The Haitian Donkey heads home from the hospital a bit puzzled

Hi All:

With finagling, I hope to get home tomorrow. After 5 days here, I feel good, the cultures have raised more questions than they have answered, and Sunday I become mature enough that I have to switch to Medicare and can no longer go to Spectrum Hospitals (politics of medicine, Spectrum and Priority want everyone to buy Priority and I cannot, as they would not let me continue with Pittsburgh), so have to go home. We have grown out 3 different bacterium, starting with the odd one that Metro also grew out, which we have dubbed the “alfalfa bacteria” as it helps the hay fields add nitrogen to the soil that corn and other crops take out  But how did I get that in my blood? The second is also a puzzle and rare and the 3rd very rare. So, with all that, the antibiotic sensitivities still are not back and we don’t really yet know what antibiotics to use, let alone send me home on.

Nevertheless, home I will go, as sitting here doesn’t really accomplish much that I cannot do much more cheaply at home. The experts are puzzled as much as the Haitian Donkey, not an encouraging sign. We thus will go home on IV antibiotics for a couple weeks, adjusting them whenever the antibiotic sensitivities come back (hopefully soon) and follow their advice. Thus, as I reach this milestone of maturity, I do have several prayer requests for divine wisdom and direction:

  1. Where to seek medical care now that I have reached this milestone of maturity and the restrictions placed by Medicare/Spectrum/Priority that would still provide a high level of care.
  2. What antibiotics to use and for how long to kill these quirky bugs for good.
  3. How to prevent them from coming back.
  4. How to properly phase in work in Jenison and Haiti into my life schedule.

We would appreciate your prayers for wisdom that we would accomplish His will in our lives every day.

In His Service,

Bill and Karen

 

 

The Haitian Donkey resides in an American Hospital

Hi All:
Wanted to give you a brief update as appreciate all the care, prayers and concern shown to us during this difficult period. Some of you know that about 4-5 weeks ago, I aspirated some of my medicine to control my diarrhea, it is nasty but lifesaving, as without it I would be bathroom bound. Ever since the chemotherapy, swallowing has been a bit more risky due to diffuse nerve damage but this time I spiked a fever in 2 days and started antibiotics that brought the fever down but never felt back to my normal self. Karen and I had promised our daughter, Rachel, that we would bring a trailer of her stuff to the University of Arkansas, as she now has a tenure job there teaching Spanish literature. We did a bunch of repairs to the house, installing shelving, curtain rods, and a number of projects in the 2 days we had there and headed back. I certainly was whipped easily but pressed on to get done what I could for her. Since then, I have run a low grade temp but my blood was ok, so I continued working and doing what needed to be done. Shortly before leaving for Haiti on the 9th of September, my temp went back up so I increased by antibiotics and went, a bit feeble, but the Haitian Donkey is always a bit on the feeble side since the surgeries and other ministrations.

With my med school classmate/buddy’s help (he is an internist but quite capable) we were able to make the week work, though Duane sternly prohibited me from pushing the trolleys with patients up the ramp as I normally do, to help them move safely to their beds (Jean Eddy and I get some family to help us move, we need to be careful as they really have no idea of patient safety) and then I give the family the report of the surgery and instructions for food, activity, etc. He said it in his usual boisterous voice and everyone heard it, so they chimed in in letting me do this job (I just went up the spiral staircase and did the upstairs stuff). Coming home, I got chilled in the Delta lounge in Haiti but otherwise things went well, Dr. Mike was worried with my shaking chills and rigors, but I assured him this, too, would pass, and it did.

Once home, we drew blood cultures at Metro Hospital that were not very helpful and started an IV antibiotic and it seemed to help ’til last weekend, when the fevers and chills got more serious and I ended up going to Spectrum Blodgett on Sunday afternoon. So far, apparently the catheter has grown out the usual GI bugs, but the final results are not there yet and they just drew another set from my catheter. So, please pray that they won’t have to pull my catheter and that if they do, they can replace it, as the other 3 sites are all clotted off. On the new IV antibiotics, I feel quite decent, but can’t stay on them forever. Thus, the next couple days may do a lot to determine my future, as I cannot eat enough to stay alive without my daily lunch in my catheter, so praying that I will have a catheter in by the end of the week one way or another.

 

Thanks, as always, for your prayers and support for us personally and the work in Haiti.

In His Service,

Bill and Karen

The Haitian Donkey and his friends plod along, making progress

Hi All:
The week is almost over, as usual, it seems to fly by. It has been pleasantly warm for a decrepit Haitian Donkey, likely a bit much for his friends. Poor Duane has been sweating as he has so many jobs to do, as usual, they trickle in over the week rather than being organized, as we would like. As mentioned, they got the roof on James’ house, he is scoping out building one for another poor, elderly cleaning lady who has a bunch of losers for children who mooch off her rather than helping her in her later years. She needs to retire, but cannot with no help, so we are hoping that by building this for her, she can retire when she can no longer go on with her cleaning work. We finally got a clear title on her land that her sister donated to her (she lives in the US and Rosanna lived in her sister’s house with a boatload of relatives). The relatives have no respect for Rosanna’s God or her values, once they showed up and the mid thirties daughter said I needed to do an abortion for her. She was rather upset when I told her that I could not do so as a Christian, nor as part of our Christian institution.

I have been running a low grade fever almost daily, despite increasing my daily dose of Levaquin to 750 mg daily from 500 and then up to 1,000. I think I am making a bit of progress, though somedays one wonders. It has encouraged a bit more of the daily diarrhea, from 8 times or so to 12, so hope tomorrow will be manageable. We have managed to do 38 cases, I had some help from Mike working with me every day, as well as Dr. Adult, who had night call, slept for a bit and came up to help us, so we could run two rooms to keep things flowing. We had a number of hysterectomies, a couple with concrete scarring inside so I sweat a ton in those cases. By God’s grace, all went well and we finished the week in decent shape. Mike has enjoyed the abundance of pathology in Haiti, from our Prune Belly Syndrome to the large variety of masses, hernias and pelvic pathology. He spent the whole week working with me, reminiscent of our med school and residency days (he became an internist and I a surgeon, but he has good hands). Plus, he has kept my feet to the fire concerning my struggling health.

The team also put up a bunch of shelving and helped Duane work at supporting an electrical pole that took a major slant with the last windstorm/hurricane winds. He asked if we should call the government electrical company, they might come out in 6 months and maybe get it fixed in a year and I fear it would fall and end our generator power too. So, he and the guys got it supported and stable, thankfully. Jean Eddy went to Port to get an alternator for the truck, he left at 5 am on the bus, just got into Port (at the Fish Market for those who remember the sights and smells) and had to walk all the way to the next taxi stop as the rioters stopped the bus and also the taxis weren’t running. He ended up getting to the Kia sales department, only to find out I hadn’t given him enough money. It has been a while since I bought an alternator, but I asked him how much he thought it would cost, and he thought $300 US would be enough. I gave him $500 to be sure, it was $625 US!!!. Fortunately, he could borrow the $125 from a kind friend and will return it Saturday. However, he feels, and Duane and I agree, that we need to leave early on Saturday to get through the road blocks and riots, even though our plane doesn’t leave til 3:30 and the counter doesn’t open til 11 am and we will be there at 5 am, Lord Willing. He is going to take another missionary from Germany home, so hopefully they can get through the grief. Pray for us all, we will sit on the floor, on our suitcases (full of stuff for Olga and the center) and I will take along plenty of the essentials of life and hope the toilets at least will receive waste, even if they don’t have running water to flush, etc. It may be a long day for all concerned as we wait for the things to open. I have never flown Delta before, but hope that things will work out. Certainly their accommodations in the Port au Prince airport don’t sound as good as American but have not flown anything but American for the 150 trips I have made except once Spirit (that was enough). It is not their fault, but it will be a while so hope we all do well in the waiting game. We hope to get home not too much after midnight?

So, thanks so much for your encouragement and prayers as we head home again from serving Him in Haiti.

In His Service,

Bill, Duane, Jake, Josh, Mike and Nicolas

The Donkey and Friends are Hot and Happy in Haiti

Hi All:
We appreciate all the prayers and support we have received on this trip. As we said, American, understandably, cancelled all our flights, but Delta graciously took us in and, though the plane was full, they told us they would swing out into the Atlantic and give Irma a wide berth. They did exactly that and we arrived in Port only a bit late but in good spirits. We piled ourselves and our baggage in the Kia and took off. A bit into the trip, Jean Eddy told me that he thought I needed to buy a new battery as he had trouble starting the truck at the airport!! Yikes. About half way home, it became evident that we were living on borrowed time, especially as it got darker and we were trying to not run the battery down further. A bit short of the 3/4 point, the truck died altogether and we were stuck on the side of the road. We tried calling but Dr. Moise was not available for a bit and he doesn’t have a vehicle. We did the usual Haitian flares, taking tree branches and spacing them along the road to warn approaching traffic of our misery. Duane tried all his magic tricks to get the truck going, though was hampered with not many tools, no spare battery and darkness.

By God’s grace, we finally were able to contact Dr. Moise, who was able to borrow a car from one of the pastors and his brother in law went with him, carrying the battery to the second generator (the first of course was running). What a welcome sight to see these two brothers and we were soon on our way again to the hospital, again arriving a bit later than expected but thanking the Lord for His provision, as not much is open at night in Haiti and especially not on a Saturday night. Dr. Moise’s sister (the wife of the gentleman who drove the truck) usually makes us a huge meal of beans and rice, fried fish and some vegetables. We always eat a bit but the 4 men from Bible Believers Church in Lowell ate like they hadn’t had a meal in a week. Their enthusiasm is contagious. They went to the Sunday School program and then the Wrays and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They have worked like slaves (of course, they have the Egyptian Taskmaster in Duane) and have finished the roof on the house they are doing.

Duane has his hands full of tasks, 2 of the 4 water tanks on the roof are leaking, one has a crack and spurts water. We don’t always understand Brenel, we would have expected him to let us know this on Monday morning, but not ’til tonight. One never knows the mind of the Haitians. My OR girls told me today they only had 2 months of spinal and Ketamine left, again, it takes about 5 months to get a new order from Amsterdam. Sometimes the bald spot on my head slowly grows. The government also decided, that we need to increase the baseline salaries about 200%, due to the runaway inflation after Hurricane Matthew, but where do the funds come from to do it? Surgery has been decent, I am a bit feeble, running a low grade temp despite increasing my Levaquin to 1000 and taking Tylenol each 4 hr. Am sleeping 10 – 11 hours a night, so appreciate prayer for God’s healing of my infection. Am thankful that I am able to work, albeit a bit less than I would like.

So, we are plugging along well, me a little less than the others, but the boat is floating and we are thankful. We are hoping that Jean Eddy comes back from Port au Prince tonight with the alternator, as none available in Cayes. We got a new battery and tire, but the problem seems more serious to my talented buddy, Duane. He never ceases to amaze me with what he can do.

Thank you so much for prayer for us all, including the stumbling Haitian Donkey as we try to serve HIm faithfully in Haiti.

In His Service,

Bill, Duane, Jake, Joshua, Mike and Nicolas

Hurricane Irma

Hi All:
Just a quick request for prayer for God’s wisdom as to how, if at all, to proceed with the possibility of Hurricane Irma gearing up to cause havoc also. The poor people of Texas et al are still recovering from the aftermath of Harvey and Irma peeks around the corner with the possibility of even more force and destruction. American Airlines states that they suggest alternative paths if that is possible as both Haiti and Florida are threatened by the upcoming storm. However, they do underline that we are responsible to be there unless they cancel the flights. Yikes.

Since we are 9 on this team and that includes Ed Bos with a bunch of lab equipment to replace our “outdated” lab tools, it is harder to flip around and try to find new flights, plus there is so much up in the air. So, we are asking that you join us in prayer for God’s wisdom and direction for us all, so that we are neither foolish and take unneeded risks or waste a good opportunity to serve Him there in Haiti next week. As I have to fly straight through with my TPN (so that it doesn’t warm up and become worthless) this complicates the decision somewhat as getting stuck somewhere means that the expensive “lunch” that keeps me going and is such a lifesaver will be wasted.

As always, we trust that our Lord who knows the end from the beginning has a perfect plan for the situation, just pray that we, his imperfect servants, will ascertain His will and follow it for His glory.

Will keep you apprised of changes as they develop.

In His Service,

Aaron, Bill, Caleb, Duane, Ed, Jake, Joshua, Mike and Nick