A Travellerspoint blog

A great birthday present!

Tomorrow is my birthday and I'm celebrating as God is just sooooooo good to me and what is happening here in Haiti! As many of you know, Linda Frandsen and I came here to distribute the kits from the DaysforGirls project. We are hoping to make monthly menses so much more manageable for girls and women here...as has been proven to be true in Africa. We are so proud to be part of the Kelowna and Vernon groups of women who are sewing these kits! Thank you all so very much for your time and energy and donations of material and funds.
Linda purchased a treadle sewing machine in PAP before coming to Montrouis with great help from my friend Ecclesias. Tonight, with the help of some other Haitian friends, they got the machine working!!! Hallelujah!
And here's the best part.....the present! Elizabeth, an OB/GYN that I've been working with at Pierre Payen Hospital for the past 2 weeks, just emailed and she has set up our first workshop to distribute the kits and provide education on Saturday morning at OSAPO! We are soooo excited. It all really is coming together and things will happen! We will be part of a Youth Education session that has been attended most Saturdays by about 60 people between the ages of 14 to 24....just the age group we want to speak with! 2 Haitian nurses that I got to know in 2011 when teaching about working in the OR have been holding these sessions on their days off. There are so many Haitians trying to help their people....very wonderful to see!
There is another orphanage just around the corner from here that is very poor and we are going to take some kits over there this week. Deena, who runs the orphanage, is very grateful to hear that she won't have to buy products or try to find "comfortable" rags for the girls to use!
My first 2 weeks in country were VERY BUSY with the surgical team but as always, we bonded and worked well together and helped a lot of people. I am grateful for the past nursing experience that I had in my career that gave me the knowledge to help as I can. I felt blessed every day.
I'll try to post some pictures but it takes a long time and internet won't be available soon. Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers.
Blessing to you all........Judy

Posted by jdouglas 18:21 Comments (0)

Is it really October 27 2013????


Hello again to all who are reading this....
I am once again in Montrouis, Haiti for the 5th trip! I feel totally blessed to be here again. I left Vancouver the evening of Oct. 17, flew overnite via Seattle to Miami and arrived in Port au Prince, Haiti at noon on Friday Oct 18.
The first American surgical team that I usually work with arrived Saturday Oct 19 and it's been busy at the hospital in Pierre Payen ever since. Unfortunately (or perhaps "fortunately") Dr. John Judson, leader of the team could not recruit any other nurses for the team and so the first couple of days were spent showing and teaching the team members how we were going to progress from surgery to surgery. The 4 surgeons (2 OB/GYN and 2 GEN) were quick to volunteer assembling instruments and scrubbed with each other for the first few surgeries. Then we were able to integrate the 2 Haitian nurses who usually work in the OR to join us and this team has been going well ever since.
It is a true joy to see the 2 country groups work together to get the work done. I anticipate that next time the forces will join sooner. It all takes time.
We have repaired many hernias, taken out uterui containing the biggest fibroids we have seen (one was 12#9.5oz) and had a baby by C Section. It was a difficult delivery, done under anesthetic for good reasons, and the babe was successfully resuscitated and he and mom and dad have gone home. The team has worked very well together.
Today 3 team members went home to New Hampshire and Pennsylvania and I went with them to PAP to meet up with Linda Frandsen, my dear friend from Kelowna who has come to join me for 6 weeks!!! Thank you God for that blessing!! : ) We presently are sitting by the ocean, waves lapping with a lovely breeze at a resort called "Moulin sur Mer". Google it and you'll see how delightful it is. The team needed a break before carrying on next week and so finally this was a good time for me to get on this blog.
I will try my best to keep in touch....our internet service at the Guesthouse where we are staying is much better than last year but still can be sketchy. Blessing to you all. Keep us in your prayers.

Posted by jdouglas 12:14 Comments (0)

Who would have thought???

Today I realized just how blessed I am to be sent here to help as I am. I am in a position to help people and in turn I am blessed! It doesn't get any better than that.
Today, Alexis's mama came up to me in the hallway where I was working and pointed to a plastic garbage bag and asked me for a "sachet", a bag. She also said something about a "valise for rad"....a container for clothes. We operated on her daughter a week ago and she's been living in the hospital with her. Alexis is getting better...which is a whole other story....and I think Mama wanted to get packing things up.
I knew when some of the teams come, they leave behind their suitcases which then can be given away....usually staff take them. Here in Haiti, a suitcase is often used to store one's clothes in. So I just went to the room where they are stored and gave one to her. She had been expecting a plastic bag of some sort and I could have cried when I saw the delight in her eyes as I handed her the suitcase! She hugged me and gave me a kiss on the cheek and literally skipped away down the hall, talking with excitement as she went. You would have thought I had given her the moon!
Alexis is a 28 year old woman whom we met last year. She lives in a remote part of Lagonave, the big island 45 min away by boat. A dental team had been in the area where she lived and brought her back to the team at Pierre Payen. Alexis's midriff was HUGE and had been growing for the past 8 years. Fluid samples were taken back to the States as well as a CatScan picture of her multi-cystic abdomen. No firm diagnosis was made....parasites were talked about a lot. No American would operate on her and they even searched worldwide for someone who might have seen this before. Last year a team did drain her and took off 18 gallons of dark colored fluid. Within a few months, it was back again....even more so, as the 2nd time she couldn't fit in the CatScan!!! My friend Annie had her live at the orphanage while she was being examined.
So she arrived back at Pierre Payen Hosp. in the final week that a team was there and it ended up being a full Haitian team that operated. Dr. Toussaint and Dr. Jean Robert and physician's asst. Guito did the honors while Miss Gretta gave anesthetic. I wish I would have had a picture of them all.
It was huge surgery.....first they isolated and took out a huge cyst encompassing most of the abdomen (drained off 20 liters of fluid) and then found a tumor up near her liver that was encapsulated and was able to extract it fully.
She is now off IV's, eating and drinking and ambulating. I think they'll keep her for a bit more as she lives so far away. Time will tell if her abdomen fills up again. Annie visits her most days and I see her while I'm at work. We walk her a lot which helps move her gas and we pray with her that she won't form bad adhesions and obstruct. So far so good!!!!
Gretta and I are trying to get all the final boxes emptied and items put away...either in the workroom or over in the Depot. Today she was supposed to be with me all day but she had to be at the clinic seeing patients as Dr. Jean Robert didn't show up! Just when we needed it we found a new glucometer that the last team had brought with them. There was a fellow in ER who was hypertensive and hyperglycemic. It was an Accucheck and I was able to read the English instructions to see how to code the meter properly!!!! That's how most of my days go.....I seem to be in the right place at the right time with the right amount of knowledge needed!!!! I guess 43 years of nursing does pay off!!! : )
And now time for bed....off in the distance there is music playing....after all it is Friday night and most people do like to party!!! : ) Annie is sitting in her rocker with Wesley, cuddling. He is going to be adopted by a wonderful family from the States. Polly had come here in April with a team and had come to the orphanage to visit and fell in love with Wesley. Annie is so very happy for him, to help him get good schooling and be with a family that will love him and care for him.....but she will miss him dearly. He is 4 now and has been here since Annie found him (at 18 months) in a hospital bed "living" there with his father who was paralyzed after falling out of a tree. The staff begged Annie to please take Wesley and care for him. Dad was unable and mom wasn't around anymore.
So goodnight from Haiti.....hmmmm, dogs have started barking already. Annie and I yell at them to BE QUIET every now and then and they stop for a minute. As soon as they're done the roosters start crowing. I must try to get used to wearing ear plugs!
xoxoxo Judy

Posted by jdouglas 18:12 Comments (0)

Catch up time!!! It's Dec 1!!!!!

Here I sit, facing the ocean, palm trees providing shade as it's already hot at 9am. The coolness after Hurricane Sandy is slowly leaving us! I am in my swim suit and contemplating booking a massage for later in the morning. I just ate a wonderful omelette at the buffet here at Club Indigo! Yes there is all this luxury here for me to enjoy in Haiti! I always have mixed emotions when I come here as I know there are still people living in tents in dusty fields outside of PAP. God is very good to me in that I do get to come here and relax and re-energize.
I joined my Haitian nurse friend Judith here last night and stayed with her overnight. 3 nurses and 2 doctors from OSAPO have been here all week at a seminar about Primary Health Care....sponsored by a company called iTECH. They are hoping to get electronic charting started at OSAPO and other centers and so provide training for the staff that will be using it. Judith was very excited about getting this started both at OSAPO and PPH. (Pierre Payen Hospital)
The last of 4 teams left yesterday morning. We did 12 surgeries on Thursday and then headed to Moulin Sur Mer for a last night celebration of a very successful week. I was totally exhausted and told them all that I was going to be happy to "see the backs of their heads!" : ) I had planned to come here to Indigo yesterday but ended up spending the day at the hospital puttering. Just couldn't settle into a relaxing mode yet.....but today is different! : ) Judith and friends have just loaded up in a car and are headed back to PAP and their families and so here I am with you.
I continue to be amazed at how many "hits" there are on this blog and I thank you for the encouragement that gives me. I hope I'm giving you some insight about life here in Haiti as I ramble. I had previously written some thoughts and saved them as drafts til now so here the "ramblings" start......(written beginning of November before the 1st surgical team arrived)......

The latest happening is that Annie's dog Abraham killed 2 of the neighbor's pigs and now we figure there's going to be a "manifestation" cause they're not happy with the $$ she gave them. These are the same neighbors who 3 years ago stole the invertor from here, got caught at it, charged and went to jail. Crazy world eh! Now every time the gate opens, Abraham tries to get out and the kids all go running after him. I think he's got the taste of blood now and likes it. He killed one of Lisa's chickens a few weeks ago! He's a beautiful black Lab who is great with the kids...and most Haitians are afraid of him even though he wouldn't bite a human! (can't say now that he "wouldn't hurt a flea!")
The first American team arrives tomorrow. Hospital renovations are still happening and the OR workroom is almost ready but it's as good as it's going to get. It'll be good to have others to help get it finished....

November week #1 and 2 was with the John Judson team from Pennsylvania. I've worked with them before and as before, they arrived without any OR nursing knowledge. Tiz returned (from 2010) and so remembered some of what she learned about OR work and so was the main circulator. Pat was quickly trained as the OR scrub nurse and away we went. There were others out on the ward working with the Haitian staff and a popular lab tech with an iSTAT machine which got a lot of use! She was hoping to convince her hospital to let her leave it but to no avail so that's another thing that I will add to a fundraising list!
The rest of the time with Judson was steady....and my best decision at the end of their time was to leave and go to Port Salut when Joe's large Nebraska team (Nov. Week #3) arrived. I stayed with them Friday night and Saturday day to orientate them to all the changes and left to go home to Annie's Sat night and then on to PAP and Port Salut on Sunday. It was a wonderful 4 days off....and I felt sane again when I returned. I missed the initial chaos and they were settled in somewhat by then. It had been extremely busy but God did send the right people. Sat. night there had been a stabbing....pierced a lung and nicked the heart but Joe Austin was here and he is a cardiac/thoracic surgeon! Isn't it amazing how God works! The fellow went home today. So many things like that happen....we all should write a book of God's miracles and how He plans things. How can anyone believe it all happens "by chance"!!!!
I worked as a "rover" for the rest of week #3 as there was still lots to put away and direct people, etc and Week #4 I was back in the OR but with 2 experienced OR nurses. Quite a difference from Judson's team!

On Friday, when most of the WEEK #3 team left, those of us left refused to let Joe book more OR cases (we did 4 minor lumps in the morning).....and we even got him to take the whole of Sat. off and we went touring! Ken and Betty and Bim and Tim and Steve from Project Help-Haiti came and got us 12 and off we went to Project Help-Haiti's Borel compound and then headed to the new "Partners in Health" Mirebalis Hospital! We wangled our way in for a guided tour : ) and thoroughly enjoyed that. There will be about 250 beds when they open in ?Feb/Mar 2013 and the eventual vision is to even do heart surgery there. One wing is focused on women's health, one for pediatrics and then a general ward. 2 xray rooms, 1 CAT scan and eventually an MRI. It's about 1 1/2 hours drive from PAP and as per PIH's philosophy, it is free health care for the poor. There are no private rooms, all open wards of beds and so they're hoping that those who can afford to pay for care will go elsewhere.....like Pierre Payen Hospital!!! The philosophy at PPH is to provide private care for those who can afford it and then use that money to help pay for services in the "community" ward to provide health care for those who can't afford to pay. People still have to pay a small amount at the "community" hospital as there is no desire to enhance a "welfare" state here in Haiti. Dr. Gardy and the OSAPO team is adamant about that. When we saw people in clinic, they all had to pay 100 goude ($2.50) for a consult and then pre-pay for the surgery before they got put on the slate. Of course, this process was bypassed for emergencies.
With the renovations, PPH now has about 25 beds...all semi-private or private. The community side has about 20 beds, set up in 2 wards.
Nov. Week #4 with the team continued to be busy. I don't know how many people were seen or surgeries done but I know our day started at 5:30am and ended about 10pm! We tried to meet by 7am in the dining room for breakfast but most mornings there seemed to be some "emergency" and so we were already in the hospital! One morning it was a caesarian section for eclampsia, another morning it was a re-insertion of a pulled out suprapubic catheter post-prostatectomy, etc etc. In the last 7 days, there have been 12 babies born, one successful resuscitation after section, one born on the road just outside the hospital gates as she just couldn't quite make it to the emergency room! We carried her into the triage on a stretcher as Grandma cleaned the baby, delivered the placenta and next thing we knew, mom was up and loaded into the back of a truck that had pulled up to the door and off they all went while we cleaned up!!! : ) Ah, such is life in Haiti!
My time in Port Salut on the Caribbean south arm of Haiti was wonderful. I finally got to see another part of this beautiful country. It's more rural than this north arm, smaller communities along the road but still lots of people up in the surrounding mountains. I had been invited to come to the grand opening of the new pediatric hospital there. I will try to post some pics. A couple from Minneapolis (Michelle and Jeff Boston) first went there 9 years ago and recognized the need for more health care and now their vision/dream is reality. Check their website www.notimeforpoverty.org
My plans for the next 9 days is to help Miss Gretta finish clean up post-team at the hospital. We want to meet with the staff to debrief/evaluate the experience of a very busy month of working with the Americans. She and I have recognized some gaps in the nursing knowledge for post-op care and last night I spoke with Judith about that and she is going to contact Gretta and they will hold some inservices for both the OSAPO and PPH nurses!
But right now I'm going to post this and then go jump in the pool! I will try to post some pics from my time here and in Port Salut.
I hope I have inspired some of you to think about coming to Haiti. There is need for all sorts of health care professionals, construction, electronics, plumbing and electrical, teaching, social welfare, etc etc....... anyone with a heart to serve. Don't ever think that just because you don't have "medical knowledge" you won't find something to do here. We all have gifts and so are just required to be willing.
1 Peter 5:2 "Not because I must but because I am willing"
all for now......blessings to all who read this.
xoxo Judy

Posted by jdouglas 05:49 Comments (0)

Written in week #2...

posted in week #4! Where has the time gone??

Hmmm....this post will be called a late edition! I thought I had posted this after I wrote it but just found it in the "drafts". It'll help explain some of the pics I had posted of what looks like a big ant hill......

Tonight I actually remembered how to add pictures to the gallery. You'll see they're of the charcoal business next door along with the planting and hoeing. Eddy, who works here for Annie, is instrumental in getting this little planting done of the CHIA. He and a group of friends are trying to see how it will grow here....and then he says, we'll be rich!

I've just made my morning coffee and "delivered" it to Lisa, Genesis, Ser Paul and Eddy, and Mama and Evens. My one little botum pot does us all. I woke this morning while it was still dark to the sounds of a fellow next door hoeing the rocky dirt. They're cleaning out a patch of ground and starting a small crop of CHIA....a newish product around that is supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread!!! : ) It's supposedly healthy and full of everything we need....and Eddy from here got some $ from a friend to rent this patch of ground and hire men to prepare the ground and tend to the crop. I met Martino yesterday as I took him over a cold beer as he had been working in the hot sun all day. It's a great way to meet people and my Creole is getting good enough that I can ask a few questions and understand their answers! He also is preparing a bed for tomatoes...like the pictures I have shown you before. Don't need a hot house here....the whole country is one big hot house!!!

The sad news of the day is that Kristi has seen a rat in one of the rooms so we have to clean it out of piles of stuff so it has no place to hide. I haven't seen it yet and hope never to!!! A trap has been set with peanut butter and the critter just licks it off!!!!

I had the 3 girls up here a couple of nights ago and had Justin Bieber on full blast and we danced and danced. They loved it. The boys were clamoring outside the door to come in too but I wanted something special just for the girls. I haven't given them the posters and magazines yet of him. I'm afraid the boys will be jealous so have to figure out the best way to do this! I'm thinking I will ask them what kind of posters they would like and then bring them next time.

At the hospital I have a young Haitian man named Youbenson helping me. He reaches/climbs to the top of the pile and brings the boxes down for me. Then I sift thru them, keep what we can use and start a "poubel" (garbage) pile. He then hauls it away across the road and has a big fire going by noon!!! So much waste....of time collecting the supplies, and the money of bringing them here and then more time storing them and then the waste cause the storage buildings leak or have rats in them that eat thru things!!! CRAZY eh!!! And now I've spent 2 years sorting!!! But not complaining.....hopefully we'll get it all figured out right this time. I've got someone who is taking all the excess we can't use and delivering it to other hospitals or clinics. No sense keeping it here "just in case".

The children are wonderful. I love getting together with them in the morning. They arrive at the table dragging their bums and looking sad as it's early and by the time they leave, they're laughing and full of energy....and all thru just reading something in the Bible and talking about it and singing a song!!! : )
Wesley arrived to sit beside me and feels really hot so he's been doctored with some Tylenol and Kristi will watch over him today.

and that's as far as I wrote that day....I had originally titled it "2nd week gone by" so about 2 weeks ago!! : )

Posted by jdouglas 18:06 Comments (2)

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