Not even sure if a donkey, let alone a scrawny Haitian donkey, can trot, as his more elegant relative, the horse does, but if he can, we feel like that is happening, for which we praise the Lord. As we mentioned the last time, I am under a strict regulations from Karen that I have to get 10 pounds on my skinny frame before I can return to Haiti and we applied the proverbial feedbag with the addition of three nighttime feedings to help with the number of daily meals, as trying to increase the size of them only produces our not so happy “dumping syndrome.” We had a couple episodes of this over the Fourth of July holiday, as Jenn and Karen combined to make some “smoothies” which went over big with most of the family and I decided to try one in the evening, when could recuperate in my chair if the tasty treat proved a bit much for the system. It reinforced the idea that such calorie boosters like Ensure and Boost will remain off the diet for the rest of my life, as more than 1 ounce of them bring immediate cramps, sweats and a definite ill feeling. As it was the holiday spirit season, I even tried a small “moose tracks” ice cream dose, as it has been over a year since I tasted ice cream, but I knew beforehand that would not fly. It tasted good enough to make the grief which followed worthwhile, though won’t do that too often.
However, the weight has been slowly creeping up. I have to have the pounds on board for 5 days in a row before it goes on the official record book towards the return to Haiti, but I am up to 5 pounds for sure, working on the 6th at present. The best part of the news is that Dr. Dan De Cook, my friend and surgical colleague, agreed to do my repeat hernia surgery July 1 and that has really made a big difference in what I can eat, how much pain meds I have to take (have cut to half the preop dose already) and how active I can be, though I have to remain obedient to not lifting and straining as much, as certainly do not want a three peat surgery, two is enough and I have mesh in there. The surgery at Holland Hospital went well, though he found a fair amount of not so great looking tissue to remove, but repaired it the same way we used to do in the US (and what I still do in Haiti), then threw a mesh over it all for good measure and sent me back home. Almost immediately, my nausea has diminished greatly, the pain from the new incision is there but the “ball and chain effect” of the dead tissue is gone and this is much more bearable, knowing the healing process has begun in earnest.
As my partner, Dr. Lugthart, had vacation planned starting the 7th of July, I was able to work full time that week and put in almost 60 hours in the office and Sunset Manor, so thankful for the good recovery.
As many of you know, the sad news of last week was that our “partner” in the building industry, Lamar Construction of Zeeland, MI, went out of business. Thanks to our contacts there through Duane Ver Kaik, they have helped us tremendously with supplies for the hospital building and repairs of surrounding structures, etc. We have been very blessed by their help over the last many years, including sending a team out to build the hospital chapel last year (2013) and the gym for the camp the Wrays have up the road in 2014. As we have made many friends there, it was doubly sad to think of all them (among the 280 or so employees who lost their jobs) now having to find new ways to support themselves and their families in our less than robust economy.
In my personal devotions, I have just finished rereading Nehemiah, where he sets such an incredible example of how to do God’s work in His way for His glory and it keeps me asking Him how to proceed with the surgical options for our hospital and doctors in our attempts to negotiate through the maze of political posturing that exists in attempting to accomplish something of a legal nature in Haiti. Nehemiah’s finishing the wall of Jerusalem in 52 days despite opposition from the neighbors and other government officials makes me jealous. At present, it appears that one first must become a university hospital to be eligible to train residents and then one can apply to have a residency program, ie there is no such thing as community residency programs like we have in the US. So, trying to see if maybe our sister hospital, Bonne Fin, can become one and we then can combine forces to complete the eligibility process. Needless to say, I need a lot of God directed wisdom and patience to navigate this process without making mistakes as this is a new procedure in a country that is able to produce more red tape than I can wiggle through without supernatural help.
My second partner is negotiating trying to get his kidney stone dislodged, then blasted in the hopes of getting this nagging pain out of his system in the next few weeks, so I have pretty much resigned myself to not being able to go to Haiti in July (as we are only 3 in the practice and only one can leave at a time, understandably), plus my lack of spare tissue growth has prevented that possibility. I am again very thankful that Dr. Jim Webb has graciously agreed again to fill in the gap in surgical coverage for the month of July and will leave the 26th of the month for a week of work with the crew down there. Dan Boerman and I are aiming for the 16th through the 23rd of August and then I plan to go the 27th of September through October 4 with Duane Ver Kaik (and Ruth, I think), as well as my medical school classmate/partner, Mike Langdon and his nurse son, Josh, a physical therapist, Jenn Wichterman and her parents, who will work with Duane and Ruth on repair projects, etc while the rest of us (four medical and four repairers of the gaps)concentrate on medical and financial issues. Those plans are not yet written in stone, though starting to sort out fairly well if the Lord continues to give us all green lights in the way of health, time off work, finances, etc. Part of my goals for both weeks include making some headway on the political process involved with the possible surgical residency program.
So, once again, you get a bit of a rough draft form update, but wanted to let you all know what has transpired and hopefully will in the near future as we greatly appreciate your prayers for wisdom in our efforts to serve Him in Haiti.
In His Service,
Bill, Karen, Rachel, James and Jenn