Tracking Ed Monroe as he travels to Haiti and other exotic(?) places

Monday, April 07, 2008

Monday April 7

Hello from Illinois. We finally made it back but it was quite an adventure. We arrived in Miami around 9 PM. The Air France flight was nice with a free bottle of wine with our snack. I sat next to a lady that I had spoken with earlier in the day. She was a very interesting lady, having lived for 35 years in Africa with her husband who was a contractor. She has family in the USA that includes a grandson who is attending Harvard on a full tuition scholarship and a granddaughter who is attending Columbia Univeristy Medical School on a full tuition scholarship. As we exited the plane and began a very long walk to immigration she became short of breath so I stayed with her until we reached that area. It tool well over 1 hour for us to get through the line and as I was at the rear, I did not get to say goodbye to many of my team mates who were rushing to American Airlines counter before it closed. By the time we collected our bags and crates and got to American it was already closed. Lynn Garber’s husband had rented a 12 passenger van and hauled Katie, Liz, John and myself to Fort Lauderdale and dropped us off at a Hampton Inn near the Fort Lauderdale airport. Lynn has family in Fort Lauderdale and her husband was there and that was a wonderful help. I understand that Katie & Liz ordered a pizza. John and I just crashed only to be awakened by a welcome phone call from Linda that they had arrived safely into Chicago. Returning to sleep, I was awakened by John as he thought he had lost his case carrying his passport and all of the important papers. It was located under his bags and we finally got to sleep. We awoke at 5 AM and helped open the breakfast bar at the Hampton and all of us rode the shuttle to the American terminal. It was driven by a man from Port-Au-Prince. We had little trouble getting to the departure lounge for our 8 AM flight. I managed to cut my finger at TSA security and I have yet to figure out how. Liz and Katie did not have seats and that was a worry as Liz had a wedding to go to that afternoon in Chicago. We were assured that she would be given a seat after all had been checked in and that was the truth. Our flight to Chicago was a little turbulent and the pilot was given instructions from air traffic control to use another route and we arrived earlier than expected. After quick god byes to Liz, who lives in Chicago, and John, whose wife was meeting him at the airport, Katie and I had a bite of lunch at the Chili’s restaurant and took the 12:30 PM plane to Peoria. Katie’s dad met us and hauled me and 3 crates to my car in the far end of the parking lot. I was home a little after 2 PM and very glad to get here. I did take a nap around 6:30 PM and went to bed at 8 PM. I awoke around 6:30 AM and we managed to take in 7:30 AM Mass and had a quiet breakfast. We worked outside in the yard and attended the 2 PM picture part for the February team. It was a great reunion and the pictures brought back memories. We left a little after 4 PM as I was getting sleepy so I took another long nap and again headed for bed at 8:00 PM. This morning I feel a bit more rested but did doze off this afternoon when I sat down on my son’s couch. He is stuck at home recovering from his Achilles tendon surgery so we went over to help him clean his house for an upcoming birthday party of his oldest daughter. Donna explained to me that she had use some wart removing pads and the foot doctor told her she removed the entire wart on the bottom of her foot. She is still frustrated about the hour long wait. So all that remains is to send you some pictures and that may take a week or so as Katie is assembling them onto a CD.
I want to close this portion by saying how very proud I was to be a part of this tremendous team. Your work ethic was inspirational. The cooperation between all of you was outstanding and meant a lot to me. I loved working with you and hope I can do it again sometime. If there is ever any way that I can be of help, encouragement, prayer, or just to be a listened I am always available.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Friday April 4

Friday April 4, 2008

Hello from Haiti. I am starting this at the departure lounge of Air France and it is about the time we were to be flying out of Fort Lauderdale to Chicago on our way home. Today has not been a good travel day so far. It started around 5:15 AM when I awoke to the first light streaming in my window and my good buddy, Sparkey the rooster, calling out the breaking of dawn. I went out and started the coffee and then traveled up to the third floor to put away my computer. It was after 10:30 PM when I finally got to bed. I had left the computer hooked up as it was used by several of the team to email and check on things while we were at the clinic. Around 6:45 AM we assembled and boarded Son Son’s tap tap and Dick’s truck for the trip to Jacmel airport. Our plane was to be in at 8:00 AM. We had chartered a special Tortug Air flight and there was only 1 seat unfilled for our return trip. Here is where the problems started. The Tortug plane arrived at 8:15 AM and there was no Tortug employee to check and load the baggage or to check us in. Fortunately the pilot and co-pilot did the check in and the employees of another airline did the bags. We had a nice flight to Port-Au-Prince (PAP) at the airport for the local planes. We got our bags and took 3 vehicles to the main airport. There was a larger than normal crowd at the airport entrance and we should have suspected problems. Boyer did not have his passport and was not allowed to enter into the airport with us so we waved good bye. He had some business in PAP and was returning by bus to Jacmel. After we were in an long line for over an hour we found out that our 11:00 AM American Airlines flight had been canceled. We managed to get some one at American to rebook most of us on the 6:00 PM flight on Air France that we are presently waiting for in this lounge. It is 4:30 PM as I type this but it is quiet and comfortable so the time will pass quickly, I hope. Linda and Renee managed to get booked on the American flight at around 4 PM and well be back in Chicago yet this evening. It is just pulling out now and is late. Some of the team’s cell phones worked so we first called Dick to alert him to the problem then we began to text message family and friends in the USA for assistance. Some cell phones worked and some did not. American did give us food vouchers so we had the famous PAP hot dog, the 16 oz soda and, after a very long wait, some pomme fries (French fries). I got a message to my son and I hope he was able to reach my wife. I will be sure to call her from the USA. At Miami we will likely split up as some of the team will stay in the area for a couple of days, Diana heads off for Nashville and the rest of us will head to Fort Lauderdale for an 8 AM flight to Chicago. Katie and I will then get a 1:30 PM flight to Peoria, or at least I hope so. There appears to be three other groups of American missionaries on this flight and they were booked on the American flight that was canceled. One team was doing a construction project and I am not sure what the other team was doing. We are trying text message to get American’s phone number so they will pay for our hotel in the US tonight. Every one is tired. All of this waiting around drags a person’s spirit down. The team has shopped the gift shop and is mentally ready to be home. I am typing this on my laptop in Microsoft Word so I can publish it later when I get an internet connection. A funny thing about this airport, there are no landing lights here so we have to leave before dark or not leave at all. Papa Dick had made arrangements at the Wall’s Guest House in case we would have had to spend tonight in PAP. He was relieved that we would be getting out of Haiti tonight. Our leader and I agree that FOTCOH needs to purchase a Digicel phone for use here in Haiti so we can get better communications while we are here. We were so lucky that two of the 14 team member’s cell phones would work. Quick aside, one of the construction team members came over and gave Diana an Eastern Kentucky University hat. That is where Diana has applied for entrance into their nursing program. It is a small world, indeed.
Back to our flight fun, we hope to get to Miami by 9:30 and clear customs by 10:30 PM. Then we will decide if we go straight to the Fort Lauderdale airport and how we will do that. Liz wants to get a hotel room as she has a wedding to attend tomorrow in Chicago. At this point we have yet to decide whether to get a room or just cap out at the airport. It will be a short night in any event. The Air France plane has landed and I will save this for later.
It is 5 AM on Saturday and I am sending this from s hotel on Fort Lauderdale, FL. Details to follow soon.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Thursday night April 3

I am ready to come home. I am packed and we have had our last team meeting, I had a great bunch of people to work with and my inventory went smoothly and they even helped me to clean the pharmacy and pack up everything for the May team. I will be bring two totes home as we found an empty one late this evening so I repacked my stuff into two totes rather than one. Katie will be riding with me to Peoria so I will have some help in case I cannot find my car at the airport. I am playing Elvis off of my computer in the background for Renee, our Elvis fan. And I have just returned from escorting Liz to the spooky pharmacy to get a gallon zip lock bag for all of her treasures. No, I did not get a manicure. The manicurist took almost 1 hour on each of the 5 girls and it was dinner time by the time it was my turn, I know my family would have been shocked if I would have come home with nail polish. Ha! We did reach the 1900 patient level and I could not be prouder of the members of this team. We came together from Washington, Minnesota, Kentucky, and Illinois as strangers and leave enriched by the friendship and camaraderie we have gained by this experience. Yes, we may never again be on the same FOTCOH team but we will always treasure our time together. I thanked them for putting up with me. Those who know me will truly understand that remark. I took time to clean up Dick’s desktop and laptop computer of a bunch of junk that has been growing on his computers. I also downloaded a program that I want him to run after each mission to clean up the websites that attack his system when we use it for email etc while we are here.
I was done with the inventory around 4:30 PM but I did not get to the beach or to Son Son’s but I did not mind. I did compliment Dr Nelson as this was the best job I have ever seen home do for FOTCOH and I was very impressed that he now has gotten used to FOTCOH and has read and will follow our protocols. I am sure the FOTCOH Medical advisory board will appreciate that fact. I also complimented my 3 pill packers and 3 interpreters. I had the least problems with them than on any of the 7 previous missions.
Boyer’s brother Jacky, who is also Andrita’s brother, did an outstanding job on this mission and I was very proud of him I can’t wait to tell his sponsor, Carolyn, how well he did on this mission. It is a hot muggy night and I hope I can sleep better than the past few nights. I do thank the Lord for giving me a pain free two weeks as I worried each day that the back pain would return and He blessed me with His peace. Diana had a beautiful prayer to close our team meeting and Dick said the Grace and brought a few tears to my eyes. I know that I will be back in July and I am anxious to get home and be with my family and friends. Tomorrow we will be at the airport in Jacmel at 7 AM for an 8AM flight and I will be back in Peoria by 10:00 PM if all goes well. This is wild, as I type this I am carrying on an online conversation with my friend, Stella Marie, who is at her desk in Malaysia. The wonders of the internet boggle the mind. It is wonderful to hear from this very spiritual lady. I pray for the day that I can see her again. I met her in Cologne in 2005 at World Youth Days and we became very close friends along with David who was traveling with her. They took such great care on Grandpa Ed. Time for bed for this old man. I hate to stop viviting with Stella Marie. I said good night and she remineded me that It is aleady tomorrow morning over there. OOPS. No matter it was wonderful to hear from her. I'll try to sign on in the morning before we leave for the airport. Otherwise it will be sometime Saturday before I will be back on line. Thanks again for reading this blog.

Thursday April 3, 2008

The sky is becoming lighter with the rising sun so I finally gave up trying to sleep and here I am at the computer. Papa Dick told me hat I spend a lot of time on the computer and my family would attest to that fact. It seemed like the dog and the rooster were having a contest overnight as to which one could make the most noise, Yes home and my own bed will feel very good in about a day and a half. I go on these missions and really begin to miss home during the last few days. I will not get back to Peoria until after 10:00 PM on Friday night-if all goes well with my travel. On the February mission, we managed to get to O’Hare airport in Chicago to catch that last plane to Peoria only to find out there was no first officer so the plane could not be flown. We had to run to catch the Peoria Charter bus and got home around 1:30 AM but we did get home.

Our last clinic day here will be a busy one. We will see patients in the morning, have our lunch, and then take inventory, clean up, and out the clinic to bed until the May team arrives. It was funny to see an email about their upcoming packing party date, time, and place, in my inbox the other day. This coming Sunday, I will be attending the picture party for the January team that I was a part of. That team is made up primarily of people from the Peoria, Illinois area so we get together and exchange photo CD’s and printed pictures and catch up with each other, since this March team is so spread out over the country, Katie has volunteered to assemble all of the digital pictures on a CD for the team. I am not sure how we will see the pictures from the disposable cameras that I have seen.

Papa Dick has just turned on the generator so we will have the electricity for the coffee making and the Internet. EDH power was off at 1:30 AM when I checked. I was supposed to be on until 3 AM. I am told, but I have no faith that this will happen, that EDH will provide electricity 24 hours a day starting on April 14. Diesel fuel for the generator costs over $ 7,00 USD per gallon here. No, I do not know how many hours per gallon the generator gets but I will try to find out. The goat chorus has begun as the small children take them out to the rocks to graze for the day. Somehow, one of them got into the compound yesterday so I told Diana, the veterinary tech, that it needed attention as she has been complaining about not being able to handle small animals. I had so much fun with that remark, I went on to tell John, our leader, that he was now not the only old goat on the property. Yes, I’ll do anything for a laugh!

Wow, I just went on line to check my email and I heard from all of my littlest grandchildren last night. That was a great and pleasant surprise. They had questions about Haiti, questions about my work, questions about different animals that might be on the island, questions about my behavior on April fool’s day, and some love messages that made a tear or two in my eye. As I said earlier today, I really start to miss home about this time every mission.

The Scrabble game went until after 10 last night and it is fun to hear the laughter and joy that a board game brings to people. I just drifted off to sleep and all was dark and quiet a little later in the evening so all must have made it to their beds. Holly just went by and asked if I had said anything mean about her on my blog. I told her that as far as I knew I had told everyone that she had done drugs with me here in Haiti as she has helped us out in the pharmacy when she was done seeing patients. That ought to shock her 17 year old daughter some, and he husband as well. Liz just breezed. She told me yesterday that her sister was broadcasting the things I have said about Liz to all of her friends. Fortunately, I have only divulged half of it. She and I have a “thing” going on in the morning after her shower. I will not say anymore about that but leave it to you to imagine. Ha! Liz is at the desktop computer and Lynn is on the other laptop so the computer center is back up and running. Liz and Renee asked me yesterday if I knew of any single men so here is your chance, you single guys, to meet two beautiful, charming, cheerful, dedicated nurses. Just let me know and I will be happy to make the introductions. Somehow, I feel like I am digging myself into a hole with them but no matter. They have probably gotten used to me by now. I have spent some time with Mo discussing various things. She teaches, runs a nursing agency, has a charter boat, owns some condos, loves to do the book keeping each day, and is just a pleasure to be with. I can say the same for the whole rest of the team. I thank them daily for all of the help that they give me, all of the smiles that I get from them and for their wonderful work here in Haiti.

I’ll close on that note and head for the breakfast table. Thanks for reading this.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Wednesday night 9 PM

Hello. This will be a short note after a long day. We saw 258 patients today even with Jeremy gone and David under the weather with tummy problems. He is much better now so please do not get alarmed. Today's total brings us to 1797 patients so far so I suspect we will reach 1900 after tomorrow. I had projected 1500 and John1200. Dick will be right after all. Darn I hate when that happens. Today went very well and we cleaned off the benches so that no one who needed to be seen was left outside and we even saw a few who really did not need medical attention. They wanted what ever they could get free from us-shoes, clothes, tylenol, etc.
A request for a prayer as my wife is getting some foot surgery tomorrow. Thanks. She had her cataract surgery when I was here in February and it just seem to work out that way. I wonder what will happen when I come back in July. Before and after supper I helped Dick make his first Ebay purchase. We tried to bid on two items and lost the bid at the last second. We finally were able to get what he wanted and he will have it shipped to my home and then shipped to him when he is in Florida later this month.
I saw a pelican today. That is the first one in the 8 missions that I have been here. It so reminded me of my place in Florida. The Scrabble game is going on but I will try to go to sleep in spite of that. I had a rough night with David's unrest so I am tired. More tomorrow!!

Wednesday April 2 early morning

It is 5 AM and here I am typing in the dark again. Our EDH power goes off at 3 AM and we will switch over to the generator when Dick wakes up. So I am sitting here, with the aid of my flashlight and the laptop screen and blogging again. This will be a lot of rambling thoughts that I made some notes on last night. After I signed off last night I made a trip up on the roof for a few minutes of star gazing. It is one of my favorite past times while I am here. There is very little ambient light and the stars glisten in the night. One is able to see the entire sky. As I type, Jeremy is preparing to leave for Port-Au-Prince. He is ready to go home. He has been a great friend, a wonderful caring doctor, a patient teacher, and we have had a good time. Thanks again to Lori F for sharing you man with us. I will miss him
Every morning, as soon as the sun comes up, one can hear sounds from the property to the West of the clinic. The sounds are being made by 1 or 2 men as the try to break up the rocks with a sledge hammer and throw the rocks into the bed of a dump truck. This goes on until almost dark. I am told that the property is being cleared for a resort, at the current rate of rock breaking and the rocky nature of the land it will be many years before the resort is a reality.
I was told by Lynn yesterday that I need to do a better job of proof reading before I post to the blog. I told her that I had heard that request time and again and the advice never seems to sink in. I’ve been thinking about buying a voice recognition software program. I have always been a two fingered typist and it takes quite a bit of time to put the words on the page. I wonder if that is available at Overstock dot com.
Another first on this mission was the arrival of a drug rep. Two men drove up with a van filled with boxes; Dr Nelson had invited them to visit. Papa Dick and I spent about 45 minutes and I will be bringing back samples of their wares for the pharmacy committee to evaluate. I will also be bringing back their current price list so that I can convert it into USD. We did purchase all of the cough syrup that they had on their truck as we had just run out of our supply and every patient we seem to see yesterday had a cough. I ended up splitting the 4 oz bottle into some of the empty bottles that I had left from previous missions. Mark will need to purchase more 2 oz dropper bottles, 2 oz amber grads, and 4 oz amber grads for the May team. We have used the bottles to send home a variety of medications. One of the most interesting is the suspension of Griseofulvin that we must prepare for the children. We only have 500 mg tablets available so we calculate the child’s weight in kilograms, multiply it by the dose per kg, multiply that by a 30 day supply. Then we have the total number of milligrams required. That number is divided by 500 and we have the number of tablets that we now must grind up in a mortar with a pestle for our mixture. Next we add water to make the suspension and dispense it in the dropper bottle with a dropper that puts out a 1 ml dose. Why, you ask, don’t we purchase it already made? The answer is the cost is prohibitive. On previous teams we were able to purchase some short dated bottles at a great price but I have not seen that since.
On every mission we constantly hear the complaint that our patient has run out of medicine and we discovered a new reason yesterday. Several patients have complained that they were told to take the medicine twice a day by the interpreters in the pharmacy when the order was written for once a day. The great folks a triage brought me a sample early yesterday morning and I was easily able to see how that could happen. There was a comic strap that I have not seen for sometime. The character was named POGO and he often would say “We have met the enemy and it is us.” Yes, our poor handwriting and abbreviation shortcuts got us into problems again. One of the physicians, and I will not name names here, had written for the drug to be given 1 q day however the q looked very much like a two so either we could have written for two doses per day on the bag or, more likely, our interpreter, who reads the orders off of the dossier and not off of the bag of medications, could have told the patient to take it twice. This issue will have to go to the pharmacy committee and the medical advisory committees for discussion. I will be bringing back a copy of the order. I will also be bringing back some of the concerns of this team that they want to address to the medical advisory committee. That will be a longer meeting that the normally long ones that I have attended in the past.
More random thoughts: The suppliers that made the visit had medications from a company in the Dominican Republic so the labels were in Spanish. They did have some horse Viagra available but I told them we did nit have a protocol for that medication. By the way, we did have several requests for Reglan and I am sorry that I did not think to order it.
I may have already told you in a previous blog that I heard from my friend in Malaysia since I have been here. She manages to catch me on line via MSN Messenger. It blows mind that one can talk with someone on the other side of the world from a computer in a third world county.
I seem to have inspired another blog. You can find it at I have enjoyed teasing Davis with it and now my son has written to the author and that caused a red face on David again. Ha! Speaking of my son tonight is his night with the kids so I hope to be on line sometime when they are also on line. Also a note to Liz’s sister: thanks for the ammunition. I had a blast with her once I found out her age. Keep up the good work.
For my readers from previous teams, this is my scruffy period when I do not tae time to shave but home is coming soon so it is off with the scruffy today, sometime or another.
Another important fact is that beet potato salad is great but it goes in red and exits at the same color. Nuff said there.
We will run out of Ivermectin today. I want to refer you to Diana’s blog ( to read the song that I first hear from Dt. Bill about Ivermectin. We have exceeded the 1200 patient level that was predicted so now we will do the best that we can. We are also out of stool softeners and I’d recommend that we order a larger supply.
Time for breakfast and then to work so I’ll try to get this posted. Weather is cooler today but the sun is out so that will not last long. Please keep those comments coming.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Late Tuesday evening

Today was a much better day for me in terms of my mood. I have heard from some of my family about health issues at home and problems at home that have been solved or are in the process of being solved. Many of the team is off to the beach now and it will be a little quieter for awhile. Tonight’s dinner will be with beet potato salad and I am a most happy fellow. I always enjoy the beet potato salad and we now make it at home in the states.
Lots of crazy things happened today and I do not know where I should start. Ha, I started this at 5PM and it is now 8: 07 PM and the team meeting is over. I have lots of information for the medical advisory board of FOTCOH. Oh crap, it is now almost 9 PM. We have been talking here at the computer stations and I have not gotten very far with. On top of that my friend from Malaysia has been on MSN Messenger and we have been talking together. It is not that I mean to neglect my blog readers but I am having problems juggling all of the balls I have in the air at this time do I will post this tonight and continue in the morning when it is quiet. Jeremy is off to the airport at 6 so I know I will be awake long before that. I apologize to those who were waiting for some delicious gossip.

Early Tuesday April 1

Good morning. Happy April Fool’s Day! I am reading a new book called “A New Earth” and the chapter I am on discusses ways we gain attention. So today, I will try to pass up the temptation to pull some April Fools jokes on my team mates and do just a little less teasing. The author is trying to get me to let go of my ego and to find my inner Presence. So far, I am enjoying what I have read. My thanks go to Oprah for her recommendation.
The power is back on, using our CAT generator, so I’ll go and make the coffee and come back in a moment. Due to the power fluctuations, I write this in Word and paste it to the blog when I am able to get out on the internet. Ahh, I do enjoy the Haitian bleu coffee here. I slept well after I got to sleep. I quit trying to post pictures around 8 PM and showered. There was a Scrabble game going on in the kitchen so it did not quiet down until the game was over. That gave me time to reflect on the day, say some prayers for the deceased man, for this team, for my family, and for myself. That is a good thing.
A note to Mike: Thanks for the comment on my blog. I had some fun with Renee by telling her it was from a fellow by the name of Dave and she could not figure out who Dave was until she read the comment. I appreciate also your kind words. Also this is a note to Lori Ann, our David’s friend, who was inspired by my blog to create her own blog on the Xanga site. If you want to find the web address, you will need to reach Lori Ann’s comment on my blog. Also a thank you to Victoria, Lori Ann’s daughter for helping this team have so many reading glasses to pass along to the Haitian people. My translator, Belanay, or Oh Baloney as we call to him-Thanks to Sharon D of the January team, just loves to fit people with the glasses. Yes, we have run out of shoes for everyone. We are also, as mentioned previously, out of baby bottles and formula. I alo want to say Thanks to my team mates fan clubs as the reports of my blog are brought to me almost as soon as you send them. It makes the time that I take to write this much more enjoyable when I know that people read it and appreciate it. Today we will be taking our team picture as Jeremy is leaving the team early so he can get to San Antonio and close on the new house that Loti and Jeremy have purchased there in Texas. Note to Lori: Thanks again for sharing Jeremy for this mission. You know that I love to work with the both of you and miss you two in Peoria.
I do want to comment on the weather on this mission. In spite of the rain, this is the most favorable temperatures that I have encountered on the 7 previous missions that I have been on. This past January was hot and sticky and I suspect the upcoming July mission that I will be on next will be hot and muggy as it was last year. By the way, for those new to FOTCOH, we now hold 6 missions (one every other month) to Haiti. You can find more information at if you are ever interested in going on a mission, have someone who would like to go on a mission, or have some extra money to donate to our mission work. We are not a religion based group and so we depend on friends, relatives, and some corporate donations for our existence. The costs to run this organization, hold our clinics, order medications and supplies, run the sponsor child program, and all of the other details runs over $500,000.00 per year. Our fund raising efforts are huge and, I am told by the board of directors, we are seriously in need of cash in order to pay a large bill for medications for the next two clinics. We purchase the bulk of our medications from MAP International ( Among their duties is supplying medications to missionaries like FOTCOH at some very low prices. They too, raise money from donations and we sometimes get extra help with our shipping costs as well as our drug costs from MAP. There is a main office in Holland and we work closely with the wonderful people of MAP in Georgia. So you get to hear my soapbox speech today but I have developed a strong passion for the work that FOTCOH does here in Haiti and a special love for Dick and Barb, the founders. It sounds like every one is up and rolling along. NO reports of mosquito attacks so the coils must be working. I’ll close this and try to post.