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 

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