Paul Waggoner is FREE!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Thank you to all those who have prayed for my friend LP's release from the National Penitentiary in Haiti. Today it was determined that there is not enough evidence to charge him. You can read more here. Thank you, thank you, thank you. We serve a God who hears and answers prayers!

peace on earth.

At this moment cholera is killing people, thousands of people. Parents are divorcing. People are in need of lifesaving surgery. Innocent men are sitting in dark jail cells. Teens have died in a house fire. And yet we pass each other in the store or on the street or even in church and wish each other a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year.

I have felt very little of the peace that is supposedly on this earth in the last six months of my life...the world has seemed pretty dark.

But the truth is the Baby came. He came into a world that was confusing, lost, and unjust. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords broke through the silence that night, probably (and hopefully) screaming like any other newborn, and his cries changed everything we know. The darkness was perhaps brighter, the cold was warmer, the deaths seemed easier, the broken relationships seemed bearable, the injustice seemed like it just might be made right.

Sometimes I forget. He brought us peace.

That Baby that came..? We treated him like we treat most things we are given. We took advantage, used, abused and killed that Baby. But in His death all the darkness was defeated. The world that often seems confusing, lost, and unjust was redeemed, made new. We no longer have to look at sickness, death, betrayal, and injustice the same. Because God used that Baby to give us Hope. To fix our mess. To save His people.

Sometimes I get bogged down by the brokenness. But the pieces actually will fit together. I confess I can't see it everyday, but then I'm reminded about that Baby crying out for peace and I know that despite the darkness it will come.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

one year ago...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Re-reading my post from January 2010 was very enlightening.


Monday, December 20, 2010

This has been all over facebook (and FOX and CNN) for days now. But if you haven't heard, a friend of mine, who has been serving in Haiti since January, Paul Waggoner (Little Paul=LP), was falsely charged and imprisoned in Port-au-Prince's Federal penitentiary. He is accused of kidnapping a child that died in February at a hospital where he was working. The charges are obviously bogus to all of those who know Paul and should be dismissed by the world as the child's signed death certificate is readily available. Please pray for him and his best friend Big Paul (Paul Sebring) as they fight for justice in a severely corrupt society.

The Paul's established MMRC, an NGO that helps distribute supplies among hospitals in Port-au-Prince. They were life-savers in the flesh for me many times as I needed blood, medicines, and supplies that they somehow were always able to produce. They have most recently been working without sleep fighting the cholera epidemic. I traveled with them up north to work at a cholera clinic in early November. These guys are the real deal. LP is a good ol' boy from Alabama, and he deserves to be home for Christmas. Please please please pray for him.

State Side.

Thoughts since I've been home (four days):

Holy moly is freezing.

I have so...much...stuff.

my cat in Haiti was awesome.

it's cold.

Oh God, why is LP still in jail?

What if I had stayed till Friday and been with that patient when he died Thursday morning?
...I knew I wasn't worried about him for nothing.

I haven't had anyone hit on me in like...four days.

Olives taste so unlike everything Haitian.

I'm glad we're all in the States right now, but who the heck's in Haiti?

Why am I still eating rice at almost every meal...I guess it's my new comfort food.

How much does it cost to call Haiti?

I wonder if I even like sweets anymore...they make my stomach hurt.

...Maybe my stomach ache isn't from sweets.

I have almost said "Mesi" to every holiday register girl.

I wonder if anyone I know speaks cat certainly doesn't understand it like me-me does.

What are the translators doing!? There are no white people at the hospital.

I'm freezing.

The street is so clean.

I don't even like make-up, why am I wearing it.

Port-au-Prince needs MMRC. This is terrible. I wish I was with Big Paul right now.

I am so glad Sondy is at home.

They announce the election "recount" today. Interesting.

How much will my phone bill be...if I keep texting Farah.

I (like Sarah) had forgotten that obesity was such a problem.

I bet this is the first time there haven't been Americans at HAH since January 14th.

Why would anyone need this many clothes?

I miss the heat.

WTF. Why is LP in jail!?!?!?

Oh crap, she's not staring at me cause I'm white...why is she staring at me?

God's still in Haiti.

Healing is in Your Hands

Friday, December 17, 2010
This song is by Christy Knockels, written a year ago for the Passion conference I attended in ATL. It was my go-to song for the last six months in Haiti. I had the pleasure of singing it with David Harris during my first month there, quite a memory. Listen to it if you get the chance:

No mountain, no valley, no gain or loss we know
could keep us from Your love
No sickness, no secret, no chain is strong enough
to keep us from Your love
to keep us from Your love

How high, how wide
No matter where I am, healing is in Your hands
How deep, How strong,
And now by Your grace I stand, healing is in Your hands

Our present, our future, our past is in Your hands
We're covered by Your blood
We're covered by Your blood

How high, How wide
no matter where I am, healing is in Your hands
How deep, How strong
And now by Your grace I stand, healing is in Your hands

In all things, we know that.
We are more than conquerors.
You keep us by your love.
You keep us by your love.

my last Haitian post...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010
It's been far to long since I have posted. With Dr Scott's arrival, my wonderful sister-in-laws venture, and "civil unrest" in the county, things have been more than a little busy around here. That being said, AHI (my NGO) has asked that all ex-patriot volunteers be out of the country by today. The elections have seemed mostly uneventful so far but there is definitely strange air around.

The last several days have happened so fast that I doubt my brain will even understand that I'm leaving until I arrive in my parents home tonight. I am excited about going home. It is time. I don't know when or if I will be back in Haiti but God knows already and will straighten that out for me when the time comes.

As I walked down the street last night to buy my last dinner of street food I reminisced about what I will (and won't) miss:


1. cold showers
2. lockdown
3. cat-calls
4. people asking me for money
5. people asking me for my...everything
6. not having a key to anywhere
7. it costing $80 to get a car to go to Petionville and back
8. fake meat
9. living in a hospital
10. what is lost in translation
11. trash thrown on the street
12. language barriers
13. working with so many NGOs
14. the smell of urine on the sidewalk
15. cholera


1. Sondy Jean
2. Street food
3. the hospital roof
4. simplicity
5. fresh squeezed sitwon juice
6. seeing crazy bone deformities fixed that would never have seen an MD if the earthquake hadn't happened.
7. my translators
8. me-me
9. the way the Haitian rain makes the air clean
10. pretending I'm a Peds nurse with parents who are so gracious
11. CBM
12. seeing Hatian children that look EXACTLY like their parents
13. working with so many NGOs
14. Brooke
15. having my laundry done for me

house arrest.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010
We have been on lock-down since Friday night due to the Presidential elections. Apparently it can get pretty violent but has seemed annoyingly quiet and boring to me. Despite about ten people walking down the street singing a song about their favorite candidate and banging on an empty water jug, I haven't seen anything. But then, I guess that's the whole point of being on lockdown.

Quiet streets means a quiet hospital when no one wants to venture out. We were afraid it would mean lots of traumas, but that hasn't been the case, though they are supposed to announce the "winner" or more likely "run-off candidates" tomorrow.

For the first time in over five months I have walked around the entire perimeter of the hospital property. There are pretty banana trees in two corners, although the ground around them is piled with trash they are still pretty. Millions of lizards dance at your feet and I was completely amazed that I did not encounter a single spider.

The grounds of this place seem to be keeping so many secrets. I often wish I had been here right after the earthquake to see what it was like, though I'm not sure I could have handled it. There are spaces in the grass where tents used to be and I wonder how many patients the trees have seen pass. There is rumor of the corner where they used to dump amputated limbs...but there is no evidence of it eleven months later.

There is a garden. It so closely resembles my Grandaddy Mac's yard in Miami that I feel quite at home in it. The air feels the same and swatting mosquitoes keeps you busy. Many plants...almost all in fact...remain in their pots (just like grandaddy's) and there are old pieces of machinery begging to be disposed of scattered about. I didn't spot any boats, but the rusted old school desks and treasures hanging from vines are picture perfect.

Our roped off cholera tent keeps the fourth corner from being explored. But you can smell it. I don't believe I will ever be able to smell bleach again without thinking of cholera. It's just how it smells. Like sour bleach. Thankfully our tent still hasn't been too busy and MSF is now scheduled in their transfer pick-ups.

Tomorrow, I hope, our sentence is lifted and I will be able to go outside the gate again. Although it is kinda nice having the boy at the gate hand-deliver my coca-cola.

We are all resting up anticipating Dr Scott's arrival next week, a repaired C-arm, and a busy schedule.

Seventeen days.

"I'm really just thankful for clean water" ~Azaria

Thursday, November 25, 2010
"If nothing else it's good that you were happy to return to Diquini," Ruth said about my trip to the north. And she was right. I would like to say that I have returned with a very different attitude. Maybe it's because I'm going home in just a few weeks or maybe because there is some encouragement in discovering that nowhere else is any better than here.

It's been a constant theme in my time here and though sometimes it's scary, it's nice to know that the country, as a whole, is messy. It's not just my hospital. It was good to return to the support of my friends here as well. There are so many beautiful Haitians that make each day here a delight. Sometimes they are hard to please and their expectations are impossible to fulfill, but all in all they provide consistency and support. Even the patients that I see operated on returning to clinic is rewarding. This morning I was greeted in the hallway by our patient that had his leg amputated due to elephantiasis a few weeks ago. I always worry a great deal about the amputees. In an already difficult country, losing your limp (after managing to keep it through the earthquake) is always depressing. But this man had such a giant smile on his face! He knows that his life is better and he is healthier now.

And there is Jonas. What a story of thanksgiving! He was said to be a "stable" femur fracture sent from a town a couple of hours away. I wasn't here when he rolled in but his hemoglobin in the 3's and a grossly dislocated knee and broken femur (moto wreck) made him everything but stable. He was watched for a week or so, I think as many as three doctors hoping his leg would pull through...but the stench became unbearable even to him, and after many washouts and revisions he ended up with an Above the Knee Amputation for a dead lower leg. We were afraid that wouldn't be enough though, as he looked septic with high fevers and talking out of his head on many occasions.

He went home yesterday. A man with a beautiful wife and two small children stood on the balcony with me yesterday telling me he wouldn't forget me. "I know I lost my leg but I'm glad I have my life. There was awhile when I wasn't sure I would make it out of here," he told me. I told him that we felt the same way. He had been very sick.

For his life I am thankful. For Maffie's too. She's a 18 year old trauma who we all thought would die her first night. Four weeks and about seven units of blood later (in a country where it's hard to get one) she is still on bed rest but she is alive!

Yesterday Partner in Health's MD emailed me saying that they would treat Wilny (see earlier post). The pictures of his cancer lesions are too graphic to post, but I would love to show them so you all would have some understanding of what this means. I'm trying to be patient and not rejoice too much until he is scheduled for treatment, but everything is looking good.

Thanks to the God of messy places. Thanks to all of you who pray and support me in endless ways. Thanks to my family who is steady and unwavering in their love. Thank You for the cross.
Saturday, November 20, 2010


Friday, November 19, 2010
Last Friday night I got a call from Big Paul late in the evening. We have only met one time face to face, but he and his partner Little Paul call me often trading around supplies and sick patients. They were recently featured in Men's Health magazine and have become known at Port-au-Prince's Cowboy EMT's. When these guys ask for help you know they really need it.

Paul told me that he had recently (as in two days before) returned from St Louis de Nord, a small town in Northern Haiti that was being taken over by the cholera epidemic. He said he was leaving tomorrow, possibly at 7am on a UN chopper to get a medical team up there. We need nurses, he'd said. Can you help?

Having come off of a particularly difficult week and really wanting to get out of the hospital I told him I'd try. A few hours and couple phone calls later Elinor and I were committed and leaving at 3pm the next day. I was excited to do some hands on nursing and not have to be in charge of anything for a week. Although I confess I was extremely nervous, knowing very little about cholera.

Our team of six nurses, three EMT's, two logistics people, and one fresh graduate from med school arrived in the dark to St Louis. It didn't take me long to figure out that no one had any clue what they were doing. We created our own work schedule and some of the team went straight to the clinic. I was on at 4 am.

I can hardly express the anger, frustration, desperation, and sorrow of the five days following. What an unbelivable disease. Everything you read about cholera says it's all in the fluid resusitation...but no one seemed to know how much. For five days we played a guessing game. We won a lot. But always felt like we were losing. I have never seen death come so quickly and so unexpectedly.

Old people and children were obviously the most vulnerable. Although we were all taken aback when an 18 year old boy died rather unexpectedly. Trying to get patients who weren't vomiting to drink was maybe the biggest challenge. Everyone wanted an IV but there were times when we were down to five liters of fluid and it was impossible to give everyone what they needed. A sweet old man I was caring for asked me for soup and a cola with salt in it (craving salt showing his dehydration). I managed to track down and feed him some soup for lunch, only to have him die not five hours later. I left for a bathroom break and a woman I'd more or less admitted who had been talking to me on my way out the door died while I was gone. We lost 19 people in four days/five nights. I can't decide if that's sounds like a lot or not. But when you remember every face it's hard to brush off.

I don't understand where the world is. The Red Cross, WHO, and even MSF are absent in St Louis. There are no protocols or plans. Patients come in on their linen covered in feces and after they die their family takes it back home. Little old ladies were mopping up their husbands waste without gloves on, and children were eating from bowls next to their poop buckets.

There is no education, no pamphlets, no structure. A group of five or so English speaking (educated) teens stopped Melissa in the street and told her they didn't understand. Where is it coming from? I heard one say. How did this start and how do we stop it? They were clueless to the fact that it's in their water.

I was perhaps most angered by the fact that the Northwest Christian Mission where we were staying houses a old people's home and an orphanage. Over eight of the elderly from their home were our patients. At least five of them died. No one has yet to test their water! I won't be surprised if they are all taken by cholera in the next month.

When we left today there were two new paramedics to take our place. TWO people to care for over sixty dying patients for a twelve hour shift. Where is everyone?

Are people just tired of hearing about Haiti's problems? Do they think that since they helped with that whole earthquake thing they've done their good deed for the year? Cholera is wiping out the regions the earthquake didn't touch and it seems that there is a whole lot of talk and no action.

I do not think the clinic we worked in should be functioning. It's completely unsafe and ill run. I have no doubt that it's spreading as much cholera as it's treating. But that being said, those people would be dead if it wasn't there. I don't believe the rumors that the UN started this mess, but regardless of the source they need to be doing something about it. This disease is here to stay and unless drastic measures are taken to educate and treat the Haitian people tales of the earthquake will die out as the stories of cholera flow through the streets.

on a brighter note...

Sunday, November 7, 2010
One answered prayer already! David, the HIV baby that I've mentioned a couple of times before was placed in what I believe is the only HIV orphanage in the country! Thanks to our new medical director's connection. He will have all the access he needs to medical care and treatment. His mother is able to visit as she wants. Please continue to pray for somewhere for her to go as her family wants nothing to do with her.

He is the Provider.

plenty of mess without a hurricane.

Saturday, November 6, 2010
I think a baby has died everyday this week in Peds. Or at least it feels that way. I haven't been able to sleep two nights because wailing mother's are being consoled outside of my window. Mother's losing babies that have nothing to do with earthquakes, cholera, or hurricanes. It's just life in Haiti.

I haven't been involved. I haven't been involved because both the other hospitals in Carrefour who we have great relationships with and who often save patients we can't closed this week. What a disaster. They were both planning on closing in December, but with the cholera and hurricane one stopped serving orthopedics and now is a cholera treatment center (for one patient that might have cholera). The other was a tent hospital that wanted to disband before the hurricane (that did not hit our area).

They will both be missed. But they were closing in December anyway...I think we are now the only hospital in Carrefour. I wasn't involved with the babies because I think we are the only hospital in Port-au-Prince doing orthopedics...maybe the only one in the country...

I have gotten a phone call everyday this week about a fractured femur transfer. We just don't have the capacity to be seen as a trauma hospital. It's really frustrating because at the end of the day, there is probably nowhere else for a femur fracture to go. We have eight trauma patients in house waiting for major surgeries. They were waiting for blood. Now they are simply waiting for manpower...for a doctor that's staying for more than eight days.

Our patients are still only getting one meal a day. I think that is perhaps the worst thing of all. We're talking about developing a new wing to the hospital and a great rehab center when the reality is if Elenor or I doesn't remember to go feed Paul (a patient here with no family) he will only get rice and beans at 1pm. He won't even get any water. That's a problem.

I believe we are in way over our heads here. We are all trying as hard as we can to make a difference and "improve healthcare in Haiti" and all that mess, but truthfully, the disaster doesn't seem much better than eleven months ago.

Tuesday night we had five trauma patients come in within an hour and a half. It scares me to think that if that had happened just six weeks ago I would have been the only ex-pat nurse here. Fortunately we had a great OR team and three full time nurses to jump into the action and get the patients straightened out. Everybody lived, and for now that seems to be the only goal.

I apologize if this post is a mess of ideas and complaints, but as the end of my time here approaches I wonder what, if anything, I have actually accomplished. A friend told me the other night that she would love to work long term in Haiti as long as she didn't have a job someplace that she felt would completely fall apart when she left. Sometimes I fear that's what we've gotten ourselves into. I pray that it's not true.

seven weeks.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I just returned from a five day break in Miami. It was a bit strange being my first time in the States since July 16th, but all in all it was wonderful. I was able to rest and spend time with my family and friends. I was also able to think about these last seven weeks approaching me. I can hardly believe it. Some days I feel like I've been here forever! Other times it seems so short.
I know that there are four things I need to accomplish in this time. They are four faces, four prayers. Four people who need help in four very different ways.

1) Wilny D'Haiti is 27, he has three children at home. He has lymphoma covering the entire back of his head. He wears a hat to keep away the stares. I'm not one to be disturbed by much, but the lesions and lumps on his head are hard for even me to look at. He is the one I was raising money for. For a long time I was told that there is no chemotherapy in Haiti. Through great connections and friends I've discovered that that isn't necessarily true so Wilny has been undergoing a series of tests so that he might be accepted for treatment. He will hopefully have his CT scan this week, which will give the doctors even clearer insight into what is needed. Please pray that he is accepted and that his treatment plan is set before I leave here.

2) Andre. Many of you know him. He's a eighteen year old boy who has been living here at the hospital since shortly after the earthquake. He needs a home. Andre comes from an abusive family and suffers from JRA so he is unable to do very much for himself. He has to eat a liquid to pureed diet and cannot get around without constant pain. He has nowhere to go. He currently sleeps on a cot in the hallway. Pray that we find somewhere to place him this month.

3) Kensia is a 15 year old girl with a heart murmur so loud you can practically hear it while standing next to her. She is in need of an aortic valve replacement due to severe aortic regurgitation and stenosis. I have managed to get two NGOs interested in her case and she could possibly have heart surgery in the Dominican or Israel depending on the assessments. She has a meeting tomorrow with CURE international who has promised to get her paperwork/passport ready. Please pray that the paperwork is processed quickly and her surgery is scheduled before December 17th.

4) Soline and David. I have mentioned them before. David is an 9 month old HIV positive baby, who is once again in a tent on the hospital grounds because he got sick at the orphanage. Soline, his mom, just turned 18. She is anxious to work but has no family support or resources. She does not have any friends. She had a really rough day today. She's alone in a country that is not kind to unwed mothers with HIV. Pray that we can find somewhere for her to live, pray that she can find work. Pray that David survives.

Donate to patient's in Haiti

Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Hey everyone, I am trying to raise $280 to get a CT of the brain for a cancer patient I am currently taking care of. We are trying to get him Chemo that we think can save him, but like healthcare in the US, things cost money. He needs a CT for evaluation.

If I raise over the desired amount I promise all other funds will go towards patients needing treatment (ultrasound, EKG, CTs, medicines) that they cannot afford. See below and thank you for considering.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Last night I rode back from a health conference with a beautiful, brilliant, young Haitian doctor. We were talking about the Haitian people.

She said that often her people are rude. She said that it's hard for them. Specifically the uneducated people. For them everything is a fight. It's a fight for food, a fight to get on the tap-tap going in the right direction. A fight to sell each piece of fruit and every soda. It's a fight to survive. Especially in certain areas of Port-au-Prince, like Carrefour. She said they get so used to fighting everyday that their entire life and attitude becomes just that, a battle.

She said she wishes that they weren't rude sometimes, but she understands it. She believes it's her duty to help educate them. Aid them in survival. To show them grace.

It's so easy for me to forget the trials they face everyday while I live in a sturdy building with (usually) clean water and (sometimes) electricity. But all you have to do is ride across town to remember. I think we are all fighting to learn here in our own way.

my Jesus Revelation.

Monday, October 18, 2010
I'm going to be honest. I've had a really hard time with the Haitian people. In general that is. There are always well, everything. Except maybe that God is good...but for most everything else.

I've mentioned before that Haitian's are strong and patient. Resilient. But they are frustrating. They take and take and take and expect more. There is a white price and a Haitian price for every item on the street. It doesn't matter if you've been here six days or six years. They will always charge you more. They think we owe it to them.

No matter how many times I explain that I am here for free, not getting paid, they think I'm rich. They believe I have money and I should give it to them. They deserve it somehow.

For my first couple months here I thought that maybe they did. I’ve read the history and am aware that the French and Americans have used and abused Haiti over decades. And I am sure we still are, more than I realize…

But then I got fed up. A middle age patient who'd been walking around with a bullet in his leg limping terrible with a grossly affected femur got to me. I'd been advocating for weeks for him to have surgery as some physicians put it off on "the next guy." I'd made sure he and his daughter had enough food. I brought him juice. He had free medicine, free food, a free operation, free lab work, free xrays and far more than a free full days work from me.

He did well after his surgery. He was given everything he needed and more. When it came time for discharge he looked at me, happy but exhausted from the days work, and said, "aren't you going to give me money to go home?"

I about fell on the floor. I'm sure I rolled my eyes and looked at the translator. "I've given him everything I can, he hasn't paid a cent his entire stay here, but he needs to get himself home."

I was done. Served out. About ready to throw in the towel.

I have talked with other expats here many times about how we don't understand the common “Haitian attitude.” We've given up comfort. We've given up good paying jobs and regular meals. We've given up hot water and air conditioning. We've left our families and our cars and all that is familiar and easy. And everyday they ask us to give MORE.

Sometimes it's food. Sometimes it's money for school or a laptop or a free ride. Sometimes it's diapers or formula or your ipod.
And me in my sinful self simply wants to say...don't you think I've given you enough!?

How terrible my attitude has been.


He made Himself nothing.
Taking the very nature of a servant,
Being made in human likeness,
And being found in appearance as a man,
He humbled Himself and became obedient to death.
Even death on a cross.

from Philippians 2.

What I have given pales in comparison. In reality it is nothing. He gave and gave and gave and is still giving...

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I kissed an eight month old baby goodbye today while his mom cried. She took him to an orphanage so that she can find work. She is seventeen. She's been living here since shortly after the earthquake and our administration has mandated that all the tents be gone by October 1st. What day is it?

I gave her the money to take him into the countryside to an orphanage that will allow her to visit. I've been so torn about it. When talking to Brooke she said, "think about it though, if we were in the States we would encourage a 17 year old to put her son up for adoption, we wouldn't think it was wrong." The difference here is he won't be adopted.

I've heard that many of the children in orphanages here are not orphans at all. Their parents simply cannot afford them. What makes it even worse is that this baby is HIV+. When I was in Tanzania it seemed that there were orphanages all over the place for HIV/AIDS kids. There is one in Port-au-Prince. It's full.

I probably won't see David again, but it's my prayer that his mom is able to care for him again someday. It seems hopeless in a world where educated, trilingual men can't find jobs, that a seventeen, uneducated, sick mother would. But who knows. Pray for her and for me. She will still be living close and I hope that I'll still see her often.

Galerie Nader.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I get it now. Since January I've heard complaints about the great loss of art in the earthquake. I read an article in Smithsonian Magazine that my father gave me during our time in the Dominican. It told about the hundreds of paintings lost in the rubble worth thousands of dollars. I never really understood what all the fuss was about.

On the road to Petion-Ville and even around the palace downtown there are streets lined with "artists" selling their wares. Most of it is brightly painted metal and canvas. They are all okay. If you are up for the harassment you might occasionally find something worth stopping to look at. I'm not big on folk art, which is what I guess most of it is called...the rest of my family would actually know...but other than market scenes and occasional jungle animals it's mostly unremarkable.

The Galerie Nader changed that for me. I went to Petion-Ville with one of the groups last week and the most important stop was this art gallery. A few of the team members had been there earlier in the year and wanted to go back.

I'm not sure if it's the stark contrast to the dusty, trashy Port-au-Prince streets, or just the fact that you walk out of mud onto pearly white floors cooled by air conditioning, but the place completely comes alive.

It's small, which is my idea of an art gallery, and the walls are over 15 feel high. Covered, from toe to ceiling, with paintings. I discovered that the dusty canvases lining the streets are, in fact, replicas of some pretty amazing pieces of art.

There are few that I would purchase for my living room, but the faces of Haitians selling, dancing, meeting, and even sacrificing are pretty compelling. There are obvious voodoo roots in some pieces and angelic scenes in others.

It made me realize that when my Haitian American friend said that "all that Haiti has going for her is mangoes and art" the art might actually save her.

Valbrun Jacques is by far my favorite and his oils cost upwards of $6000 USD. The gallery caretaker told me that he died a few years back, likely increasing his going rates but I wasn't alarmed by the price. Third world countries don't have to produce third rate art. I think too often when we come to a place like Haiti we think that the filth, heat, and disease cheapens the country as a whole, and it's not true.

Beautiful people produce beautiful art all over the world. And the contrast in Haiti just makes it all the more compelling.

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.


is it Sunday..?

Sunday, September 19, 2010
After being almost completely emerged amongst Adventists, I rarely know what day it is anymore.

Blog posts are few and far between these days and I guess that is a testament to the "honeymoon phase" being over. The teams have been phenomenal the last couple of weeks and I also had a five day vacation in the DR with my parents. It was really good to get away from Port-au-Prince, although I confess my brain was here the whole time.

I felt like I was coming home when Richard picked me up from the airport and it's good to be back at work. Our census is down to ONE page and while we have some very sick patients who will be here a long time, we have lots of space for the new Ortho MD who arrives on Tuesday. We actually have a full three days without an Ortho Surgeon here, which is a first for us, but it's been good to breathe and get organized before the chaos starts up again.

Prayers have been answered on the "political" front and it looks as though God is providing new leadership at the hospital that will hopefully help to fix many of the system problems. There are still a lot of questions when it comes to patient care that isn't Orthopedic, but I think things will start picking up quickly.

Our team is small right now, there are only six volunteers here, opposed to our usual teens and makes the hospital a quieter place and slightly more organized...although, Monday will be very interesting.

I continue to often be discouraged by the attitudes of the Haitian people. I don't know that I have mentioned it much because so many people read this blog that I have never met. But the entitlement and "give me" attitude starts to wear on you.

I spent yesterday in Jacmel at the spring (yes we went David!) and the beach. It was a beautiful drive and it got me wondering what other parts of Haiti are like. People can be extremely diverse in different parts of the states and I wonder if a lot of the attitudes that I deal with daily are localized to this city. The capital. The port. That area that has been most used and abused, pillaged and provided for for many years.

For those of you who pray, pray that I will love these people whole heartedly. Pray that I'll be selfless and have endurance. Some of them are so easy to love, others nearly impossible. (As it is with all people). But then, I'm not really doing it for them I guess. Michelle reminded me that there is a Nazarene guy who said it was all for him...

September with no college football.

Sunday, September 5, 2010
I always know it's been too long since I've posted when I can't remember what I did yesterday, much less last week. There has been so much change these last ten days that I'm not sure I can explain it all. I think I already mentioned the departure of David Harris (see I can't remember anything). He was the incredible individual in charge of all things supply. Just getting a hold of the keys to central supply since he has been gone is quite a task in itself.

Dr Scott Nelson, the orthopedic surgeon who put this entire Ortho program in place came and went last week. Brooke Beck who has been running this hospital since February from a nursing point of view officially moved on to greener pastures as well. Jean Junior, the orphan who had been living with us since my first week here and his father's death also moved to Frantz's mother's orphanage, definitely the best thing for him right now, but all the same very hard.

I've never been one that hates change. I don't love it either. I've discovered that I get bored with things after about two years in the same place, or two months if we're talking boyfriends. Overall I think change is good. I can't stand feeling stagnant or unproductive. Same ol' same ol'. It makes me want to scream.

But this kind of change is hard, especially because it has come with a lot more responsibility for me. But I think God likes change. I think He intended it. We should always be moving when it comes to spiritual things. And I believe that everything in life is it should all be moving forward.

My heart has felt something the last two days. I've told my parents, though never mentioned it here, that I feel incapable of processing emotions here. Of any kind. I haven't been truly happy or sad. I haven't cried (except for almost as Brooke drove away). I haven't really let myself love either. I feel so distant.

Yesterday a sweet 15 year old girl named Kensia invited me to her home. After a scolding from Frantz because I didn't know exactly why I was going, I went anyway. (Yes he came along). She has a serious heart problem. I don't know what because all of her medical records were destroyed in the earthquake. She lost her family in it as well. You can almost hear her heart murmur standing next to her. She comes to the hospital to find Brooke, or now me, when she is having trouble breathing.

I went to her home and she and her cousin sang for me, she gave me a picture she had drawn and a coca-cola, and she asked me to adopt her. She lives with her neighbor, whom she calls her aunt. Her Aunt told me that they can't afford to help her medically. Even if they could I've never heard of heart surgery in Haiti. She makes me sad.

We got confirmation over the weekend that Joseph has bone cancer. He came in to preop this morning. We have to amputate his leg tomorrow. Other than a second earthquake, amputation is every Haitian's biggest fear. I can't tell you how many patients in ortho clinic have agreed to surgery as long as we promise we aren't cutting their limb off.

Joseph is 21 and at this stage in the game he wouldn't have another option even in the States. This is his only chance, although without chemo before and after he still might not make it. He has a perfect smile and speaks some English. He is terrified. He made me so sad.

Some good changes are happening as well. Brian arrived. An architect from Oregon who is hopefully going to make some real changes happen around this place. He's also a our little family is growing.

My parents are coming to Haiti this weekend and I will get my first real break in two months in the Dominican Republic! Just in time.

The weather is starting to cool off...or maybe I'm just used to it. But I haven't been hot today.

My kitten looks healthy now and actually runs to me when I enter the room rather than hissing at me.

My Creole is ...slowly...improving...and my new teacher is supposed to come by tomorrow!

I hear it's fall in Georgia and thus the SEC has begun to take charge. All the teams I care about won yesterday...which really just means Auburn.

War Damn Eagle.

a warm shower.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I'm spending the weekend at the hotel nearby. It's my first time away from the hospital for more than 7-8 hours. The first night away in six weeks. The water in the shower was warm tonight, which was amazing. It's very refreshing to take cold showers when it's consistently 97 degrees with no AC, but honestly being covered in goosebumps the whole time makes the cleaning process go much faster. The warm water was an excellent break...and a shower curtain too! Oh the things I miss =)

I've once again decided that I need to be taking formal Creole lessons. I'm slowly getting better at understanding it. But speaking is still difficult and it's so much easier to just use a translator. Maybe Amy and I can set up some scheduled formal lessons. I think it's the only thing that will really work for me.

A brief update on the patient I mentioned before. He made it through his surgery...which was actaully miraculous, because the next morning he looked terrible. His oxygen sat was 81% and only 93% on four liters of oxygen. He also had a distended, tender belly for the first time. I knew his only chance was getting him out of our hospital back to a General Surgeon. Brooke and I decided from his chest xray that he had a pneumothorax (collapsed lung). His chest also looked uneven and it would explain the 02 sat. We didn't have a surgeon that could place a chest tube...and two surgeons and an IM doctor disagreed with our diagnosis anyway.

I called the German Red Cross explaining the situation and basically informing them that they would be taking the patient back. He had his ortho surgeries and we really needed a General Surgeon to evaluate the mess he was quickly becoming. They agreed to take him although their anesthesia was away for the day. The transfer was uneventful and the next day I called a very upset Medical Director to ask what had happened.

"That patient caused a meeting of my entire medical staff to assess what happened" he said. "We put a chest tube in him and it immediately dumped 800cc'c of blood (amazing what and ICU and ER nurse can diagnose together). He had a massive hemopnuemothorax." Things went downhill from there. He needed to be taken to the OR immediately due to his internal bleeding but the lack of anesthisia made that impossible. They had tried to transfer him again without success and he had passed sometime shortly after that. Even if surgery had been an option, in a country without a CT scan and xrays diagnosing internal bleeding...the future is bleak for anyone.

The GRC felt responsible, for clearing him (before they sent him to us the first time). There was no way for them to know that he'd been slowly bleeding to death inside, and probably the same result would have occurred if they had known. But nonetheless they decided to revamp their system. "Sometimes these things just happen." He'd kept assuring himself.

On a brighter note I have a baby kitten. I heard her crying outside my balcony and fed her a couple days before one of the gardeners walked in with a sack holding something. I looked inside and it was my kitten! She's pretty wild and wouldn't let me hold her for a couple days but she's doing well now. I treated her with people medicine for parasites (thanks google) which cleared up her bloated belly in a couple days and she actually looks very healthy now! She still hisses when you approach her but gets over it when you start to pet her. She misses her mommy I guess.

Junior (I've mentioned him, he's the orphan that lives with us) named her Maiyla...I need to ask him how to spell it...but it sounds beautiful in his Haitian voice.

She'll hopefully be moving into the house with us in a few weeks (Amy said is was okay Nathan =) Maybe it's being optimistic but it looks like things are actually moving forward on us MOVING OUT of the hospital.

My little brother David left yesterday. I already miss him dearly! Makes me wish I'd spent even more time with him while I could have. He's a stud, loves Jesus and people so well and is wise beyond his years! Can't wait to visit him someday in CA. Please have a hot brownie and icecream for me. That's what I want right now.

This last week was crazy productive with Dr Scott at the steering wheel. Anxious to see what it will be like after he leaves Tuesday, but I think he's cleared up a lot of chaos and questions I've had. Sometimes I think there is no way I can do this for 6 months. Other times I can't think of doing anything else. The emails and prayers are always welcomed. Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Everyone pictured has been here or will be here for at least four months. Thus we consider ourselves the long term volunteers.
Luke, David, Jessica, Nathan, Amy, Brooke, Dr Scott.

this is for mom.

My room got a significant upgrade two days ago. Still no AC but I finally managed to steal a dresser and real mattress. It's funny, I slept better on my cot.



this is for Shelby and nurses in general.

So Sunday evening, amidst the chaos of having a brilliant new team here trying to get organized and do operations on what is supposed to be the slow day, the German Red Cross decided to transfer me a orthopedic trauma patient.

This might have been due to the fact that not 24 hours earlier Brooke and I drove to the German Red Cross’s hospital to get their correct info as they are a General Surgeon resource and it’s nice to see where you are shipping people off to.

We had good conversation with them and told them we’d be happy to take orthopedic transfers. We gave them our contact info.

So Sunday evening, one of the Radiology techs who thinks he runs the hospital walked up to me waiving papers in my already overwhelmed face telling me in Crenglish that there was an ambulance out front.

I read a few words of the report before handing the French words (or maybe they were German…) to a translator and going to see the patient.

He was in his 50’s. He had an open femur fracture. Closed tibia fracture and humorous fracture (these were determined later as the GRC hadn’t done xrays). He was bleeding from the goose egg on his head. He reeked of alcohol. He had been hit by a car. The Germans clearly didn’t want to deal with him.

The patient was taken to the ER where I went and found the one short-term volunteer ER nurse because I was in the middle of about five other jobs at the time and I at least needed a BP on this patient.

The BP was 60/?. The hemoglobin was 6.0 (definitely a surgery candidate with no blood in this country).

I wish I knew how to cuss in German.

We dumped fluid in him. Got his blood pressure up. We drew his labs and sent his wife with the blood samples and script for blood to the Red Cross at General Hospital (this is the system…the family goes, sits in line for hours or days, donates, and maybe gets blood for their loved one). I spoke to the Haitian nurse telling her the situation and asking her to watch over him closely. We weren’t sure he would make it.

He lived through Sunday night.

The next morning I learned that the patient hadn’t gotten pain medicine all night and his blood pressure had been taken maybe one time.

I transferred him to Pre-op where I knew he’d be watched more diligently.

He lived through Monday (hemoglobin 4.8) with a promise of blood at 4pm.

He lived until Tuesday with a promise of blood at 8am.

At about 2pm the family member came back and told me the Red Cross said there was no blood.

We called our other contacts with no results.

I walked past Meghan in the hall. A girl from a clinic way out who’d brought some patients in for Ortho clinic. “Do you have any blood contacts I should know about?”

“Well you can always call Big Paul.”

I’ve heard a lot about Big Paul but hadn’t met him. Apparently he’s some crazy American, been here since 10 days after with no medical background but simply “gets shit done.”

He provided us with the hundreds of cases of Pedialite last week.

I called him. He doesn’t know me from Adam. But told me to give him the patient name and he’d take care of it.

He texted me about 30 minutes later and said to be at General at 7pm. I would have two units.

I walked into General at 6:50pm. Brooke dropped me to go by the TB clinic. I walked past about 20 people waiting in line with their coolers.

Holy crap, I forgot the cooler.

I spoke about 5 words of Creole. He spoke about 5 words of English.

I gave the blood tech the patient’s name. I think she said it was almost ready.

I waited.

I lied and said the cooler was in the car. He believed me. Brooke came in without the cooler. She lied and said the cooler was in the car. He told us to go get it. We lied and said the driver was coming.

He knew we were lying. Brooke left to go see if Big Paul had a cooler.

I waited some more. I noticed a girl with a goiter about twice the size of her neck waiting in line I’m sure for blood that would enable her to have surgery.
I suddenly felt sick that my blood was going to a drunkard who walked in front of a car.

I am white. I had connections. I had walked to the front of the line.

I waited some more. The lab tech brought me a cooler. (Guess I should have told him I forgot it to begin with).

Big Paul walked in with no cooler. It didn’t matter. I had the blood.

I walked past the girl with the goiter and the other patients waiting for hours…or days.

We only got one unit of blood. That’s okay. I hope the girl with the goiter gets the other one.

I gave the blood to our patient’s nurse back at Adventiste. She hadn’t hung it when I came back 30 minutes later. I asked her why and she said the patient had a temperature and she couldn’t hang it when the patient has a temperature. I didn’t understand. I told her the blood would expire in four hours and it had to be hung now. I explained the importance of watching the temperature baseline to make sure he isn’t having a reaction, and that didn’t matter that he had a temperature. She wouldn’t do it. I asked Brooke what to do. She said….yeah, it’s that cultural hot body, cold blood thing. Trying to respect her education Brooke and I explained that the patient was going to die without the blood and that the risk of hanging it while he had a temperature outweighed the fact that not hanging it meant certain death. She wouldn’t do it. Brooke and I asked if we could hang it ourselves. Then decided to compromise.

We gave Tylenol immediately and left for half an hour. We would now have about 2.5 hours until the blood expired.

30 minutes later the plan had worked. Brooke said he was afebrile and the nurse was hanging the blood.

He’s getting it now. Dr. Scott says if his hemoglobin is above six he’ll take him to the OR.

Maybe he’ll go in the morning.

For now we’re just waiting.


Quito is a patient whose dressing I changed everyday I was here short term in May. It was probably the most extensive one I did. He came into clinic on Monday with a completely healed leg. He had his external fixator removed. Dr Scott said that he was one of those patient's they went back and forth about amputating. So glad they didn't.

First pictures are from May. The other's from Monday. I missed the picture without the exfix. But known that it was incredible.


Thursday, August 19, 2010
Today I rode on a moto. I discovered it’s much like a magic carpet. If you keep your hands and arms inside and your eyes closed you’ll come out alright. There aren’t really taxis in Haiti. There are the infamous taptap’s which look exactly like and function the same way as dala-dala’s in Tanzania. They are brightly colored pickup trucks and vans with open backs. People pile in and hang on for dear life. You bang on the rusty metal top to let the driver know that you want out. I’m sure I’ll ride in one eventually. But today we opted for the moto. My good friend Frantz’s mother runs an orphanage about two miles from the hospital. We had a surplus of diapers and Pedialite delivered this week so Frantz and I went to deliver some.

A moto is basically what Georgians would call a dirt bike. Some are actual motorcycles. But the drivers roam the streets and you simply yell out “moto” to get one to stop. You climb aboard after haggling over the price and distance of your destination.

Brooke has been taking them across the city for a few months and has gotten comfortable with it. I wouldn’t do it by myself quite yet.

I ended up sandwiched between Frantz and the moto driver and decided that as long at my knees were tucked in as close as possible I would survive. I wasn’t really scared, but quite convinced that we were going to take out a few children and even a goat. We never did though. The motos swerve between cars fearlessly and even take uneven terrain with ease. I was pretty surprised.

I am slowly adapting to the Haitian way of life. Having the power out for over eight hours today made me realize that even with little resources we take many blessings for granted.

Andre, who has had a fractured arm for seven months finally had his surgery today. He has come to clinic at least every week that I have been here, sometimes twice a week and between physician preference and just time he was put off until today. I can’t wait to talk to him tomorrow and see how he feels. He is such a sweet man.

This week has been pretty slow for me as I haven’t felt well and have actually managed to take a nap almost everyday. It’s hard for me to not feel like I should be working every hour, but I’m starting too relax.

Some major bridges have been built between the ex-pat staff and the Haitians. The nurses and two of the Haitian MD’s round with us every morning now. It takes a lot of time, but is so beneficial to build those relationships.

We have to empower the Haitians to take charge of their hospital. Especially the nurses in caring for their patients. They don’t take ownership the way American nurses do (or ICU ones at least). It’s a shame. But education and just offering to help them has made so much difference. Baby steps…but all in the right direction.

Guest Blogger!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010
My voice has been gone for two days typical cold my dear friend David has agreed to post for me. Well actually it was his idea...but here lies my first guest blogger:

BLOG JACKED!!!!! Hello friends and family of Jessica. My name is David Harris and I'm taking over "Therapeutic Connection" tonight! I've been at the hospital doing supply and "logistics" since April and I'm only here through next week! It's bittersweet. You can read my blog at

It's crazy how things often change quickly. If you happened to be on (the hurricane watch site) at around 3pm local time, 1pm west coast and 4 pm east coast, you would have seen a pretty big storm move over Hispaniola. Seemingly out of nowhere, strong winds blew, heavy rain poured down, lightning flashed, thunder crashed, the whole nine yards. People all around ran for shelter as water leaked into patient rooms and there were mini-floods in the hallways. But within twenty minutes the worst had passed, the water dried up, and now the skies are clear.

(Jessica's gonna hate me for this...) It's kinda like how at the end of this month, the long term ex-pat volunteer population here will suddenly drop to three. Brooke and I will be leaving within days of each other. Luke took off last week. Although former "long termer" Dr. Scott Nelson and future "long termers" Terry and Jeannie Dietirch will be around next week, they'll also be gone by September. Next month, will definitely be a transition period at our hospital. New faces will be filling vacated positions, responsibilities will be shifted, there's still a lot of uncertainty, and plenty of potential for chaos. But God is working here, the "storm" will pass, and His work will continue. Please continue to pray for everyone involved down here.

one month.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Well if you ask David he says that it hasn't been a month yet. Since I arrived on the 16th of July. But I've been here for four weeks and I consider that a month.

It's been absolutely insane. But I have no doubt that this is where I am supposed to be. This month has been hard but I have no doubt that it was the easiest of the six. When August ends there will only be three Americans here full time. That makes me kinda nervous. But God has called everyone else to amazing things. Brooke and Luke have both taken jobs in Haiti with different organizations, and David is returning to beautiful CA to finish school.

Last night I sat on the hospital roof with mountains to my right and back, the ocean in front of me and the sunset to my left. It was the first time I think I've had silence in a month. I was able to think clearly and sing and pray. I was able to feel like God was surrounding me.

Everyday is difficult and often disheartening. But I'm learning how to deal and work around obstacles that make our jobs difficult. I'm seeing that God has a small group of us bridging this gap for the hospital...between long term physicians that are really going to turn this place around. We often feel like we're completely strung out and unable to see much good come from our efforts, but I have no doubt that God is smiling and going to reward our work.

I've met some incredibly faithful men and women, Haitians and Americans, Canadians and Brits all here serving, sweating and hoping that this country is going to turn around.

Haitian people are beautiful and frustrating. Persistent and committed. Eager and often selfless. More than anything they are patient. I've had patients wait on cots with one meal a day for five days to have their bones fixed. They rarely ever complain. I freak out when my patient has been told not to eat (for three days in a row) and never made it to the OR. But they usually just say okay, I've been waiting for seven months...what another few days? It amazes me.

I'm not patient. The Haitian people are trying to help me be. I'm a slow learner but they are very committed.

I realized yesterday that I've been here awhile and still speak little if any's because I don't make or have time to study. But I really believe I need to make it a priority. How do you show love to people you can't communicate with? It's very difficult.

Pray for that. Pray for wisdom in friendships and strength to get everything done. Pray for patience and peace. I don't miss home yet. I am often tired and frustrated but rarely unhappy. God's grace is enough and He is the sustainer.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Me and Jeanty the great!

This used to be an orphanage, well i guess it still is...tents full of orphans at least.

hope for haiti.

Monday was my worst day in Haiti. The only one I’ve really hated actually. I don’t know if it’s the chaos of orienting new people every Monday or the fact that everyone gets sick or injured on Mondays. And Brooke left me for several hours (it’s okay I still love you).

Somehow the day managed to end. This week has been a very different feel as the Ortho surgeon is a Pediatric specialist, and with few Peds surgical cases we are only doing about one case a day.

Kevelyn was transferred back to us (we transferred her to Miami’s hospital for a general surgeon and they sent her back…also contributing to my Monday). She was in a car accident last week with bilateral femur fractures. We discovered yesterday she also has an ankle fracture. That’s what happens when we try to conserve xrays I guess.

Pray for her. She has a long road ahead of her. She’s already fighting infection as Miami did not give her any antibiotics for three days, and she still really could use a transfusion. But there is no blood in Port-au-Prince. (Although I saw one private pay patient being infused yesterday….amazing how that happens).

Everyone seems to be counting down the days for Dr Scott to return for his brief stay. I think we’re all hoping his medical knowledge and male leadership will help to organize things again.

I finally got a list of all the labs we are capable of doing. Now if I could just memorize the medications we have….which is impossible because they change with each incoming team.

Some things will never get easier, but many are.

I had to put my foot down for the first time yesterday regarding a patient’s discharge. There were about six ex-pats arguing whether or not he should depart. I think some of them are still mad at me. But someone’s got to make decisions.

Jeanty, a Haitian translator/OR tech/transporter/caregiver/amazing person keeps a running list of patients without family members. The number keeps growing. If you are in the hospital in Haiti without family no one feeds you, bathes you, or helps you get to the bathroom. It’s an ongoing struggle. The hospital provides one meal a day. But you’re SOL without family for the others. Many of us chip in so that Jeanty can buy them food, but this is something we’ve got to figure out.

We have a sickle cell patient in the ER right now with a hemoglobin of 2.7 and no way of getting any blood. I asked Brooke what they did back in February…it’s not like the “no blood” situation has gotten worse over time. She simply said that the patient’s died. “You do everything you can and then you pray,” Dr Gray said today. That’s the way of life here.

I struggle with whether I’m supposed to accept it or not. It’s not okay that the #1 hospital in the country doing orthopedic surgeries has no access to blood... especially when billions of dollars were donated to the Red Cross. But what can you do? You can’t stay angry because you wouldn’t get anything done.

So you just keep working and hoping. Hoping that the “hope for Haiti” everyone talked about is still out there somewhere.


Friday, July 30, 2010
Joseph in May.

Joseph Stephen was a in-patient when I first came to Haiti on May 12th. He had been admitted in January following the quake and had a severe case of osteomylitis. If you've been here you probably met him. He almost NEVER smiled and if a nurse attempted to do anything to him at all he would scream bloody murder. He was given every toy and balloon available by many teams but still no smiles.

When I arrived two weeks ago he was an out-patient in the tents on campus waiting to have his cast taken off! (external fix to cast). He had it off last week. Now I can't walk outside without him yelling my name and covering me with hugs and smiles. His leg is severely scarred, but he has it!

We plan on discharging him "home" on Monday....just not sure where home will be. I've only ever seen his 12ish year old sister.

"i love the rain, but i hate it for them."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010
I just learned that the anesthesiologist is sleeping in a tent. I’ve been frustrated, borderline angry for a week and a half because we can’t manage to get more than three surgeries done a day, usually only two. Anesthesia only works from 11-4.

But she’s freaking living in a tent. She is a Medical Professional who has worked and studied in France, speaks at least three languages and actually has a paying job. If she can’t get out who can?

I think the first time I was really sad was yesterday. Poverty is always disheartening. But I think one reaches a point of understanding it and isn’t as grossly affected by it. I’ve thought of myself as there.

Yesterday I walked with my Creole teacher, a 16 year old whose parents have left him to fend for himself while working in Panama and the US. His tent is pitched next to what was once his house. It has a big red stamp on it marking it unsafe. It is.

He doesn’t see a future for himself. He thinks his country is dirty and poor and hot. But he says he won’t leave. He says he wants to get education in the US and come back to help. He wants to be a doctor. He is brilliant. He could do it. I hope that he does. Most Haitians who get out don’t come back. I’m not sure I would.

Brooke is officially leaving on August 31st. She needs about four nurses to do her job. I feel like I am successfully doing a small portion of it. I don’t think I can do it all.

I am really enjoying myself. Days are hot and hard and my feet hurt and I’m tired of sweating and annoyed that I have to walk to the ER to find an available translator every 33 minutes in order to get anything accomplished.

But we’re doing some good. I have helped nine patients receive surgery in the eleven days I’ve been here. Most of them were fractures and dislocations hanging out since the earthquake.

Brooke and I went for a walk today. It was perfect. So nice to be able to vent my “nursy” feelings to one who understands. Believe me, all six of the long-termers are wonderful. But there is a different level of responsibility when you’ve taken an oath. That’s something they don’t get. They can’t. When patients die on our watch when something could have been done to prevent it…YOU could have done something to prevent affects you. Deeply. It's that way for nurses in the States, and it doesn't change across an ocean.

Paul Farmer said, “If I don’t work this hard someone will die that doesn’t have to.” I get his feelings. I know Brooke does. She’s been living it for 6 months.

There is so much garbage going on here below the surface, so much mess and corruption. But everyday I update the census and delete someone’s name off of it (because they had been discharged). I know there is good happening. Only by the grace of God.

beach day.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Thank God for Sabbath. For those of you who haven't heard the hospital I am working at is Adventist, so they take their Sabbath on Saturdays. Very little, if anything, goes on at the hospital on this day and while it proves frustrating for patients and family members awaiting surgery, it is a blessing to be able to have a break.

Yesterday following the church service I went along with about six other volunteers to a beach about two hours from us. Two hours being Haitian time, and after our drive out of the way to the Project Hope compound and a flat tire change we were at the beach for about two and a half hours. It was well worth the wait. I've heard tales of muddy beaches and rocky shores in Haiti, but this place was amazing. It was clearly a resort for white people costing $15 US for entry.

The water was clear and beautiful and for the first time I felt as though I was in the Caribbean.

The went swimming, ate hamburgers and enjoyed getting to know each other, although sadly, most of those volunteers left this morning.

I am now beginning to realize Brooke's exhaustion with re-orienting a new doctor every week. Dr Pat and his Ortho team seemed to just have everything under control when their time came to an end. Dr Rich rounded with just me this morning (the crew dropped from about seven people to two in one day) and he seems flexible and ready to go.

Please pray that the Haitian anesthesiologists are open to working hard this week so that we can get some of the 16 surgeries on the list finished. We only got six accomplished last week.

As far as figuring out what my role is going to be here it seems to all be falling into place. I am working directly with the Surgeon volunteers making sure that their patients are ready in pre-op (labs, xrays, EKGs) and moving towards discharge in post-op. I am helping them schedule surgeries and will be working with the Haitian nurses and OR coordinator to make sure they get done. I also update the hospital census daily, right now we only have about 45 inpatients.

All in all life in Haiti has been going well. I am beginning to establish some routine and feel as though things are are being accomplished.

right this minute

Thursday, July 22, 2010
I'm sitting in the staff break room trying to decide what to write. Then it occurred to me that I just need to type what has happened to me the last hour.

Let's start with this minute. Jean Junior, a seven year old HIV+ patient is sitting on my lap. His father died in the middle of the night yesterday leaving him an orphan. We all love him so dearly that it's hard to want to find him somewhere to go...but we know that he must. He needs treatment. He needs adoption. Who adopts HIV positive children? Amy just pulled a suitcase full of donated clothes out of storage....Junior is going through them now.

He only has what's on his back.

About 30 minutes ago, Kristen, a third year pediatric resident from Loma Linda came up to me frustrated to death asking for new batteries for the pulse oximeter. She has a 3 month old in the ER right now struggling to breath. "I've done everything I can do, but he's wearing out and is going to die if I don't intubate him. I talked to Brooke and the only hospital with vents for baby's is full. This is so frustrating. I feel guilty....but I've done all that I can. Should I just intubate and bag him?? But we can't bag him for four this really all I can do!?"

A baby has died everyday that I've been here.

10 minutes later she returned, "Jessica!! God is so good. The Haitian MD in the ER knows of another facility and they will even come get the baby! If everything goes well he can be intubated there tonight!"

God is good.

About an hour ago Dr. Pat and the ortho team finished their second case of the day (another frustration as there are 5-7 patients on the schedule but the Haitian anesthesiologists won't show up till noon and try to leave by 4pm). The operation was on a lady whose ankle has been severely dislocated since the earthquake. She has been walking on the side of her foot.

Hopefully tomorrow she will walk close to normal for the first time in 6 months.

Ighor is sitting next to me waiting for me to finish so that I can have my Creole lesson. Pray that this comes easily. I cannot explain how much easier my day would be if I can master this language.

How amazing it is that our God understands them all.


Sunday, July 18, 2010
All my bags made it!

I found my driver with no trouble at the airport.

The patient I missed the most (Nadine) was sitting on the hospital steps when I arrived.

There is a very "America" grocery store about 3 blocks from here.

Amazing new friends in just 36 hours.

Headache meds have worked (two days in a row).

Sermon yesterday (Saturday=Sabbath) on total depravity...haha. Amazed at spot on theology.

Got to sing "Healing is in your Hands" offertory in church.

Preparations for Creole lessons underway.

It's cooler than when I was last here!

Ortho Surgeon arrived last night.

How Great is Our God.

contacting me in Haiti

Thursday, July 15, 2010
Hey everyone!

Looks like the best way to reach me is through text messages. I have my same cell phone number. It's free for me to receive and $.10 to reply, but I can reply for free from 706-623-2515. So that's me if you receive a text from that number.

My skype name is jezkascott and I also have a magicjack so making phone calls is no problem. If you need to talk to me just text and I'll call you back as soon as I can!

email is easy too

I love and will miss you all!
Fly out tomorrow at 6:50am

Thanks for all the prayers, they mean more than you know!

~ Jess

"the only real nation is humanity"

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Yesterday I returned from a few days at the beach with some of my dearest friends. While there one of my goals was to start and finish one of the books my brother gave me for my birthday in June. I'm proud to say I did it. I had asked him to give me some books on Haiti, whether that meant politics, culture, religion, medicine or really long as they weren't too long or too boring. I'm not sure whether he did research or just has a nack for picking books (I suspect both) but the one I've completed was unbelievable.

It's called Mountains Beyond Mountains which is a Haitian proverb basically meaning that there are always going to be more hurdles even when you've overcome what is in front of you. The book is a biography about Dr. Paul Farmer (DP) by Tracey Kidder (TK). Dr Farmer is an infectious disease physican who graduated from Duke, then Harvard and spend the majority of his time (even while enrolled in classes) taking care of Tuberculosis and HIV patients in Haiti. He left for Haiti at age 23 and almost singlehandedly started the organization Partners in Health (along with an 18 year old British girl) which is now serving in Boston, Haiti, Peru, Rwanda, Russia, Malawi, Burundi, Mexico and Guatemala.

Crazy thing too is that I applied for a job with Partners in Health a couple months ago (that I was completely unqualified for) knowing very little about them, except their renown work in ID. Now I think I could easily work for them forever if the job ever presented itself.

I can't really recommend the book to non-medical personnel as there were pages filled with treatments for multi-drug-resistent-tuberculosis and analysis on HIV medications (which I found intriguing). But if you think you can skim through those pages then I'm sure you'd find the book a phenomenal read.

I'd like to share some of my favorite quotes...

The world is full of miserable places. One way of living comfortably is not to think about them or, when you do, to send money. ~ DP

...wild screams erupted from the child. "She's crying, 'It hurts, I'm hungry.' Can you believe it? Only in Haiti would a child cry out that she's hungry during a spinal tap." ~TK

Giving people medicine for TB and not giving them food is like washing your hands and drying them in the dirt. ~Haitian public health worker

Just when you thought you had the hang of [DP's] worldview he'd surprise you. He had problems with groups that on the surface would have seemed like allies, that were allies in fact, with for example what he called "WL's" or white liberals, some of whose most influential spokespeople were black and prosperous. 'I love WL's, love 'em to death. They're on our side,' he had told me. 'But WL's think all the world's problems can be fixed without any cost to themselves. We don't believe that. There's a lot to be said for sacrifice, remorse, even pity. It's what separates us from roaches.' ~TK

You want to see where Christ crucified abides today? Go to where the poor are suffering and fighting back, and that's where He is. ~DP

The fact that any sort of religious faith was so disdained at Harvard and so important to the poor- not just in Haiti but elsewhere, too- made me even more convinced that faith must be something good. ~DP

spoken to DP's associate...why do you call your patients poor people? They don't call themselves poor people!? "Ok, how about soon-dead people?"

The goofiness of radicals thinking they have to dress in Guatemalam peasant clothes. The poor don't want you to look like them. They want you to dress in a suit and go get them food and water. ~DP

I remember signing the oath to assist the patient and do him no harm. I don't really remember signing that I would do it in a cost-effective way. ~ DP (DP's team spent $18,000 flying an eleven year old boy from a village in Haiti to Boston for treatment. The patient was untreatable even in Boston. Farmer had no regrets).

The problem is, if I don't work this hard. Someone will die who doesn't have to. ~DP

....he murmured something about how much could be done in Haiti if only he could get his hands on the money that the first world spent on pet grooming.~TK

All the great religious traditions of the world say, Love thy neighbor as thyself. My answer is, I'm sorry, I can't, but I'm gonna keep on trying. ~DP

All too often international aid organizations weaken the societies they are supposed to help. Often they rely almost entirely on professionals from the world's wealthiest countries, and they fail to make their projects indigenous. This all but guarentees that their projects will neither grow nor last. PIH is different. The organization now has on the order of 6,500 employees. The overwhelming majority come from the impoverished countries where PIH is working. Fewer than one hundred of the employees come from the United States. ~TK

There is all the difference in the world between witnessing misery and witnessing people at work trying to relieve misery. ~TK

I wish I could explain all the ways this book has inspired, challenged, moved and given me hope. I'm not sure I can. But the fear that was inside to me, the freak out moments that I've had the last three weeks when all the sudden I'll stop while pumping gas or walking in Walmart and all I think is, WHAT THE H-E-double-hockey sticks am I doing?!?!?! are gone.

I'm no Paul Farmer but I can give a lot of time towards relieving someone's misery.