Wednesday, February 28
This is what I needed to read today as I face all my fears and worry, it is good to remember this:
(taken from page 28, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day)
Most of our problems are not circumstantial. Most of our problems are perceptual. Our biggest problems can be traced back to an inadequate understanding of who God is. Our problems seem really big because our God seems really small. In fact, we reduce God to the size of our biggest problem.
Tozer said a "low view of God...is the cause of a hundred lesser evils." But a person with a high view of God "is relieved of ten thousand temporal problems."
A low view of God and a high view of God are the difference between scaredy-cats and lion chasers. Scaredy-cats are filled with fear because their God is so small. Lion chasers know that their best thought about God on their best day falls infinitely short of how great God really is.
Tuesday, February 27
Today, I had a new stitches patient. Fairly basic; a machete cut to an eighteen-year-old's middle finger on his right hand. One attempted digital block (& then a second try, but I think he was bluffing that he could still feel it) and seven stitches later = tout bagay bien! (all's well)
In other news, Krisnel, the machete-meets-wrist cut is doing very well. His body took the stitches, so the small risk was well worth it. Today he brought me a huge bag full of those Didy Eau sacs .... oh! for those who don't know the joy of drinking water from a little plastic pouch. ;) I thought it was a nice gesture; random, but nice.
I have been invited to go work with Dr. JA in Montrois again. Next Monday he is scheduling a day full of operating, I think I'll get to do a lot of stitching - closing up after surgery. Of course, I am totally stoked about that!
Well, I better get to bed. I spent the day starting my pre-calc class, now that I finally have my graphing calculator. (thank you, Lisas) I wanted to do a chemistry lab, but had to wait for my dad to get back from the grocery store with red cabbage. Apparently red cabbage acts as an indicator (for acids & bases) so we'll test that theory out tomorrow. Have a great Wednesday!
Oh and Poppy and I plan to get up and slap another coat of glow-in-the-dark paint on the cross. The glowing worked better on my clothes than it did on the cross. We have to do some re-formulating; we're going to 'up' the pigment concentration. I think that should count as a chem lab, don't you?
Kids learn how to relate to people by talking on-line and in text messaging. They don't actually need to know how to shake hands, make eye contact, or make small talk in this day and age.
Noah is on the fast track to being a punk kid too.
I am mostly kidding, Noah does not actually use the Internet .. but he pretends to. I do think that it has to be part of the reason so many kids don't know how to interact with others very well.
It's good that Noah (and the other kids) can be exposed to new people all the time, we can balance out his Internet addiction with all the real-live-human (team) interaction.
I got a ride a home with Beth today after our Psychologist interview. She had lunch here before having to head back to Port. The interview was sort of non-existent. We had to talk about how we handle difficulty, and where we went to high-school and college. Really probing stuff like that. It took 13 minutes.
AA delayed the flight by more than an hour. The team won't get in until almost sunset. I left Dad and Troy to pick them up. Now that we see it will be 80% night driving, I am especially glad that I am not behind the wheel of either truck.
This is the very unlucky cow that is breathing his last oxygen right now ... poor guy is on death row and he doesn't even know it. Rony and Adam just came to get me to give them my stamp of approval.
I get it when they ask Troy, but what the heck do I know?
I went out and nodded, smiled and said "bon bef" ---- (nice cow) that seemed to be the response they wanted, so they took the poor cow to eat one of his last meals on the hill. I will be nowhere to be found when they kill this thing, I do not need to learn the process for that. No thanks. I like to think of cows packaged in the grocery store ... nothing prior to that.
For now, all we were able to do was provide them with some vitamins and peanut butter, and encouraged him to take Islande to the clinic in Cazale. I'm not sure if medicine and short-term treatment will be all she needs, or if she will have to be admitted to their rescue center to be nursed back to health. I pray that they can help her there. Fortunately we have those friends with such an amazing ministry and resource for the Haitian people, and a place to help children like these. It is not only a blessing to the Haitians, but also to us when we are at a loss for how to help. I hope our clinic can someday do the same.
I struggled with what to say or write about her, but kept looking at her picture tonight, and then read a devotional by Oswald Chambers. It helped me remember where the answer lies and where the only hope is for all of the sad stories like this one. It reminded me that there is nothing that God cannot do. There is nothing outside of His power to handle. His almighty power is there even despite our inability to comprehend it.
I can't comprehend how hard this little girl's life is. But He knows.
Monday, February 26
Sunday, February 25
Dad's main observation after working around here for two days. "Boy, doesn't Troy get tired of having an audience. That would drive me nuts."
Yes. Troy has missed having alone time. A lot. I think we all have. Except maybe Paige. The constant togetherness with everyone who works here can be a bit much. Sometimes I wish I could go for a run and no one would look at me or speak to me.
The guys that are on-property and watching while projects happen are very good guys, just wanting to learn and help. We don't fault them.
It's just that thing where Americans like a little space, a little alone time, a little room to do a few things privately. As Troy pointed out to Dad, there really is no concept of privacy. If someone has a fight, the whole village hears. If someone needs a bath they head to the canal for public bathing. The restroom is not even private. I suppose it's a little tough to get alone when your house is 12 by 12 and you have six kids living there with you. Getting alone to clear your head is an idea of our culture, not this one.
We do miss the opportunity for solitude though. In MN Troy used to go out at night and hang in the garage (male crisis center) just to decompress and tinker around. If he did that here someone would come up within three minutes to "help." We have never figured out a way to politely say "please leave - I need to be alone" when someone is just there to be kind and help.
On a positive note. Every time you go to the bathroom, you get alone time. Maybe that explains why Troy goes so often. ;-)
Noah's birthday is coming up soon, we're calling tomorrow his family beach day - because we won't be going next Monday on his actual B-day. (The beach is a birthday guarantee in Haiti.) We'll get some work done here in the morning first. After we're done working we'll let Dad/Gramps get totally ripped off at the beach. No matter how many times I work it - I cannot figure out how rice, noodles, bread, and some cruddy chicken equals a $25 meal/admission price.
Saturday, February 24
The table kicks-butt ... I will not photograph it until it is totally finished, it has paint and varnish now but needs the legs to be added on. I am pumped. It will seat 14. We have a very exicted guy on our road who took the order for 14 chairs. Because it is very rustic looking and not at all traditional - all the employees around here think we're weird. They don't understand why I want a table that large or why it looks like some old weathered thing. Apparently they're not familiar with shabby-chic or the idea of rustic looking tables.
Isaac got in on the work and shoveled out the rain drain for his daddy. He was happy about it too! All of my kids are so fun and unique, but something about an Isaac grin just warms this moms heart.
Friday, February 23
This picture makes Paige look a lot less brilliant than she actually is. I am posting it to annoy her, but also because I love how Phoebe's eyes are peeking over the table.
Britt, Phoebe and I won the negotiations to go get Papa/Dad from the airport. When he came out Britt said "There he is." I said, "That's not him unless he got his hair cut really short and he is wearing a sport coat." Britt said "Right. That would be him." Like he always says, He may not always be the best looking, but he always tries to look his best. Even in Haiti.
Yesterday was a 10 hour day of Port au Prince. My love for the city does not grow on days like that. We checked out a new store called Mega mart and did lots and lots of shopping for the big convention Lifeline is hosting and for the team coming early next week. We made a critical error in our planning. We wanted Britt and Paige to get their full day of school work completed. To make that possible we decided we should take Phoebe and Jack-Jack along with us. Bad idea. At one point Troy and I both had two carts while holding a kid. Two carts, one kid, two arms. Even if you're bad at math you recognize the dilemma. Then an employee at Mega-mart thought he should show Jack the toy aisle. Thanks for that Mr employee-of-the-week. We got out of there for $2.00 with a rubbery ball that has a light inside, it could have been much worse. When we got home Jack did exactly what we asked him not to do and paraded around with it lording it over Hope and Isaac. Nice kid Troy's got there.
Mega mart is not carrying a lot of the stuff we traditionally buy for teams so we needed to go to Caribbean Market too. As it turns out Caribbean market was not carrying ground beef or cheese again yesterday. A grocery store without cheese and beef. That happens all the time where you are, right?
We met with a Social Worker from IBESR to start our homestudy. He was a nice guy and liked that Troy spoke Creole and I tried to speak tiny-cruddy-little amounts of Creole. He asked a lot of the expected questions and it was basically painless. We meet with a psychologist next week. I'm not sure how that will look, but if they are gauging our sanity - we will not have Jack with us for that appointment. He hurt himself once in front of the IBESR guy then disappeared, only to scream for help as he was suspended in air hanging from very high monkey bars. I got to him right before his massive pipes gave out. Crisis averted.
We were telling John McHoul and his assistant Junior about our Mega mart experience. A new store is big news among missionaries. The word spreads fast and everybody wants to know what it is like. How is the service, how are the prices, and what about the selection? Troy told Junior that the service was super. He went on to tell him about things that have never happened to us here. Like when the guy searched the warehouse for more paper plates and when the guy went to get a flat-bed cart because clearly we were not managing our kids and merchandise very well. Troy said "They are really pretty fast there. It was great." Junior, a life-long resident of this great land said "Oh, don't worry, that will change. They are fast now but it won't last."
At 2pm we finally found time to stop for lunch. We met Zach and Sharon at Dominoes Pizza. I think Dominoes might be the singular chain business from the USA that exists and is still operational here. You can search high and low and never find a McDonald's, a Starbucks, or a Applebees. Sigh. Zach had been running around Port too. He had this amazing guy with him. If you've read Lori's blog you might be familiar with his story. He walks on his hands and knees because his legs won't extend, they're working on finding a surgeon to help him. He is 22 years old and has never walked. He is a really neat guy and you can tell Zach loves him. Noah just could not believe what he was seeing as we watched the way he left the pizza place on all fours and got into the truck. He moves every bit as fast as us even without being upright.
It rained a lot last night. We're anxious to enter into rainy season. Everything smells like urine this morning, which is not the part we're anxious for but at least it means that the next rain might smell a little better.
Today is my niece's 14th Birthday. I have not seen her since she was about five days old. It is a day that (as I wrote here last year) I find myself praying for my sister and both of the Birth-moms of our Haitian kids. It is kind of like our unofficial Birth-Mom day.
Tina, you are brave and premuim quality. February 23rd is a day that reminds me to thank God for brave women like you. Praying for you and for Syd today. May God give you comfort and peace today. I miss you and am so excited for April!
Go here to read last years thoughts. A lot has changed regarding our birth-moms since then.
Dad will show up here this afternoon Si Bondye Vle. We're currently in negotiations over who gets to go along to pick him up.
Thursday, February 22
Well, there have been several complaints about my lack of posting on the blog. I'm sure that some of you (probably most) have enjoyed the lack of gory pictures; but I aim to please. I finally have some material worth posting. On my computer, I have a folder for each month's medical-related photos. A 'January' folder doesn't even exist - that proves how slow things have been over the last month and a half. Looking through my medical log ... the most interesting cases have been:
Our first grade teacher, Franchesca, brushed by a school desk and got a long, deep splinter. I had to 'surgically' remove it because it was inaccessible from the surface. I did this by removing a small almond-shaped piece of skin in order to reach the splinter. It was about two inches long. I stitched it up afterwards and it has long since healed. (no photos, sorry. Or maybe you're welcome. ;)
Quite a few toenails have fallen off (of various kids and adults.) Causes include: moto accident, falling in a soccer game, and thrown rocks. I've never had my toenail fall off, but it is apparently very painful. I am led to believe this by the way that missing-toenail patients behave during dressing changes.
On January 21st, I stitched a three year olds forehead. He got cut while carrying a bucket on his head. It was a fairly small cut and only took about a week to heal. He was very cute and sweet; I will have to track him down and take a picture of him sometime.
On February 8th, a man named Joseph came with a cut thumb. It happened the day before; he had been working, cutting branches with his machete. He was very fortunate; the cut almost severed the entire tip of his thumb. I was afraid that the bone was exposed and that thumb would need to be amputated back to the joint. After a successful digital block to numb the thumb, I checked and didn't find/feel the bone. Because it was far more than 12-15 hours after the accident (and therefore couldn't be sutured), I used steri-strips to hold the edges of the cut together. It took about a week to heal.
On February 11th, a very upset eight year old boy named Rod came with a small cut above his lip. He and his older sister had gotten into an argument (or were play-fighting, who knows), in which she punched him ... and hard too. He was very afraid - I knew I was in for it when he started screaming "Pa koud li! Pa koud li! Pa touche'm!" (Don't stitch it! don't stitch it! Don't touch me!) before we ever started. Luckily I had Paige's assistance in calming him down. Rod definitely tested my Creole reasoning skills. (Wi, cheri, si nou bo ou piki, ou pa ap santi anyen - li bon pou ou, fe konfyans'm. Yes, darling, if we give you a shot, you won't feel anything - it's good for you, trust me. And on and on. :) The fact that he could see everything that I was doing was more difficult too. But four stitches later and he was as good as new. The whole sibling thing bummed me out but then again, I did once run over Paige (specifically her nose) with a bike in a game of chicken. :D
To the Michigan team: Chasverli, the two year old girl's abscess healed up very well. It closed up completely yesterday.
On February 18th, a man named Aysif came, already bandaged. This is one of the things I dread the most .... because usually if it has already been bandaged, it is too late to do stitches and usually requires cleaning up after somebody else's less-than-satisfactory work. I'm not conclusively bashing Haitian health-care, but I have yet to see a wound sutured properly/effectively in this area. And again, there is that short window-of-opportunity after the accident occurs to get it sutured. This man was hit by a motorcycle, or more-like fell when a motorcycle brushed by him too quickly. I feel for him, I can't count the number of times we've almost been hit while running. Anyway, he'd gone somewhere in Archaie for stitches for the small cuts next to his eye and on his scalp. I removed the stitches because the scalp cut was infected and the thread in the eye was falling out on its own anyway. He is doing alright, both cuts are close-to healed. Today I gave him a tube of triple antibiotic ointment and some bandaids for him to finish the job. As I was handing him his dressing supplies, I noticed this:
This picture does it no justice. This is a broken bone that was never set/casted/diagnosed. Surprisingly, he has almost full range of motion. It happened seven years ago when he and his brother were working, cutting wood with machetes. They must have been working side-by-side, because his brother missed the wood and came down on Ayisf's thumb. He said he got it stitched at a hospital in St. Marc but that they weren't too concerned with the bone. I believe him.
This afternoon, a 21 year old named Krisnel came. He too came, already bandaged, and looking for follow-up care for his wrist laceration. The accident happened last night around 7pm. He fell and landed on un kout (small-version of a machete) that was lying on the ground. He arrived here around 3:30 ... so that clearly is past the 12-15 hour window that I usually go by for suture patients. Maybe it wasn't the right thing to do, but I decided to give it a try. I explained to him the risk that his body might reject the stitches because it had been close to twenty-four hours since the accident. He understood and agreed that it was worth a try. It looked much better after I jet-washed it out, but this is the before:
They hadn't put anything on the wound, just wrapped it in gauze and tape. I've never stitched a cut this late after it happened, but it was very clean to begin with and I just felt that this one could handle it. I also have heard that the window of opportunity is more like 24 hours. Maybe in America, but I've rarely seen that rule of thumb apply here. It will be interesting to see when he comes tomorrow for a bandage change. I don't want to call it an experiment, but I am anxious to see how his body handles it. If it rejects the stitches, then we'll just remove them and use steri-strips to hold it together while it heals.
Although this year has started out fairly slow,
- As of January 1st, 2007, I've seen 70 patients. (This is counting individuals, not return-visits/patients-per-day.)
- 4 of these have been for stitches
- About 25% of visits were because of a machete-inflicted wound
- 50% of visits, cuts and burns, were the result of bad motorcycle driving
- 10% = scabies, heat/diaper rashes
- The remaining 15% is miscellaneous: ear infections, minor abrasions, a few new fatty cysts, and a new tropical ulcer.
The only other thing I can think of to tell you is that baby Lovely is doing very well, she is up to 13 pounds. I know that doesn't seem like a lot, but she is still getting formula and doesn't look skinny at all. She seems to be getting longer twice as fast as wider; we think she is going to be a very tall girl.
I am still seeing Krispe every-other-day; he is alright. I realized the other day that I really love him, that changing his bandage is not burdensome at all and that I worry about him when he doesn't show up. I regret ever feeling that the five minutes of work every other day was a pain. I'm human, and non-responsive wound-care can be a real downer, but I'm glad I realized my mistake. His ulcer remains the same; with the meticulous bandage changes, we've been able to keep it infection-free but have not seen any improvement/shrinkage in its size.
Thanks for listening to me ramble off random medical stories. And for those who are fans of the blood and gore, realize that if I had more pictures - I would so post them. :)
Wednesday, February 21
Troy has never received the court papers from the teacher who quit. We'd like to believe it is over and we'll never hear of it again, but knowing what we know about the culture we're sure there is more to come. The mistake Troy made was indeed a learning experience. To fill in the story - Troy walked in on a teacher beating some kids who were late. In this culture that is not a big deal. (Can you imagine if your kid could be beat by his/her teacher for being tardy?) But, even if it is acceptable in this culture there are rules here that don't allow it to happen without a process, a witness and following protocol. Troy was upset to find this and grabbed the teachers arm. No, no - no. Bad move. The employee was upset that Troy touched his arm - he quit on the spot and thought 15K (USD) would be an appropriate reward for his trouble. We had a hardy chuckle at that amount and that is what led to the judge coming out. Since then nothing has been said or done and no papers have been served. A valuable lesson was learned though. No matter how offended and upset we are, we are responsible to not let our humanness allow for an emotional reaction. Good luck to us with that. (Moral of the story: We suck, which is why we need Jesus.)
Back when our friend Fran was here a cool thing happened. If you have not checked out the blog she keeps, you should. The ministry she is working with helps children get to the States for medical care, then returns them to Haiti and their family. I have been meaning to tell tell you about the cool Godincidence that happened when she was here. Fran spent three days with us. One of the days happened to be a day that Mark Fulton had invited us to join his medical-team at the beach. When we arrived at to meet them Mark introduced us to a neonatologist that worked at an Indy hospital. Fran is fostering a baby with HUGE medical needs right now. (You can read about him on her blog if you go back to older posts.) The baby started in Indy and had surgery there before coming to live with her in Virginia late last year. The Doc she met up with happened to have access to a ton of information Fran needed to help the little boy who lives with her. Fran is from Virginia, the baby is from Port, the Doctor is from Indiana. They met on a beach in Haiti and the result of that meeting is that Fran can now better help Ched (the baby) and found a connection to a Doctor who can help her with Ched's past and his future. There are no coincidences there. God things are so cool to witness when you recognize them as such.
Tuesday, February 20
Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one's heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell God your troubles, that God may comfort you; tell God your joys, that God may sober them; tell God your longings, that God may purify them; tell God your dislikes, that God may help you conquer them; talk to God of your temptations, that God may shield you from them: show God the wounds of your heart, that God may heal them. If you thus pour out all your weaknesses, needs, troubles, there will be no lack of what to say. Talk out of the abundance of the heart, without consideration say just what you think. Blessed are they who attain to such familiar, unreserved intercourse with God.
Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons; but they are helpless against our prayers.
-J. Sidlow Baxter
"Fat babies have no pride." - Lyle Lovett
Monday, February 19
This is where the debate begins. Troy says that because the jar above begins with 2111 (which is the jar in our kitchen) that we should pitch it out. *I* say that is just nonsense.
First, we already ate from that jar and we're fine. Second, we live in a country where throwing away food is an atrocity. Third, look at the "best by" date. You cannot tell me this peanut butter is the affected peanut butter ... this jar has not been on a shelf in America for two years ... it went "bad" in May of last year and would not have been available for purchase.
*I* think it is a different batch of 2111 that was recalled --- a newer batch. We eat almost all food that is past its "best by" date down here ... someone buys it, donates it, it sits in a warehouse for a year, then it shows up here and finally we get around to eating it long after its peanutty goodness is past its peak.
I am not throwing away peanut butter. If Troy wants to toss it he will need to do it under the cover of darkness, I'll have no part of that. He will also have to burn it because none of our neighbors are going to let a perfectly good jar of peanut butter sit in the trash.
Paige is with Troy.
Subject: FW: Peanut Butter recall
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2007 15:20:01 -0600
Dang, this is a peanut butter catastrophe!! It's good to know though that we third-worlders aren't the only ones with the infected nastiness. Seriously, who wants salmonella? Not I.
From: Collins, Jennifer on behalf of CollegeCommunications
Sent: Mon 2/19/2007 3:01 PM
Subject: Peanut Butter recall
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is warning consumers to avoid eating certain jars of Peter Pan and Great Value brand peanut butter due to concerns that the products may be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.
The affected jars of Peter Pan and Great Value brand peanut butter have a product code that begins with "2111" on the lid of the jar. Both varieties of peanut butter were manufactured at a ConAgra facility in Georgia, and MDH believes some of the product was distributed to Minnesota stores. ConAgra has recalled all Peter Pan and Great Value brand peanut butter beginning with the product code "2111," and MDH advises consumers who purchased these jars to discard them. Great Value peanut butter made by other manufacturers and not featuring the "2111" code is not affected.
If you have any concerns please visit the NWC Health Services office. They are open Monday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Tuesday-Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can also reach them at 651-631-5246.
If you think you may have consumed the affected peanut butter, please visit your local Urgent Care or other clinic. Salmonella symptoms may include fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Symptoms usually begin within 12 to 72 hours after exposure, but can begin up to a week after exposure.
- Health Services