Alice Bezil

Monday, September 27, 2010

Alice is a close to 90 year old lady, no one knows exactly. She has been living here my entire 10 weeks and apparently several months before that. She had a right femur fracture which occurred during the earthquake (from what I understand) and she laid on the floor at General Hospital for two months before being transferred to us for surgery.

I don’t have all the dates exactly, so if you know the details please fill them in, but she was operated some time in March or April, and no family had ever been present. Due to her old age she also had a prolapsed uterus and one of the Haitain OBGYN’s had promised her he would do the surgery for free, as she had no family and no money. He’d been promising my entire first month here. Alice was always fussing at me for something. Sometimes it was because I would forget to greet her when I walked by her cot (I’m really bad about that). Sometimes it was just because she wanted money for a soda. But for many weeks it was because she wanted her operation done.

I finally went to the OB one Wednesday, telling him that I didn’t know the details but Alice was claiming he had told her he’d fix her uterus. He simply said, sure, that he’d do it on Friday. As this promise had been made many times before I made sure that she had all the appropriate tests and NPO (don’t eat) orders on her chart. At 3pm on Friday while Alice was yelling at me because she hadn’t eaten all day I went and found the doctor. I asked him if he was going to have time to do her surgery because Alice was getting impatient and was hungry. He said sure, he’d do it now…finally.

Alice has a little dementia, as to be expected at her age. She would fuss at me everyday following her surgery for not letting her go home, never really understanding that there was no where for her to go home to. One of the translator’s even took it upon himself to go where she said her house was a look for her family. They were never found. IOM an NGO that helps Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) find homes and often provides tents looked high and low for somewhere for her to go. They said the area Alice claimed she was from was badly damaged and unsafe to return to.

IOM found a home for the elderly for Alice. I didn’t even know they existed in Haiti. To us it seemed miraculous. But Alice was not interested. We had several fights about it, in which she said she wasn’t going anywhere until her family came. She said I needed to put her in the car and take her to her house…and I considered it. I really did. I wanted her to see for herself that her home had been destroyed and there was nowhere for me to take her.

Jeanty, a translator who had become her caregiver…feeding and bathing and taking her out in her wheelchair was at his wits end. I tried to get him to convince her that the home would be best and at least get her out of the hospital hallway…but she would not have it.

On Monday Ruth, a PT here from the UK here for six months found me saying that someone was packing up Alice’s stuff in the hall. What!?! Apparently a friend had told Alice’s nephew at church that she’d seen her at the Adventist Hospital and she was waiting to go home. Unbelievable.

The nephew came the next day to pick her up. What a celebration it was! Between “I told you sos” Alice was crying and laughing and praising God. “I told you I have lots of family!” she said. I guess she was right.

Alice in her 90 year old, slightly crazy self had been right all along. Her family was out there and just didn’t know where she was. She is home with them now.



Jason said...

That is incredible. Praise God! I am so glad her family was able to find her after all this time!

cynthia said...

OMGosh I nearly cried ready this story, thank you Jessica for sharing this touching event with us all

Bekah F. said...

What an awesome story! There was a guy at our hospital a few weeks ago that had basically been dumped by his family and we had no where to send him because he has very little income. One day my phone rang and it was his brother calling to see why he was in the hospital (he had apparently just found out he was there) and if there was anything he needed. I said he needed a place to live and he came to pick him up the next day! Nothing as dramatic as Alice's story, but it was still exciting for all of us who had been trying to find him a place to go! I always feel so much better about discharging patients to family rather than a place and caregivers who are unfamiliar to them. Alice makes me want to come to Haiti!

Valerie said...

So glad you wrote this. Miraculous

Anonymous said...

I have a picture of Alice from our visit. Her story reminds me about what CS Lewis says about how the concept of home, and wanting to be there, is built into the core of all of us. It is why my mother in her dementia continually asks for me to take her home. Lewis also says sadly that as wonderful as our earthly home may be, it is still a poor reflection of our real home, and though not so for Alice, some homes are not places that people, like Jenny in Forest Gump, ever want to return to. But I am so very glad for Alice....and for Jeanty.

John Herzenberg, MD said...

HI Jessica,
Scott Nelson operated on her femur in early June for an untreated femur fracture from January 12. He used a SIGN nail and had to use some special tricks to get it out to length. Send me an email and I will send you some nice pictures we have of her from our trip in June.
Great work on all your followup and loving care. Best to you and Jeanty. See you after Christmas (Team Sinai coming back for another week...)
--John Herzenberg, MD

Kevin Healy MD said...

I gave Alice the anesthetic for her hysterectomy. It was the end of my first week at Adventiste and I saw her every day afterwards. I'm glad she managed to connect with her family.

Leonard Kozak said...

Jessica I loved your storey and the ending of a segment of my time at HAH. Keep up the good work. You are a great blessing to many there and a continuing inspiration to those of us who got to know you and miss being with you.