The end of a lovely calm weekend after the "storm". I went for a long walk down the highway towards the town on Sunday. Most days I wouldn't even think of doing that cause it's way too hot! Everyone greets me with "Bonswa" and a smile. A couple of young girls did laugh as I walked by and I heard the word "blan".
Just like in Vernon when it rains mid August, the air temp here has cooled. I'm actually having a light blanket on while I sleep!!!! After many nights of tossing and turning in the heat, this is a welcome reprieve.
We had a marvelous time at Moulin Sur Mer for my birthday. The hurricane was "blowing" but we knew the eye had passed so figured it was "safe". Off 7 of us went in Elsie's truck....it's not far from here. It was lightly raining and beautiful by the ocean with the surf crashing onto the beach. (normally a dead quiet ocean) But we were under cover and enjoying the evening. The meals here take a long time to get ready and after a while of waiting we realized the surf was really crashing much higher and harder against the stone retaining wall on the beach. Then it absolutely began to POUR rain....steady and strong. We began to wonder about our decision to be "out in a hurricane" but Elsie said all was fine. However when we finally left.....in a covered golf cart to our vehicle.......we saw that all the grounds were now under about 6" of water and we had to drive through water to get to the highway!!!! But back at Canaan, which is up the hill from the highway, all was well. It rained hard all that night with big winds but we were all safe and warm and dry!
It's been busy the last 2 days as I've been off to Pierre Payen....that's the nearby town where I worked with the surgical team from Pennsylvania. I need to find out what supplies are available for the next OR team arriving Nov 23 and needed to coordinate the search with Edgar, an interpretor. Even after thinking I'd arranged it, Edgar was off to Port au Prince to pick up a team and take them to Boreal, about 2 hours from here. So instead Susan and I worked with Annie in the clinic with the local doctors....quite an experience! Similar to Nicaragua. Then we spent some time helping the nurse look after a few cholera patients that were there. This local hospital has dismal supplies and we were alarmed at the care! When we talked to Elsie about it, she came and checked it out and we determined that something needed to be done. 2 men had died that day and there was no more IV solution available for the night. So we loaded 3 of the worst patients into the back of Elsie's truck....and their families.....and off we went in the dark to drive to St Marc Hospital where I had worked last week. Nov 4...the last night I worked.....there were 210 cholera patients. Now there are more than 400. There's been a huge increase since the hurricane. The facility had people everywhere!!!!!! They had run out of beds and so the sick were lying on the benches in the triage area.....head to toe! One family carried in their teenage daughter, limp in their arms, and laid her at my feet on the gravel floor. I got a blanket underneath her and started 2 IVs and ran them open!!!! Nick went out to our truck and brought in the thin mattress that we had in the back of the truck for transport and we put her on that! Doctors without Borders is an amazing organization and they were truly doing their best but the numbers are overwhelming. We ended up staying and helping for about 3 hours. One young girl that we had brought was immediately surrounded by about 4 docs and they resuscitated her for about an hour.....miraculously we heard she did make it through the night however the reason she was doing so very poorly is that she has syphylis. She is only about 10!!! She has no family and lives in Montrouis in an orphanage. A cousin of hers did arrive before we left to spend the night with her. Without family, these people would be in a much worse state. There's no way they could get enough staff to tend to them with diarrhea and vomiting!!!
We got back home about 10pm and literally fell into bed as the lights went out. We have power by the generator every evening from 6 til 10 and there's scattered power in different buildings during the day!
Today I again arranged to be in PP to meet Edgar at 9am and again he went off on another errand!!!! This time to St Marc and was very apologetic and promised to be back by noon. Everyone here has a cell phone......yes, even me.......and there is constantly a phone ringing. But it does work to keep in touch. I'm even learning to text!!! To get to PP we didn't have a ride so we flagged down a local "tap-tap" (commuter truck) and paid our 10 goude each (about a quarter) and off we went! When you want to stop, you just "tap-tap" on the back window or on the side of the truck, and they stop and you get out!
We got the supplies checked and helped out in the OR for 4 surgeries.......the first done there since our team had been working! It was fun to work with Emylene again and Dr. Jean-Robert whom we had worked with Monday. First case was supposed to be a hydrocele repair and turned out to be "elephantitis" instead so the 19 year old boy had an orchiectomy instead. No pathology done. Did a couple more hernias and then an abdominal hyster. Most cases are done with ketamine, monitored by an oximeter for heart rate and O2 sat. The hyster was done with spinal and sedation. No back table.....all the instruments on the mayo stand. It was almost more than I could bear!!!
Not sure what tomorrow will bring.....I may stay here at Canaan and work with the school children. They always need someone to read to. A team from New Jersey is here now tiling the new clinic floor and said they may need me there. Lots of floor to do which I hope gets done so I can help Elsie move into there while I'm still here in early Dec. On Thursday the rest of the Vernonites are arriving and we'll all be at Clean Water for Haiti for a week. It's a beautiful spot, right on the ocean so will be able to have a few "dips" while we're there!!! A very tranquil spot!! It'll be fun to see everyone again.
It's 9:30 pm now......I'm the last one in the cafeteria....everyone's gone to bed already!!! Soon lights out and then the dogs start barking and the toads start croaking and the rooster starts crowing about 3am and then the dogs start up again. There are lower (on the hill) dogs
and upper dogs and they fight every night for territory. The upper dogs are pets for Gladys and Henri and get fed and the lower dogs have to scrounge. Puppies get eaten regularly....good thing as there is lots of "puppy making" going on!!!! Then about 5am, they feed the pigs who are penned near our house and their squealing and grunting is a noise not to be missed!! I just can't wear ear plugs....it's enough to have my CPAP helmet on......but I actually do sleep through it all some nights. (Mom wouldn't be surprised to hear that.)
Blessings to all. Say a prayer for all the people in the world who don't have what you have in your lives right now! We are so very blessed in Canada. There has to be ways for each and every one of us to help someone in some way. I encourage you all to find some way to make a difference. It becomes a life changing experience, believe me!
Over and out.......................