Monday, January 18, 2010

Pa bliye'm

Tent cities are popping up all over town. You guys probably know more than us about where those tents came from, but everywhere we go we see them. Lots of them are Coleman "real" camping tents. Our neighborhood has mostly standing houses, probably mostly safe to sleep in, but still the soccer field has a tent city.

The reports of violence - we don't get those. Have not seen it. Have not experienced it. Nothing even remotely close. People are helping each other and are warm and kind and humble. People are seeking each other out and checking to see how friends/acquaintances are recovering. Today the man who owns our house stopped by. His name is Dodo. He was sitting outside waiting for us when I walked home mid afternoon. I was so happy to see him alive and I hugged him and asked how his family fared. A true Haitian response he said, "Yo byen, gras a Dye" - by the grace of God they were okay. I took him inside to show him how well the house he build came through a gianormous earthquake. He was beaming. We high fived twice to celebrate his good work building a solid structure. He left the gate with a spring in his step. It made me happy.
On Saturday (which feels like a lifetime ago) Troy and John went into Simone Pele to visit with the people of that area and assess their situation. We have ties to the community due to a monthy pre-natal outreach we’ve been doing there. It is considered a rougher area by most.
On that day Troy talked with a young woman named Collette in Simone Pele. She is 7 months pregnant and had suffered a broken pelvis during the earthquake. There was a giant yard area where many were gathered and injured. They had not received medical attention. He was standing next to where she was lying and talking to other people gathered around. She grabbed his hand and made eye contact and said, “Pa Bliye’m.” (Don’t forget me.)
Troy told her he would be back to get her on Monday. She had been unable to move for days at that point.
This morning John McHoul (head of Heartline Ministries) and John Ackerman (a nurse in Haiti) went back to Simone Pele to get our first load of patients.
When they got to the house Troy immediately looked for Collette. They had not picked her up. There were so many with crooked bones or with bleeding, infected and oozing wounds that her broken pelvis did not look serious enough to get her on the first truck.
In the afternoon the first round of patients (that did not have to stay on IV fluid) were returned to Simone Pele. Troy needed to bring more patients back to the Docs and nurses. He was not going to leave without Collette. The guy that was with him kept finding other patients and Troy kept reminding him that he needed to keep looking until they found her.
After backing the truck in to get very close to her so she could be moved with the least pain possible, Troy got out of the truck to hear Collette screaming “Merci Jezi, Merci Jezi” while waving her arms wildly.
Troy said it was all he could do to spit out the words, “M pa bliye ou” (I didn't forget you) without bursting into tears in front of all the tough guys standing around watching.
Tonight Collette rests under the care of volunteer Docs and Nurses at the Heartline Women’s Center house.
A very spirited and silly 13 year old young man named Patrick came in with a broken leg bone. The Docs did some sort of miracle thing that got it re-set. He was fairly doped-up for the procedure. Afterward when he was chatting up a storm and acting loopy he informed us that tomorrow he is heading to New York, he sees no reason to live in Haiti and he is getting the heck out of dodge. In reality, he'll be attached to the cement block that is providing traction for his leg for the next three weeks. After that, who knows, maybe New York.
Day one of the clinic went really well ... especially for the "third world" - now renamed into some unknown category, in a damaged non-hospital building with people that have never met each other. Dr. Jen, Dr. Boyle, Dr. McKnight and Dr. Rice are seeing amazing cases.
It seems that lots of folks were treated at home or by a friend or in some sort of make-shift clinic in the early hours following the earthquake. The problem is, they were not given follow up instructions and now they have major infections. In some cases they were wrapped with an ace bandage when in fact they have a major fractured bone.
Every patient we saw today was given a follow up appointment card for the coming days. These injuries are far too serious to treat and send away for good. Lori Moise of RHFH joined our group and she is one of the most talented suture-ers (new word) I have ever watched. She did beautiful work all day long. The team also has EMT Vivien and RN's Joanna Theile and Morgan McHoul as well as midwives Jonna Howard and Lisa Buxman.
The rest of us disinfected, ran around to get supplies, tried to prioritize patients, took phone calls, came up with systems which in reality we could not implement, (TIH) did research and tried to stay clear of things that might make us faint. At one point in the day I walked by a guy that needed to pee. He was very vocal about it too. I looked around and found no one to help him ... I was it. Not something I can say I had ever done before today. Helping a non-ambulatory male go pee.
My favorite part of the day was getting to be the one to deliver the news to a Mom that her child did not need an amputation on her broken leg. We prayed and hugged and rejoiced together. A good moment.
Several times a day it hits me that everything has changed. For us, for them, for so many families abroad with lost and missing loved ones here. I don't know what the future holds for Haiti. It is a scary feeling at times. It seems odd that just a week ago we were talking about things we wanted to do in Haiti in the coming year - and now all of those things are unrealistic. The immediate need trumps the big plans.
I don't really know what to think or say or how to package that up ...
I only know one thing- Our hope has not died, it is not buried in that rubble.
Photo: Troy Livesay

PS- We are hearing that our kids are doing well. Britt is telling us all the cute comments and stories. Each of the four youngest have spent the majority of their lives in Haiti, therefore America and all it has to offer solicits many cute observations. (Water fountains and parks and smooth roads and food choices and giant stores.) Hope told Britt that she "really liked the village" of Baylor University. As compared to a Haitian village, it really is pretty darn impressive. :)
My heart aches for them when I think of them ... so I try not to. I love you guys - be strong. Kenbe fem - Kenbe fo.

xoxo - mom