Tracking Ed Monroe as he travels to Haiti and other exotic(?) places
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Home, sweet home. We are all home, as far as I know but it was an adventure.
My day started about 3 AM EST when my wife woke me up by telling me she had packed her passport and green exit card in the checked luggage that was already on its way by truck to Port-Au-Prince. After that I just laid on the bed until about 4:45 AM when I hear someone making coffee. It turns out that some of the team had just gotten to bed at 3 AM. I’ve sworn to silence and will not divulge names… After our heart breakfast meal of coffee and a breakfast bar, we loaded into Son-Son’s tap-tap, the Toyota trick, and Boyer’s friend’s pick up for the ride to Jacmel airport. Dionne was there to try to sell us some more souvenirs and to see us off. Dick and Barb came along to say Goodbye. We were surprised that there were several Haitians also waiting on a plane. I did not look at the time but a plane appeared and landed, and was followed shortly thereafter by a second plane. Half of our team got on the first plane and the rest on the second plane. Well, that is not true as one of the Haitian’s decided to take the front seat on our charter and there was no seat for our leader, Eric. He finally gave in and got out of the plane and Eric joined our flight. The flight over the mountains was much higher than last year as we were not loaded down with our checked luggage this year. The sun was out and the sky was clear and it is always an incredible view from the air. We landed in Port-Au-Prince at the “commuter” terminal and then the fun began. The first group was waiting inside and we had to carefully watch for our carry-on's so they would not get stolen. Now begins the parade to the far end of the parking lot to catch our transportation. It was not very far but I had to put the fact that our transportation was parked at the back of the lot...
See picture at the top:
Yes, folks, our own Haitian truck. The nose of the load bed is filled with our entire checked luggage so we have to squeeze 25 team members, Boyer, Jean Michael, and Boyer’s brother, Jacky on board. Some of the first ones in climbed on the bags and boxes and we all managed to ride but it was not a comfortable ride. When we arrived at the International terminal we were greeted by the usual crowd of people hawking souvenirs or “wanting to help us” to earn some money. We unloaded and pushed our bags into the line at the front door. I was able to break the tie down on the case with Donna’s passport and card to leave Haiti and we passed through the confusion into the first security check point. After clearing that, we assembled in our usual pile of luggage and people, but the lobby was filled with hundreds of people. We found out that American Airlines had canceled two flights the day before and many of those folks were there. Also, American’s 9:30 AM flight customers were still in line and had not checked in. Long story short we waited from 8:30AM till around 10:45 AM in line for American to check us in. Our next stop is the departure lounge for our traditional Haitian hot dog. As usual, one of the vendors is out of hot dogs, out of this and out of that. Thankfully there are two food vendors. We met with several groups like ours who were departing. One group was from Colorado, one from New York, and one from Northern Illinois (Carroll County). We visited and exchanged information, stories, and emails with all of the groups. I also spoke with a young man who was returning from Haiti to Washington DC. He and his Haitian wife had been to visit relatives. She was staying on but he had to get back for work. He is from Ethiopia and has plans for a medical mission to his home country. He and I exchanged email addresses. About noon, I sent Donna and Debi down to go through the third security check at the boarding area and I followed as soon as there was someone to watch over some team members luggage besides me. The lounge was full and became quite crowded as the time went on. I was introduced to a pharmacist from Tennessee and his wife who had just finished up their fourth medical mission trip. We shared thoughts, ideas, problems and email addresses so we can continue to learn from each other. Our plane was about ½ hour late in arriving in Haiti so we did not board till ½ hour later than planned. Our trip from PAP to Miami was a smooth ride. Most of us sailed through customs and we were surprised to find our tubs had already been off loaded and available when we reached the baggage claim area. Our next stop was American’s desk to recheck our bags. That is where the problems started for Courtney and Leah Barr. American refused their luggage and told them they had to go to the main ticketing area and recheck the bags and totes there. That caused them to miss our flight to Chicago. Eric and Sue Behrens, our team leaders, stayed behind to assist. I understand they made a later flight. Courtney and Leah made the 1o:30 PM Peoria Charter Coach bus and were at home by 2:30 AM. Eric and Sue chose to spend the night in Chicago and caught the first flight out this morning. In all of the rush and confusion of Miami, we did not get to say Good-Bye to Leigh Behrens and Garron and Sharon Lukas. Darn! Some of the team grabbed some food in Miami. Donna and I had a tasty Latte. Our flight to Chicago was on time and very smooth. Once in Chicago, Donna and I grabbed a salad at the McDonald’s in K concourse and hurried to our gate at G-1-b. We had no time to eat at the gate and got right on the plane to Peoria. We were able to finish our food on the plane before it took off. We arrived to COLD Peoria around 10PM CST. It was a cold trip to the car so we could load our bags. They came along, finally and we loaded the car, said our goodbyes, and drove home. Unfortunately, no one had shoveled the several inches of snow off our inclined driveway so I made two passes to get up the hill and into the garage. All was well at home and we got to bed around midnight. Home sweet Home.
This morning we had a nice email from Papa Dick telling us how quiet the building is without a large team’s presence. I have to tabulate the inventory figures and some other book work so I will bring this to an end for today. Just as soon as I get some pictures from team members who brought along cameras, I will post to this blog.
Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support. Please consider The Friends of The Children of Haiti if you have some money, time, or talent to share. Our website is: www.fotcoh.org. I can personally testify that all of the money you contribute goes for the care, feeding, and education of the Haitians. God Bless!
Monday, February 19, 2007
I did not get much sleep last night as I worried about my mad response to anonymous. I let it get under my skin and I fired back. That is never a good thing. I am sorry that I offended anonymous but I put in the hours before retiring and I am happy to try to make a difference in some peoples lives rather that sit in front of my TV and never do anything for anyone. I urge Anonymous to come along on a mission trip and see rhe conditions of the people of Haiti, to see the severe medical problems they have, to see that they suffer mostly in silence with what the world has dealt them. Then Anonymous could complain about the average Joe. As for me I have never been an average person. I am more like a crazy, goofy, workaholic, volunteering, caring person. But I like who I am, what I have accomplished, and what I plan to accomplish in the near and far future. So much for average.
We send our bags and crates over;and at 6PM tonight and have a 7AM plane (we hope-but with Haitians you never know) from Jacmel to Port-Au-Prince. Then it will be a hot dog and shopping at Port-Au-Prince airport after the usual confusion of that crazy place. We fly to Miami around 1PM. More lunch (real American food) in Miami and hopefully a 5:50 flight to O'Hare. The a 9:10 flight(again hopefully) to the Greater Peoria airport.After our wait for the luggage, we MAY be home by midnight which is 1 AM on our body clocks. I do not envy Leigh Behrens who flies from Miami to San Francisco. She will be tired when she gets home. The trip is winding down and that is sad. But many of us will be back in July for another mission. I promise to post photos as soon as I get some. Donna and I did not bring a camera on this trip but I am told a CD is forthcoming from someone. Time for a shower and some wine.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Read you every day Ed. Appreciate what you guys are doing down there. But I was wondering about your bankers hours comment. Millions of us everyday Joes get up and are AT work every morning before the sun rises and then home after five with out the benefits of your drinks,lobster and beaches. Is our work any less important?
I did not mean to say that+your work is less important. I was trying to tell those people who think we are on a vacation down here that we do work while we are here and not slack off just because it is hot, or fill of mosquitos, or raining outside, or that the Haitians have stong body odors. I am sorry that I offended you. My purpose in this blog is to assure the folks back home that all is well. Last year, due to political unrest, we were forced to stay in Haiti an extra 5 days before American Airlines resumed flights and that ca=used a lot of worry back home. I do hope you understand.
I realized today trhat I have failed to mention that we have two great “new” things this time. We have water pressure as Dick has installed an auxillary pump. And even better, there is a hating element in the hot water tank and the showers are warm and sometimes hot. That is very nice.
I want to share a prayer with you that was read at our prayer service today. It was found on the internet at http://snp.homestead.com/PrayerHughes.html if you would care to view it.
A Prayer For the Children
Ina J. Hughes
(an American school teacher)
adapted by James Steyer
We pray for the children
who sneak popsicles before supper,
who erase holes in math workbooks
who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,
who like ghost stories,
who can never find their shoes.
We pray for the children
who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
who cannot bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers,
who are born in places we wouldn't be caught dead in,
who never go to the circus,
who live in an X-rated world.
We pray for the children
who sleep with the dog and bury the goldfish,
who bring us sticky kisses and fistfulls of dandelions,
who get visits from the tooth fairy,
who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money.
We pray for the children
who never get dessert,
who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
who watch their parents watch them die,
who can't find any bread to steal,
who don't have any rooms to clean up.
whose pictures aren't on anybody's dresser,
whose monsters are real.
We pray for the children
who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,
who shove dirty clothes under the bed and never rinse out the tub,
who don't like to be kissed in front of the carpool,
who squirm in church or temple and scream into the phone,
whose tears we sometimes laugh at and
whose tears sometimes make us cry.
We pray for the children
whose nightmares come in the daytime,
who will eat anything,
who have never seen a dentist,
who aren't spoiled by anybody,
who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
and live and move, but have no being.
We pray for the children who want to be carried
and for those who must,
for those we never give up on and
for those who don't get a second chance,
for those we smother...
and those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.
We also listened to the Mass readings for the day and a listened to a reading from Isaiah 58 which I encourage you to read.
I need to get off so that we can get a message from Jeremy and Lori.
We were there. I was also reminded that we had a Haitian band show up at Cap Lamando and they were good. We listened, danced, and enjoyed. We will also be monitoring today's Daytona 500. There are some race fans here. We also hear there is an NBA game of note today that we hope to catch. Maybe, just maybe, we wil trun on the television.
Saturday morning started with a heavy rain storm just about 7:30 AM. The rain lasted about 45 minutes and it made the day even more humid. It also made for more mud, dirt, rocks, and other landscape materials to be tracked into the clinic. One of the ironies is that the Haitians often take off their shoes outside the door and soon there is several pair outside that everyone must maneuver past to enter or exit. Haitians are, by culture, afraid of the rain. We had some canopies outside the compound and a tarp over the triage area for shelter. The providers are located on a portico with a new cement floor so they were relatively dry.
After the rain, with the limited amount of soil, there was very little mud. This area has very little top soil. I was remarking to Chip Moodie, who farms near Bradford, Illinois, about soil quality. We both agreed that the soil near Bassin Blu seemed very rich and we observed a planting of beans as we walked to the waterfall. There is an area on the way to Jacmel from Cyvadier that we pass that appears to be a crop raising area. Ooops, I’ve let my mind wander to another area instead of finishing my description of Saturday. We ended the day having seen160 patients. That brings our total to 2607 for the mission. Garron Lukas, our surgeon, performed 17 surgeries during this mission. He was only able to perform one on Saturday as the lady who was supposed to have a breast removed did not show up for the surgery. There is always a last minute demand by our Haitian helpers to have some family member seen on the last day, or to come up with some medical problem that day so that they can get some Motrin, or vitamins, or Tylenol, or some other medication. It takes me a long time, on the last day, to exit the pharmacy. The last day is also a hard day in the pharmacy as we do not want to package more that we need for the day as we will have to take it out of the packages for storage between clinics. So it is packaging in small lots for the pill packer which is hurry up and wait situation. I am so grateful for the work of Carol Steiner in the pharmacy again this year. She is a hard worker, never complains, works with a smile on her face, is very careful with her filling of orders, and a great blessing to me. I found out on Saturday that she will return with me on the July mission. HOORAY! I also want to acknowledge James Bender. He came in from triage, after it calmed down, and helped fill orders so we could keep our pharmacy bench cleared. He could also administer the injections as they came through pharmacy so that I did not have to chase down a nurse to give the injection. I was also assisted by Leah Barr. She took a heavy load of stress off my shoulders by keeping the pill packers at work. She shouldered the stress well and we were never completely out of stock of any medications in packages. Out of stock meds, packaged in a hurry, is a bad situation and we avoided it. We did have some advancement this year in the pharmacy that I want to brag about. I purchased plastic dropper bottles for the Lugol’s solution. In the past we have used empty bulk pill containers. They had poor seals and no dropper to use to dispense the medication properly. The plastic dropper bottles worked out very well for that and some other situations where a dropper bottle as needed. Speaking of Lugol’s solution, I had one of my translators, Edzer, write out the directions for the use of Lugol’s in Kreole. I then took that and put it on a Microsoft Word file and now we can preprint the labels for the Lugol’s. We have some the same for the baby vitamin formula and, my favorite item, BB Sirop. BB Sirop is a Haitian cough and cold liquid preparation. It comes in gallon bottles. It smells funny and is take with coffee by the patients, kids and adults alike. This year I purchased 2 oz and4 oz amber graduated Rx bottles to dispense liquids in a tight sealed container. In years past, the medication would leak out of the bottles if they were not held upright and I hated that. How could the bottle remain upright as the Haitians walked home from the clinic? It was most likely to spill. So I am pleased with the purchase. Also, I am happy to report that we JUST made it with the Ivermectin medication for scabies. We have less that 2 oz left of the 3 pints we started with. At 10 AM on Saturday, I began to ration it so that we could treat the worst cases. That meant that we would be painting adults with Lindane. We wanted to avoid, if at all possible, painting the small children with the Lindane and we did not have to paint them.
We all noticed that the rain and humidity caused a great increase in body odors from the Haitians on Saturday. It was, for me at least, the first time this clinic that the odor was present as I worked with the Haitians. We did run out of soap to pass out to the Haitians. I do not know how much we brought along but it is all gone. We had more orders for selenium sulfide (Selsun or Head and Shoulders) shampoos. We will have to restock more heavily in future clinics. The only medications we completely ran out of were Methyldopa (Aldomet) for blood pressure control, Phenytoin (Dilantin) for seizure control, and Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) for allergies. That is not too bad for all the patients we see but I hate it none the less. We will pick up a small amount of Methyldopa and Phenytoin from a supplier in Port-Au-Prince who may or may not have some in stock. You can bet that I will lobby for more for the April and July upcoming clinic.
After the clinic on Saturday, we trucked to Cap Lamando. It seemed to take forever to get on the trucks for the trip. Then, as we started down the main road in the second truck, the first truck stopped and turned around for no apparent reason. We stopped and moved the truck to the limited shade at the wrong side of the road. Using the Haitian cell phones, we found out that someone (best left unnamed) had lost cigars off the back of the truck and needed to attempt recovery of same cigars. I hear we, in the second truck, had only crushed one of them as we passed over them on the rough rocky road. At Cap Lamando hotel, we had the pool to ourselves for the most part. There was one family from Appleton Wisconsin there. The husband was Haitian from Jacmel, who had gone to school in the USA and continued to live in Wisconsin. The wife had met him when he was stationed in Wisconsin. They were in Jacmel for Karnaval with their two children and were enjoying a day at the pool. The hotel is much busier again this year as the presence of the UN has caused an increase in room nights. Donna and I ordered a bottle of Chardonnay wine. It cost, with taxes-new to me this year- $12.00 American. It was served by my “old” friend Jean Chadony. On my first visit to Haiti, Jean Chadony was a bus boy. He and I worked together at the hotel setting up tables, table cloths, plates, silverware, and drink glasses so we could have our meal. We had a good time, that night, laughing and working together. He is now the head barman and I got to catch up on him and his growing family. I used to hear from him by email but he has been too busy lately to write. The wine was Australian and a dark yellow color but a nice taste. When Jane Gray went to order another bottle, we found out that I had purchased the only one. She selected a French Sauvignon Blanc and it was also tasty. Many, many Rum Punches, Prestige beers, and ???? Later, the team sat down for our meal. It was the usual Haitian confusion central getting the correct meal to the correct person. Donna and I got ours early on. I think the goat was the last to be served. After we finished the meal, they served pomme fries (French fries) which are tasty, then they brought out a serving of white rice. By that time, many were too full to enjoy the rice. After the meal, there was a swimming pool challenge among the team members. For the sake of confidentiality, I will not name names, at this point. I am, however, open to bribes.
All had a good time and we waited-and waited-and waited for the check. Again, this is very Haitian. When it came, the hotel staff could not agreed on the total. We paid one amount shown on the bill, and one hotel employee, the front desk clerk, argued and argued with the rest of the hotel staff about something or other. We were loaded in the trucks, ready to go, but our driver would not proceed until was give the word from Boyer, our interpreter. This driver is Boyer’s friend and has driven us around the entire mission. I went in to get Boyer. He was in the middle of the argument. The catering manager, with whom I had spoken to earlier, came out with an arm full of Cap Lamando tee shirts for the team. Finally we left and returned to the clinic. It was sometime around 9 PM and the streets were still full of people coming and going. The vehicles all dive with their bright lights on and will only go to low beam about 10 yards from the oncoming vehicle. Traveling on the roads in Haiti is always an adventure. There are people walking along side the road day and night. There are vehicles, parked along the sides and stripped of any and all useful parts, there are motorbikes that either fly around you or slowly put-put along. If you are in a slower moving vehicle, you are passed by a speedier vehicle, no matter what may be on the road ahead. The Haitians use their vehicle horns, so you do have some idea what is happening, but near miss opportunities abound. So far, we have been safe and sound..
The sun is now up, most of the team awake, and soon we will have our prayer service. No one looks the worse for wear from last night and I’ve written more that you may care to read so I’ll TRY to correct some of the many grammar and typographical errors and get this published. Oh, I almost forgot, we are aware of the additional 4 inches of snow that Peoria received on Saturday. We are still watching the forecast for our Tuesday travels. The 45 degrees that is forecast sounds cold to us but better than below zero. Again, it is Sunday, so relax and enjoy the day. Our thoughts and prayers are for you and with you.
Friday, February 16, 2007
I need to correct a misstatement form a previous post. I said that Jeremy and Lori had made to Peoria. That is not right. I have since found out that they stopped in Alton, Illinois which is where they are from. Jeremy apparently went to the ER there and was admitted to the hospital in Alton. We do not have any update as of this moment, on how they are doing.
Today we saw 346 patients today, 305 on Thursday, 278 on Wednesday, 280 on Tuesday, and 347 on Monday. That puts us at about 2500 patients so far. Tomorrow is a half day and I expect that we will see nearly 200 on our last clinic day. Everyone is holding up well and their high spirits makes it even more fun for all. I know all of us are tired and have to concentrate even harder as we work. I drug out the pony tailed hat and clown nose today, The foam nose is hot as is the clown wig so it does not stay on very long but it does bring smiles to the children. We did have a little girl yesterday who had never seen a “blanch” as we are called by the Haitians. The girl cried and screamed whenever on of us came near her. I had to make two trips past her as she sat in the lab line which is outside the pharmacy storeroom and the second trip was very hard for me to make as I knew she was so frightened. Fortunately, she has calmed down by the time she got through treatment and provider areas and came into the pharmacy. Saturday afternoon we will be going to Cap Lamando hotel for swimming and dining. Sunday we will have our prayer service, afterwards some will go to Bassin Blu. After they return there is another trip planned to the beach at Ti Moulage. Monday will be inventory day and packing day. Our main bags will be trucked to Port-Au-Prince around 5 PM on Monday so we will not have an overloaded plane ride from Jacmel to Port-Au-Prince like we did last year. As I recall we used all of the Jacmel runway and more to get off the ground on that trip and flew near some of the mountain folks kitchen windows as we passed by-not over-their huts. It was quite a ride.
Thanks to Piper for the winning bid on my auction to tell who has been sick. She not only won the bid but gets the news that her mother is as healthy as ever. A note to our family members and friends who are reading this blog: Thanks for all of your prayers and support. We really do miss you very much and are anxious to return home. The work that we do here is really important to the people of this area and they greatly appreciate what we are doing. It is not a vacation on this tropical island and every one of the team works hard, plays hard, laughs a lot, cries when they hear or see a sad occasion or event, and feel like they have really made a difference in peoples lives at the end of the day. It is not easy to get up every morning at sunrise and get to work by 7:30 AM at the latest. The day usually ends somewhere around 5 PM each evening so it is also not your “banker’s hours.” But you, dear ones, are never far from our minds. With that, I’ll publish this, get my shower taken, and crash for the night. God bless you all…
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Most of the team is on their way to Son Son’s bar for refreshments. That will mean a late supper tonight. Some of the team went to the secret beach this afternoon. No, I do not know where it is for sure, but I hear it is close by. Chef Larry has prepared excellent meals for the team. With his breakfast oatmeal, we should all lower our cholesterol levels by 30 or more points. It would not hurt yours truly to loose a few pounds while he is here but I doubt that it will happen. I am sitting here with a nice glass of French Sauvignon Blanc wine and watching the sunset over the mountains. We had a hard rain last night and we had a lot of laundry on the lines but it dried early in the morning. The rain forced a cancellation of another movie night.
On the pharmacy side, we have run out of Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) 25 mg, phenytion ( Dilantin), and methyldopa ( Aldomet). We have tapped into the ferrous fumarate syrup (yucky smelling iron liquid). My interpreters have made labels for the Lugol’s solution. I purchased 2 oz dropper bottles for that item and that is a blessing. I am also using the 3 and 4 oz Rx bottles for liquids and there is less leakage. It will be close on the Ivermectin and there is not enough time to get another delovert from Preckshot Pharmacy in Peoria Heights. That reminds me to ask a favor of you, dear reader. I would really like it if you would call Preckshot Pharmacy and thank them for the support that they give us with the Ivermectin and also call Bogard’s Drug Store on Western in Peoria and thank them for helping us to get some needed supplies at a very good price. Without their help, our trip would have been much less of a success.
Weekend plans call for a trip to the Cap Lamando hotel on Saturday afternoon for a swim and dinner on the patio. Sunday some of the team will go to Bassin Blu in the early afternoon. Later on Sunday the plan is for another trip tp the beach at To Moulage. I am sitting here near the main computer area and the wireless network is busy with 3 or 4 laptops going during much of our free time. We sometimes encounter satellite problems due to the clouds but generally we can get on line easily. The thick walls limit the range of my wireless card. My new card that I purchased for this trip has failed so I am glad that I brought along the old spare card.
Donna has just brought me another glass of wine so I’ll close this before it catches up with me. One last note: I would enjoy hear from you if you are enjoying or hating this blog.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Today we saw 266 patients. Garron went into town for his surgery patients and we have some of the team under the weather but I have promised to not name names for the sake of peace and harmony. This to shall pass....
Our patient count so far is 125 on Wednesday, 269 on Thursday, 334 on Friday, 173 on Saturday, and 347 on Monday. I am happy to report that the pharmacy was finished today at 4:15 and on Monday at 5 PM. That is amazing. I have such great help from Carol Steiner, Leah Barr, and James Bender along with Roger, Belany, and Edzer out front. I am having a problem with my 3 pill packers. I audited their counts and found major discrepancies with what should be in the bags-all on the low side rather than the high side. No wonder the patients have reported being out of meds between clinics. We are now random counting as many loots as we have the time to do. It is discouraging and very hard to communicate with the girls when we do not know Kreole and are forced to use a third party. This to shall pass.
I hope you are not too mad at our snow scene on the most recent blog. It has been the talk of the team all day and we are worried about you.
Monday, February 12, 2007
I still admit to being tired this morning. The night went by too fast and here it is almost time for work. We start again at 7:30 AM. Our Sunday started off with a prayer service. During that service, Garron spoke about courage. He told us how courageous the Haitian people are. He described a Haitian woman who passed through the clinic. She had a mass or growth on her head. It was covered with fleas and flies. She kept it covered with a babushka. She has been to many doctors and tried many things and wondered if we could do anything to help her. But whether we could help her or not, she accepted her condition as it was and would go on with her life. This is so much different from the people in America. We would be angry, depressed, and so on. The Haitians, however, accept the fate that has been put before them and move on. It again shows me that we have entirely too much stuff and are many times unhappy because we do have so much stuff. The Gospel for the prayer service was on the Beatitudes and focused our minds on the mission we are here for. Courage, I pray that we all have the courage to face what life brings us.
After a great breakfast of pancakes and bacon, we took off for Bassin Blu. No, that is not a spelling error but how it is spelled here. Bassin Blue is the beautiful waterfall that is WNW of Jacmel. The trip was an adventure in itself. Jacmel is filled with thousands of people who are in town for national Karnaval. The UN and Haitian police are out in force and the traffic is more than twice the traffic I have seen over the years. When we arrived into Jacmel on the main road we were diverted to a side street and tried to find a way around the crowds. The streets were filled with people, cars, trucks, motorbikes and you were lucky to make a lane to pass through. At one point we encountered a line of cars coming towards us and neither had any place to go due to the narrow passage and the stream of people passing around us. A heated argument ensued between our main man, Boyer, and the several men in the other vehicle. After a while, a Haitian policeman appeared and helped us to back up to allow the other vehicles to proceed and we were off through the crowd. We drove down a very rough and dirty street and finally reached the road leading WNW that we were trying to get to. We took a sharp left and drove on a dirt trail towards the river. This is where I saw the large truck get stuck last year and I expected to see it still there, stripped if all useful items and abandoned. I am happy to report that I am wrong. It must have gotten out of the large hole it had fallen into. So it is over the river, passing the men and women bathing and doing laundry. Yes, there were some x-rated scenes. We forded the river and continued on the dirt road a ways. Boyer stopped and engaged the hubs for our 4 wheel drive up the mountains. There are no street signs and we took a fork in the road at an unmarked corner and climbed up the very steep gravel strewn road. We climbed up and up, slowly easing over washed out areas and avoiding the people and animals who passed by on the road. We passed many huts and partially completed buildings. The small children would wave then hold out their hands for something from us. Near the top we stopped for a picture moment. The view was the city of Jacmel and the Jacmel bay. You could see the roads, the harbor area with the light blue colors followed by the darker blue of the deeper water. It was easy to pick out the abandoned ship in the harbor and the Cap Lamandou hotel and other landmarks. When we arrived at Bassin Bleu there were several cars so we knew that we would not have the place to ourselves. We parked the car and Boyer engaged our Haitian helpers and we were off on a 15 minute (I think-I did not wear my watch) on a trail that led up and down the hills and over the slippery rocks. When we got to one point we encountered a group from the state of Oregon who were heading back from the falls. They are working in Port-Au-Prince on a physical therapy mission. Arriving at the falls, we encountered several men who were finishing off their rum bottles. Yes, we had to climb down the rock using the rope and cross the slippery rocks and ford the stream to reach the large rock where we stowed the small amount of gear that we brought and dove into the water. Everyone warned you to hold your nose as you dove into the water. The current was stronger than I remembered and it was a hard swim. Donna, and several others, swam to the falls and climbed to the first opening. Then they dove into the water. One young man had climbed higher and threw his cap out and dove after it into the pool. Then it was time to leave. Everyone had a good time and hated to leave. Both Donna and I took a fall. Donna is okay but I scarped my shins on the wet, slippery rocks and discovered that they were as sharp as I had heard that they were. No major broken skin and Neosporin will heal it soon. Our return trip was so easy that all of us were surprised at how we got through town with relative ease.
We had about 1 hour at the clinic before we left for Ambians and national Karnaval. The streets were jammed with people and we had to form a line to get to Ambians. We were pushed and shoved as the mob of people swirled around us. At Ambians, all of the prime positions overlooking the street were filled with Haitians, a group of young people from France, a DJ and his sound equipment from a local radio station. We stood behind them and looked out at the parades as it passed by. The bar was as difficult as ever as they are very slow and never know how to make change even in their own currency. It is a sad situation for sure. We were supposed to eat at 5 PM and our dinners arrived at 7:30 PM and were messed up as usual even though we ordered two days before. Then we waited over 1 hour for the check. When we tried to leave, we again formed a chain and scooted across the street in spite of the parade. Now the search was on to find Son-Son and our Tap tap and the other truck. We walked several blocks through the crowds and there was Son Son but not the second truck. It arrived a few minutes later and we rode home through more crowds of people. It was about 9:30 when we got back. After a shower, I was ready for bed and too tired to write. Sorry! I know some of my readers were waiting to hear about our adventure. I started on this at 6 AM and finally finished at 6 PM.
Note to anonymous: Your comment said that I missed someone and at a quick review I do not see it. How about a little more of a clue.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
We have just returned from the beach. It took 3 pick up trucks to transport all of us and our coolers. We encountered no problems along the way but there was a lot of traffic in the town of Cayes Jacmel when we passed through. It was market day and the market was full of people, produce, clothing, auto parts, and who knows (or really wants me to describe) what else. Let’s just say the smell was “unpleasant.” When we arrived at the beach, we noticed the continuing improvement of the place that we spend the afternoon. It is really coming along nicely and may be done by 2010 or so. The second floor is complete on the outside and a new wall and gate entrance is done. The stone work on the front must have taken days to chip the stones and cement into place. The restroom is till very primitive. The food consisted of a very small portion of lobster, some grilled white fish that was tasty, pickle, fried plantains, and beans and rice. We brought along Prestige and rum punch and a little soda pop. No one was lost to the sharks. We managed to help the economy with our purchases of art works and hats. Donna and I rode back in the first truck so that we could get our showers out of the way. Jane Gray had arranged with Lobtser man, Emil, to have a lobster roast here a short while ago and it was delicious. It was freshly caught spiny lobster and cooked before our eyes on a charcoal fire. Add a little lime juice from a fresh picked lime and there you have a Haitian treat.
On this shortened weekday, we managed to see 173 patients. Fortunately, we were able to be done by noon and are caught up on our packaging. I am pleased with the work flow. I did get an email from Mark Purcell with a copy of the next MAP European drug order. I will review it tomorrow and let him know if it needs to be adjusted due to products we have here and products which are slow moving this clinic.
I was just told to stop for a short break to celebrate James Bender’s 35th birthday. So I will be back to this later. I’ll go ahead and publish this much now. Or then again, maybe not, as others are complaining about slow internet and now a message that the satellite is not working.
I thought I would list the team members and what they are doing here at the clinic. Our hosts are Dick and Barb Hammond. Dick does it all here at the clinic. Barb handles all patient dossiers at triage, helps our chef in the kitchen, and watches over our two Haitian helpers. Courtney Barr is working crowd control. His wife, Leah Barr, is helping me in the pharmacy, doing fluoride treatments for dental, and helping out at scabies treatment. Eric Behrens is our team leader, His wife, Sue Behrens, is a nurse provider, assistant team leader, etc. James Bender works in triage and helps me in the pharmacy. Joshua Bradshaw is in triage. Dr. David Cross is a pediatrician provider and also sees adults as time permits. Keri Edwards is helping lab and dental and records filing. Her husband, Dr. Bill Edwards is another pediatrician who is seeing adults. Lori Fulk is our dentist. Jane Gray is doing crowd control. Mary Hedges is working in triage. Her daughter, Lucy, is doing fluoride treatments and scabies treatments. Dr. Garron Lukas is our surgeon. His wife, Sharon, is a nurse provider. My wife, Donna is working in the lab and helping with dental and records filing. I work in the pharmacy. Ralph ‘Chip’ Moodie is helping in crowd control. His wife, Jody, is a nurse provider. Kay Shank is another nurse provider. Her husband, Larry, is our chef. We will be joined next week by Bart Shields. He will work with Garron as a nurse anesthetist. Carol Steiner helps me out in the pharmacy. Her twin sister, Mary Steiner, is our dental assistant. Dr. Jeremy Ufert, Lori Fulk’s husband, is another physician provider. Debi Yandell is last but not least and is a nurse provider. I hope that I have not overlooked any one. For my pharmacist members, I am still trying to find out when Pepto Bismol was added to our formulary. I do have multiple requests from our female providers for Milk Of Magnesia. I am told it may be a personal request so I was able to serve it today at lunch on a prn basis. The report is that it is beginning to work.
Thanks to all of the folks who are writing comments to the blog and I have published them as I get them. Some of the team members are chiding me that they have to read the blog to see what is going on at the clinic. I hope to get some pictures from team members to post here. Donna and I did not even bring a camera on this trip but there are plenty around the clinic. This is a long blog so I will try to get on line, weather permitting, and publish this. Thanks again for your prayers and support.
Friday, February 09, 2007
We are just finished with our team meeting. We saw 334 patients today, and that is quite a busy day. The team is responding marvelously. Everyone helps each other when ever help is called for. There is laughter and fellowship all around. Interesting cases are shared, problems are aired and a solution worked out. It is fun to work in this atmosphere where everyone gets along so well. James continues to help out in the pharmacy and we finished again today at 5 PM. That is amazing! James has his ear buds in so he can listen to his Ipod. He also sings. I am looking for a recorder so we can publish his singing on the internet. His family has requested this as a part of his birthday celebration.
There was a plan to go to a concert in Jacmel on Saturday night. The every popular band, Jam, is playing but we have found out that they will likely take the stage at 11:00 PM and that will be too late for us. We will go to Ti Moulage tomorrow for a beach party. It is a beautiful beach area a few miles east of here. We will have lobster, fish, rice and beans, piclkie, and liquid refreshments there. I am sure there will be some shopping opportunities from the T- shirt lady and the local artist. On Sunday, we will have a prayer service in the morning. Ten lucky people will get to go to Basin Blu, the beautiful waterfall west of Jacmel. Donna an I will try to go next week. This week is for those who have never been there. Sunday night we will go to the Ambiance to watch National Karnaval from the rooftop restaurant. It will be extremely crowded and very exciting.
The weather here remains in the 90’s. It seems to rain every night, over night. They did get in in Movie night last night but I have not heard about tonight’s plans. I was just told to get this blog published so the team could find out what is going on here. I do not think I am that great a writer. We did find out tonight that Lucy has decided to become a nurse and is strongly looking to go to school at SLU. Donna just dropped by to tell me we may get to go to the waterfall after all as no one is signing up for it. Hooray!! We will only have a half day tomorrow so that will be nice for us. I hope to list the team members and what they are doing tomorrow so that I do not forget anyone. Time for a shower and bed. More blogging another day!
Sitting out here on the balcony, I have noticed that there are no goats in the property next door, and I just realized that fact. Also this year, we see a flock of white birds around. That is more birds that I have seen in the past. I have not seen the birds up close so I can’t really identify them but I can tell you they are not gulls nor pigeons.
Another interesting thing was a doctor making house calls in Haiti. Dr Bill saw a very sick boy on Wednesday and we gave him an antibiotic laced IV. He was to return yesterday and when he had not, the decision was made to go and look for him. I prepared the antibiotic again for the IV for Bill to take with him. I stuck myself with my own needle in doing so. Thankfully it was a needle stick from my own needle and not someone else’s. It was a painful reminder and still hurts. Bill and Boyer, on of our Haitian main men, went to the boys home and found him. He was a little improved and was given the second IV. We hope he comes in to the clinic again today. Another problem I had yesterday was in fulfilling a promise made by the November team. Bob Hoy was the team leader and pharmacist for that team. He had promised to send some Lantus insulin for a patient. The problem is, he told me via email AFTER I got to Haiti of his promise. During the packing party for this team, I came across some Lantus insulin but chose not to bring it as there is little electricity in most home and no way to properly store it. The Haitian patient is reported to have a son who is a physician in the States. I recognized this man because he speaks English so well and we always visit a little about his medications on each visit. He also wanted some Neurontin. I know that I brought some samples of that, now all I need to do is find it. That will not be easy as there are boxes still stacked in the store room and the alphabetical sort of the meds has been lost in the crush.
I have to admit a mistake about the goats as the children are bring them out now that the sun is up. I must have not heard them the first few days and you can’t miss them now. Donna and I are staying in a bedroom on the third floor. We were reluctant to take that room as it is on the third floor and it could get noisy due to the proximity to the lounge and the TV. Luckily, the TV is broken again so that is a help and this year the young folk are partying on the roof. The ladder is outside our window but that is all the contact we have with it. I am watching two boats on the water. The men are alternately busy with their fish nets and bailing the water out of their leaky boat. It is comical. The weather here has been overnight rains and it was mostly cloudy yesterday. Today’s forecast is for 93 degrees F. How cold is it in Peoria? I really do not want to know.
It is time for breakfast, and what ever Chef Larry is baking is calling me to quit. I want to say a thank you to Jordan. It’s nice to be called cool by a teenager. Thanks! The team is waiting for this to be posted so they also know what is going on here. Ha!
Please continue to keep us in your prayers. We are safe and enjoying our time. I hope to have time today to tel you about the weekend plans. It sounds fun and exciting.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
We arrived safely tonight about 8:30 PM. Our trip started at the Peoria airport. We boarded a Peoria Charter Coach at 11:45 PM on Monday. The temperature outside was -3 degrees F and we were cold as we put in 50 50lb bags and totes on the cargo bay of the bus. No one was late and we took off a little after midnight. The team played a DVD on the way up to O’Hare so n sleeping on the bus. We arrived at O’Hare about 2:45 AM and unloaded the bus. At 4 AM some American Airlines people arrived and we were all checked in by 4:30 AM. TSA opened about 4:50 AM and we passed through and headed for the coffee bar. Yours truly failed to follow the TSA 3-1-1 rule and almost lost his shave cream, shampoo, toothpaste etc. Luckily we had an extra zip lock bag to put them in and I got a good lecture from the TSA lady. Yes, I deserved it! We departed Chicago only after waiting 450 minutes for the mechanics to put the proper tire pressure in the airplanes tires. A favorable tail wind got us to Miami just a little late. We had to walk from terminal A top Terminal e. It is listed as a 16 minutes walk but it was good exercise. We met up with Leigh Behrens from San Francisco and Garron and Sharon Lukas from South Carolina at the gate area. We ate a nice lunch at the Mexican restaurant in the E Concourse. We arrived in Haiti at 4:20 and it too till 5 PM to get our bags, get through customs and get on the buses. We loaded the bags on a third vehicle and off we went. It took almost 1 ½ hours to get out of Port-Au-Prince proper. The roads were filled with crazy driver, people trying to sell drinks and food. The sidewalks were packed with people and more vendors. Each major intersection was a 5 minute challenge or more to get through. At the south edge of Port-Au-Prince the road has deteriorated into a rocky, pothole filled, dusty, then muddy road. We could not proceed with any speed and that allowed more people to try to sell us water in small vinyl bags, soft drinks, fried plantains, bread, and who knows what else. The sights and smells of Port-Au-Prince have improved but only slightly. Next came the challenge of the mountains. We were told that there are 365 turns as we went up and sown the mountain roads and I believe them. It would be easy to get motion sick from the diesel fumes, dust, and burning garbage smells, let alone the twisting ride. As I said, we made it safely to the clinic, unloaded the bags, ate supper, had a quick team meeting, and unpacked a little. Donna and I have had our showers and it is 11:17 PM and I am off to sleep as the last time I had sleep was early on Monday morning. I hope to finish this in the morning and get it published. I do want to than you for your prayers for our safety.
Friday, February 02, 2007
Our packing party went fairly smooth but we have too much to bring along. I have shipped another 131 pound of medications and supplies via UPS and Lynx air. They should arrive during our second week of the clinic. The cost was $ 353.32.
It was exciting to meet the team members again. We have several new team members and that will be fun. There is a news flash: We will NOT be flying from Port-Au-Prince (PAP) to Jacmel when we arrive. Due to the schedule change at American Airlines, we arrive too late into PAP to make the connection on the small planes to Jacmel. There are no landing lights at Jacmel airport and flying over the mountains at night is not a good idea when we fly so low over them in the daylight. So, instead of spending the first night at Wall’s Guest House, the plan is to bus us over the route. he picture at the top is an example of a typical bus in Haiti. They are quite colorful. To look on the map the distance is 75 miles. However, due to road conditions and winding mountain roads the distance is somewhat longer and slower. This will give the people who have never seen the countryside, a good look at living conditions in PAP and the villages along the way. It will also be scenic and a little scary as we round the mountain roads.That will be just another part of the Haitian experience. I hope all remember to make a potty stop at the PAP airport as there are no stops along the way. We took this trip in 2004 and had a flat tire along the way. We lost a lot of time with that. The girls ducked into the bushes and surprise: the bushes were filled with people passing by. Now you know why we carry our own toilet paper. This is just some of the amazing facts I have to share to share with you.
Emails are flying hot and heavy between the team and Papa Dick in
I’ll try to have more to post on Monday. Our forcast is for temperatures no higher than 10 degrees Fahrenheit which, I think, is -13 degrees Celsius. BRRR! It will be cold loading the bus for O’Hare at midnight on Monday!