I left the mission Friday morning to prove to myself that something could get done. Praying something could get done.
Leaving the baby Marius case behind for a while, I went to Port-au-Prince to see Madame Felius and try to get answers for how to help her, who can help her, and where to help her.
Skipping ahead to the end of the day, upon our return Tara asked Peter how things went. He used a one word description - "Tragedy". I'm sticking with my three word theme. I'm going with "nothing works here".
Walking through General Hospital looking for Madame Felius, I told Peter I already know what hell looks like - and we were in it. It seemed a little better than last time I was there for Madame Bozor, but this time I didn't see the same rooms. We walked through four or five large rooms full of beds and suffering people until we found her. It was worth it to see her smile when she saw us. She's laying in that awful place, and has been for weeks now. More than three weeks ago she broke her femur at the hip joint, and has had nothing but the equivalent of tylenol to ease the pain, and she smiles and kisses me on the cheek when I greet her. Absolutely amazing.
She is in good spirits, even though :
-Her son hasn't been there to see her in over a week (been too busy, and hasn't had time to donate blood that she will need for a surgery either). In Haiti, there is a blood bank, but you can't take any out of it unless members of your family/friends come in and donate some to replace it. NOTHING WORKS HERE.
-Her husband comes and goes whenever I give him money to visit her, lingers around for a few days, and then goes back to his failing garden. He has asked already if we can take her out of the hospital and visit some local faith-healing-bone-mending-potion-brewing quacks who are - in my mind - probably only in it for the money and by no means qualified to change a bandage.
-So far the expert treatment she's received at General is to have a bucket of sand tied to her leg to stretch it out and try to get the bones to align. Her current Doctor is suggesting that we wait three weeks to see if it heals, take an X-ray, and then determine if surgery will be needed. Maybe she'd be better off with the quacks after all.
I explained to her that we were taking the existing X-rays to show other Doctors and try to find her help somewhere else. She was so happy to see us I don't even think she heard anything we said.
We then drove all over Port, visiting two other hospitals, two clinics, and finally a medical organization called Healing Hands (thanks Cheryl for the referral). This is one of the places that is willing to look at finding help for baby Marius. Things had been looking really bad, but then we were shocked to find someone who started making calls and actually trying to help us. We ended up being escorted to the office of an orthopedic surgeon who is very competent and ready and willing to help. For a price. As we discussed all the options and requirements to get her surgery done, I quickly realized that the money we thought we would need is nowhere near enough.
The amount we thought it would take was based on the initial quote from "Dr. Bucket of Sand" at General Hospital. He was guessing that the initial procedure for her would cost around eight hundred US dollars. For the real surgeon, who can do it right - knows what he is doing - showed us some of his previous work with similar cases - is confident and willing to help - and will not tie any buckets on, we learned that it will take more like three thousand US dollars. He was willing and able to get things set up and do the procedure on Monday.
In checking around we found two other options, but they were both even more expensive. That cost includes the materials (pins and possible prosthetics), the procedure, hospitalization, and some medicine. I still don't know about the cost of other medicines, the cardio-pulmonary exam that will be necessary, or the anesthesiologist.
I was thrilled to be meeting helpful people, and then excited about the contacts we were making, and hopeful we could get this done for her - and then my faith bubble was burst while I did the math on my cellphone's calculator. For a while it looked like something might actually work here...and maybe it can. Now we wait and see what God has in mind. His ways are higher, and knows why I'm running around desperately trying to find help that either isn't there or is out of reach.
Defeated and feeling deflated, Peter and I dropped off our helpful escort from Healing Hands, said our 'thank-you's and 'goodbye's and our 'we'll see what we can do's. So close, but yet so far.
After eating a sandwich made from some questionable meat products in downtown Port, we felt refreshed enough to make a last-ditch effort to see if we could get more help at General Hospital. That sandwich must have been laced with some serious hallucinogenics.
Dr. Bucket was completely useless, and obviously not interested in helping us find alternate solutions for Mme. Felius - and even admitted that he's scared to do the surgery route because it's so complicated. And the surgery they're considering consists of some temporary metal supports being attached to the bone and then being removed later in a subsequent surgery - not a permanent proper solution like we'd found elsewhere. One Dr. says that he's confident she could walk again - the other one (Bucket) says there is no way to know.
The good news is that I've at least learned enough living here and possibly been refined enough that I can handle all of it, and still laugh. At least I try. I called Zach on the phone and told him my really inappropriate joke I came up with while banging my head on the steering wheel in the parking lot of General Hospital. I told him that it was a good thing that Job's friends (you know, the Job in the Bible with the boils, etc.) weren't around - because I'm pretty sure I'd reached the point where they would be saying: "Curse God and die" - you know, just get it over with, man, and let Him put you out of your misery. (I even have the boils on my neck now.) We got a good laugh out of that - the kind of laughing where you're just doing it so you don't cry or go insane.
On the long drive home, here are the things that I reflected on:
With the money that was donated previously (including that which wasn't used yet for baby Marius), we have about half of what will be required to get Mme. Felius the surgery she needs. That was actually encouraging to realize we're not as far off as I thought when looking at the totals.
I don't have any idea what will happen or what God wants or anything. I just don't know. So, we're letting go and letting God. Tara and I are visiting her on Monday, and all we're going to do is pray. I might even take the church there sometime next week and see if His plan is just to blow through that wretched hospital and heal her on the spot...and if I feel that power moving I might just ask for an X-ray to see how she's all back together again. God can do that, and we might get to see it.
The money to fix her up the boring medical fleshly human way might just come in miraculously, too. Hey, His plans are perfect, so I'll be happy either way.
Here is what makes me mad and want to curse something - like this country or it's leaders or the devil and his deception. I looked back and saw that I'd spent two days giving everything I had to find help and make something work in this place where nothing works, only to make little or no progress. That I can deal with. What brought me to tears, however, was the realization that there are countless other cases just like these all over this country - but those deformed babies or suffering women don't have anyone out there running all over trying to help them - even if we don't find help - at least they have some hope.
Many of the others, though, are laying in a mud hut with a thatch roof with no hope and waiting for a miracle or more likely death. Sometimes the relief of death seems like a miracle to me for some who suffer here... and it's the same all over the world, outside of North America and our freeways and gated communities and superstores and sit-coms. Sorry for getting preachy, but it's the truth. More people in the world live like the people here than the 'civilized' world likes to think about or acknowledge. That other world (which I am from and join in the guilt of being ignorant and blind) will throw money at the problems and hope they go away.
These two sad cases, out of all the hundreds we've seen, and the thousands or millions in this country - are the ones God has put before us and laid on our hearts and really convicted us to get involved and try to help. I don't know why, but I'm sure it's good. Baby Marius might be in heaven already right now, and Madame Felius too, I don't know. But that sure would be better for them than being here. Or maybe we're going to see a miracle happen. Or maybe we'll watch God's awesome provision and perfect timing come through yet again.
Whatever it is - God is in it, so it will be good, and He will be praised and glorified. Hallelujah.
New three words - Selman avek Jezi - Only with Jesus