic bone is beginning to rot. What shall we do with him? There is about only one hospital that could help, and we don't know if they even can. But he is a soul, and we want to do what is right for him. 
    Thanks for walking through this with us. 
     Have a wonderful Monday. God bless you exactly where He has placed you to spread the Good News today. 
      Rhoda for the Ahlege team

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