Tuesday, January 19, 2010

not forgotten

Last night I spent some time at the clinic here on the mission center.  I told them to put me on the on call list if they ever needed help.  I wasn’t medical but was willing to do whatever.  Sheila, one of the other missionaries who was volunteering last night came and got me about 7pm. 

There wasn’t too much activity, I guess not as much as they had expected to have so there wasn’t a lot for me to “do”.  There were four ladies in the room when I arrived.  One had a massive wound on her foot.  She had had emergency surgery some days before but it looked as though infection was setting in, and she had gangrene on one of her toes.  She wasn’t in the room too long because the doctor took her into surgery to reopen her foot and see what kind of repairs he could make.  He was afraid she might loose her foot but after the surgery he felt like he could save it.  That surgery will have to happen later this week.  Once he was done with her surgery, they took her upstairs.  I didn’t get her name, but I do know she is 22 years old.  Pray for her.  She will need much grace and comfort in the coming months. 

Another of the ladies had broken hips and some kind of pelvic injury.  I didn’t get to speak with her.  She was in a lot of pain and mostly slept.  I didn’t get her name either.  But God knows who she is- so keep her in your prayers.

Rita was a little older, I’d guess mid 40s.  She had scrapes and scratches on her face a small flesh wound on her right knee, a slightly larger, extremely deep whole in her left leg and at least one broken femur.  They were working on cleaning her wounds when I arrived.  She was in Port au Prince when the quake occurred but came to Cayes because she has family here.  She has 5 children.  I couldn’t understand if some of her children died in the quake or not.  Once I understood her to say yes and once I understand her to say no.  That's my fault- I’m still learning Creole.  Her husband is also here in the hospital.  Both of his legs were crushed in the quake.  Life will be hard for them in the coming months and years.  She needs our prayers.  Pray that she will be able to walk away from the trauma of her past emotionally and spiritually whole. Pray for God’s mercy, healing, and grace to surround her and comfort her now.  Pray for His provision and mercy to meet her in her future.

Molienne is who I spent most of my time with.  When I arrived she had a cast on her leg from mid calf down.  Not long after I arrived they were cutting a window into her cast to expose a massive open wound on her foot and heel. They had no pain killer to give her so she felt everything.  Li fe mal!  Li fe mal! LI FE MAL!!  She screamed; over and over again.  It hurts! It hurts!  IT HURTS!!!  All those of us there could do was to hold her hands, wipe the sweat from her brow and pray for her.  She asked for water once.  There was a plastic cup sitting on the counter, no one knew if it was clean or not; it was all we had.  I rinsed it, filled it and brought it to her.  Once the window was opened, some of the pain subsided and she was able to calm down.  There was a visiting U.S. Dr. and a local Haitian “Dr”.  He is a self-made Dr of sorts.  His brother was in an accident many years ago and lost both his arms.  That birthed in his heart the desire to be a Dr but without knowing for sure, I would venture to guess he never had to opportunity to attend Medical School.  So he taught himself what he knows.  In general, from what I understand the care he gives is adequate.  While he may not be able to solve complex medical mysteries, much of what he sees on a regular basis he is able to do well enough.  He is the one who casted Molienne and he is the one who was opening the window.  The visiting US Dr. was going to do follow up, access the state of the wound and perform surgery to close the foot and begin the process of healing.  But he needed to see the X-rays first.  Before he could do any further work on her he needed to know what the state of her broken bone was and he couldn’t know that until he saw the X-ray.  Somehow the X-ray was missing.  It was have to wait.  There were other patients to see and three patients waiting in the O.R.  I think the assumption was that she would have her wound wrapped and it could be further examined today, when the X-rays were located.  In a relief situation like this, things aren’t like they usually are.  Things often seem disorganized and out of order.  The self made Dr. was sick.  He had a fever.  And so he left.  The tools were left lying on Molienne’s bed, plaster dust surrounded her foot, and the wound lay open, slightly bloody and exposed.  The girl that had gangrene was the next to be checked and everyone moved to her bedside but I stayed with Molienne.  The girl with gangrene was assessed and it was decided she would need surgery to reopen the wound to determine if her foot could be saved.  The visiting Dr left the room to prepare.  And within a minute a two and after a quick flurry of activity, everyone was gone.  All of the other volunteers were gone. They had an organizational conference call they couldn’t miss.  All the medical staff disappeared.  I was alone in the room with the girl with the broken hips, Rita, Molienne, and their families.  One of the missionary kids, Sarah, who had been volunteering with her family almost every night for the last week eventually came back in and stayed for a little while.  Molienne kept saying she was tired and wanting to sleep but she couldn’t sleep on her back, the way the “Dr'” had left her.  So we tried several times to carefully move her legs so we could get her on her side.  She was a brave girl; only 10 years old.  She and her family were from Port Salut, the same place I had been just a week earlier with the team.  They were visiting Port au Prince when the quake happened.  She had been hit by falling cinderblocks.  She was an only child and her mom and dad were there with here.  They had all survived.  I didn’t know what to do or where to go so I just stayed and sat with her.  We held hands and chatted, we talked about me, we talked about her, we talked about what she wanted to be when she grows up.  She wants to be a Doctor.  When the pain would get to be too much I told her she could squeeze my hands as hard as she needed to.  Sometimes she did.  She would call out in pain and her mother would come over and we’d comfort her.  Her mother was exhausted.  You could see it in her eyes. That's partially why I stayed, so her mother could get a much needed break.  They had been in Cayes since Wednesday.  They had already been to one hospital in the area and received very little help.   I imagine it wasn’t because they didn’t want to help her, but the other hospital is swamped as well.  Finally, on Saturday her parents brought her to the clinic to seek help.  She had had the cast on since Saturday.  The wound had been covered with a simple layer of gauze under all that plaster for almost 3 days; its no wonder it hurt when they opened the cast.  Molienne was good natured.   She even smiled quite a bit.  She was soft spoken and well mannered.  There were times when her face would begin to grimace. so to pass the time and keep her mind off the pain, we sang a few songs.  I don’t know too many songs by heart in Creole yet so I thought her one that my churches team had translated years before.  I told her when she had lots of pain, or when she was sad, she could remember these words.  I sang it once for her and then we sang it together, many times.  I hope the message resonates in her heart long after she returns to Port Salut and life gets back to normal.  Mwen pa yon moun ki’bliye.  Mwen pa yon moun ki’bliye.  Mwen pa yon moun ki’bliye.  Bondye konnen nom’m.  Li konnen nom’m.  I am not forgotten, I am not forgotten.  I am not forgotten,  God knows my name.  He knows my name.

Finally around 11:35 one of the other missionaries, Tim, Sarah’s dad, came back and saw that I was still there.  And he saw that the wounds of both Rita and Molienne were still open and uncovered.  He immediately sprung into action, found beds for them (Rita was on a mattress on a makeshift bed and Molienne was on an exam table, the lady with the broken hips was already on a hospital bed) and we took them all upstairs to get wrapped up and made more comfortable.

I sat with Molienne for several hours; almost 4.  I didn’t get the go see her today, I spent a good bit of my day in town shopping for supplies but I’m hoping to get to see her tomorrow. 

Pray for Molienne.  Pray for her healing and pray for her heart.  Pray that the things she has seen and experienced as a ten year old child will only serve to strengthen her resolve to appreciate life and serve God.  Pray that the trauma will be a forgotten thing.  Pray for her mother and father.  Pray that their relationship and their family would be strengthened through this.

1 comment:

Erin K. said...

I can't imagine this. I mean, I'm sitting here reading it, but the reality of it seems like too much to take in. I just can't imagine the mental and emotional (not to mention physical) exhaustion that everyone must be facing. I pray for renewed strength for all of you, and I will certainly be praying for the healing (physical and emotional) of those you mentioned. Psalm 20 is my prayer for you!! http://www.biblestudytools.com/psalms/20.html