On the last quick update, we had just survived a course of undesired Haitian Happiness, the only member of our team to not participate was Teri Pols, as Dan informed us that he also joined us on his way home on Wednesday and was unable to work on Thursday due to the aftereffects. Of interest is that I have only had this trouble three times in my 13 years in Haiti, the last 2 being when I was on Chemotherapy and thus had a weaker immune system than normal and the last 2 times it was with a team consisting of several members of my family, all of which participated in the fun. However, we survived and Friday was a good day to wrap up projects. Butch, with his team of Haitian cement workers, poured the cap on the floor of the waiting room (it is the roof of the physical therapy, so was never finished as was just a roof), he said his arms and legs ached as we flew home the next day as running the bull float and smoothing the final finish on his knees all day was a bit much after being down for a couple days, but it looked great as we departed.
Dave and Paul fixed up a number of other repair jobs, including doors that don’t close well, some plumbing work and other greatly appreciated work as maintenance is not a well understood concept in the Haitian culture. The rest of the crew did a number of organization items to get us ready to go the next day and all went pretty well. After surgery, I had another meeting with the USAID/Pathfinder employees, not a fun thing as the well meaning USAID creates unrest and unfair salary differences between their employees and those of CSL, yet they want to work within our system and not create their own, understandably, and so the differences are laid out in the open for all to see. Grumbling about such things as the fact that the Christians don’t pay as well as the non Christians makes for problems I have to deal with continually, as well funded NGOs like USAID, Doctors without Borders, the UN and other groups come in for a short period of time with lots of cash, pay their employees much beyond what we can afford to pay and still try to build a sustainable organization that will endure beyond our presence.
As you may know, the elections were delayed and that only brought out more rioting, such foolishness, but what is to be done. We got to the airport in plenty of time, checked in through American Airlines and got in the longest line I have ever seen in the airport to go through security. We had longer lines outside after the earthquake just to get in, but this was a surprise. Dan had similar problems on Wednesday, so not sure what is going on but we finally had American Airlines personnel take us to the front of the line as our plane was boarding after standing in line for 1.5 hours and going nowhere in a hurry. We got through immigration and a second AA security checkpoint and raced onto the plane just before the doors closed. No one seems to know what the problem was, there were no people in the waiting lounge for the Miami flight due to leave an hour later so presume the problem was fairly complex, but who ever knows. Flights home for the other 7 members of our group went well, Butch has gone with me the last 4 Januarys and the last 3 we have had snow storms mess us up and this was no exception. With much finagling, I was able to reroute us through Ft Lauderdale to Charlotte, then to Phoenix, back to Chicago and home by noon on Sunday. We couldn’t find a pilot in Lauderdale to fly for an hour, another delay, then at 3 am in Phoenix, couldn’t find a flight attendant and thus were not able to leave for an hour and a half, so that had to reschedule out of Chicago. Apparently some grumbling there escalated to the point that suddenly armed police showed up to quell the disturbance (they looked a bit bewildered as Butch and I also didn’t see anything other than the normal grumbling one expects when a flight is delayed in the wee hours of the morning). But, we made it home, by the grace of God and were thankful.
So, back home to work and to chemo, which has NOT been a bunch of fun this time, not that it ever is. Normally, I only drink clear liquids for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with the chemo running in, as anything more brings visits to the ceramic bowl to relieve the nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. This time, it has been about 5 times worse with severe dehydration and my nurse Theresa came out on Saturday and put an IV in me that still is running 2 days later after 8 quarts have run in. I am now able to drink some water and hope that I can be able to return to work tomorrow as will back up my clinic here also further. Today, the first of February, I am waiting to hear if Dr. William and Adulte will be able to start their residencies in the midst of all the political turmoil in Haiti. They probably will have extra work to do with all the casualties from the rioting. Once they have established their residency rules, they will look for a place to live, as one has to pay the whole year’s rent in advance and you can’t find ads for much in Port, you just ask the street vendors close to where you might want to stay if they know of any places for rent in the area. They have to be within walking distance of the hospital as traffic is horrendous in Port au Prince, no rules, just craziness. So, pray for my two colleagues as they begin this 4 year phase in their lives, for strength, encouragement and God’s grace to prevail. Also for their families as they put up with their prolonged absences and for the finances we need to help them make up the differences in salaries between our hospital and the salary the government pays.
In His Service,
Bill for Brianna, Butch, Dan, Dave, Marge, Paul, Tabitha, Teri, and Tia