Up and Running

Dear family and friends,

We’re thankful we had a successful week of camp with a group from Missouri last week. We really appreciated Pastor Randy coming and baptizing Katie.

The children from the Renault Sunday School program had a great time at camp and we were especially thankful for the gym during tropical storm Earl.

It’s been great to have our son Tim with us for 3 weeks during his break from physical therapy school in BC.

While here, Tim has designed a new website for us. We’re excited to share the newly completed Camp Mahanaim website with you!

Thanks for your continued prayers and support.

Bye for now,

Love Rod, Deb, Tim, and Katie

The Haitian Donkey Makes Some Progress

Hi All:

The last time, I told you I was enjoying eating and drinking as, by the grace of God, the intestinal fistula (bowel leak) was one of the 60% that healed on their own, ie without surgery. I have put on a few pounds, will likely not put on more as the mesh does not seem to like being stretched much, it becomes a bit tight and tender, so will slowly switch getting my food and fluids from IV sources through my port to oral supply. It is amazing how much fun it continues to be to eat and drink again. Also, with this, I can take in iron orally and my hemoglobin is creeping up. This seems to increase my endurance tolerance accordingly, so the donkey can carry his normal load of work and other burdens as he should and wants to.

Although I grew out the dreaded MRSA from my wound and am allergic to the sulfa we like to treat it, it has slowly healed and my cultures allow me to use another antibiotic to control the redness and mild inflammation that persists, as well as some local applications of infection control. This allowed me to have my first vaccine injection on the 1st of August at Pittsburgh. It went well, the 6 inch needle they use was a bit intimidating, but the PA found a couple lymph nodes in my groin on ultrasound, then came in at an angle towards them with that needle, and, using the ultrasound probe to guide her, speared (or as she put it, harpooned) the nodes and injected half of the vaccine in them. The rest went under my skin of my thigh and the procedure was done for this month. Karen and I will return on the 28th to do that again, then have 3 more chemotherapy agents administered the rest of the week for 3 more weekly cycles separated by 4 weeks each time. Will have to stay in Pittsburgh for this as the treatment is an experimental study and thus closely controlled.  Am praying that this will give me more length of life and that I will use it properly for His glory no matter how long it is.

Haiti continues to be a great prayer concern. As many of you may know, the presidential elections have been a major problem, the ones last October were felt to be invalid and President Martelly departed on time in February. After that, the interim president took over for 3 months, but seems to be fairly authoritarian and unwilling to give up his powers at the end of the time allowed. He also has not been very kindly disposed to the medical system’s breakdown as the employees, from the staff doctors to the residents, nurses and other staff have all gone on strike to protest the deplorable conditions of caring for the poor patients in the socialized medical system (no water or electricity a fair amount of time, doing surgery with the light of their cell phones according to the Miami Herald article). It stated that there are like 20 governmental hospitals on strike now since early spring. As in all socialized systems, there appears to be a 2 layer system, so that those who have finances can get care for a price, but those who don’t just suffer and may just die. There have been a number of rather liberal media descriptions of the situation that underline the sadness of the system’s malfunction. Again, somewhat like in the US, the politicians who could resolve the difficulty are not affected as they have their own medical care available, so less motivated to do things correctly for the sick and suffering. Dr. William would dearly love to get back into his training, but there doesn’t seem to be any reasonable solution on the horizon in the near future. Pray for wisdom and resolution soon as God wills as Dr. William is getting discouraged. Being away from his family and not making progress towards the goal of becoming a legal surgeon is frustrating.

The hospital is functioning well, thanks to the volunteers who come monthly to both help with surgery and maintenance (equally needful and appreciated). I keep in contact with Dr. Moise and he seems to be doing his best to carry on and keep the hospital afloat. Pray for wisdom and strength for him also, that he will not “be weary in well doing.” The chaplains continue to be the bright spots on the horizon, as they are both past retirement age but seem most diligent in reaching out to the patients with the Great News of salvation through Jesus Christ, a Light that can pierce even the thickest darkness. Dan, Duane, Theresa and a goodly number of the Haiti Team have been slaving away in the heat to get the supplies gathered and prepared for loading and shipping a 40 foot container next Tuesday. Pray for safety for the wonderful workers and the arrival of the container at the hospital soon and safely.

Again, the Donkey has stumbled on longer than he planned, but wants to keep you up to date on all the affairs related to him and the ministry in Haiti.

In HIs Service,

Bill, Karen, Rachel, James and Jenn Ten Haaf and the Haiti Crew

The Donkey’s Future Plans

Hi All:
Just wanted to update you on Haiti and the Haitian Donkey’s plans:

We received word that I will get the first vaccine injection on August 1, apparently just that on that day, then returning to Pittsburg on the 28th to get the vaccine on Monday, followed by Interferon injections on Tuesday through Thursday (noted to give you a fair amount of side effects and “feel like a Mack Truck ran over you,” is what some recipients have commented). I also will have another medication with that on Tuesday through Thursday and then another chemotherapy medication on Friday (not sure if the other two will be given also on Friday, guess we will find out). Hopefully we will tolerate the treatments well.  Many of my patients read all the side effects of their meds and fear they will get them, most people don’t get all the side effects or even any, I always tell them that I don’t read the chemotherapy pages of side effects, it would only scare me and I have really no option, so just go for it and hope and pray for the best. We will repeat the cycle 3 more times a month apart, all done at the University of Pittsburgh as it is a controlled study, ie not approved for normal treatment yet, studying the effects and side effects, so the Donkey doubles as a lab rat/guinea pig?.

The drainage from my tube in my belly has dribbled down to next to nothing, so Karen pulled my drain last week on the approval of Dr. De Cook. I still have a wound infection now starting to drain again from the top of my incision, praying that will clear up soon as allergic to the antibiotic preferred for treatment. Will try to culture it again tomorrow in the clinic. The eating and drinking is a pure joy, though have to limit to 3 swallows of water (don’t do much else yet) and then 3 bites of food and wait 30 minutes to repeat the cycle.  Eating with others can be a problem, as I forget to watch the clock and love to eat (EVERYTHING tastes most wonderful) so about 5 to 10 minutes later get the cramps, sweats and feel nasty if the food police do not help me control my appetite. That stimulates my remembering part of my brain to suppress the forgetting part for the next while at least. I am adjusting my bile salt resin ingestion to hopefully control my diarrhea over the next few weeks. That also is still a work in progress requiring much prayer for wisdom.

Dr. Jim Webb, Dan Boerman and Mark Snyder went to Haiti yesterday, planning on meeting in Ft. Lauderdale and getting to Port au Prince at 3 pm to get to the hospital that evening. Unfortunately, Dan and Mark’s plane in GR broke down and they missed the flights. Dr. William called me last night as Jean Eddy only found Dr. Jim and was wondering where the rest were (I had sent down emails, but communication is difficult at best down there). Pray that they will be able to get things done efficiently this week and that Dr. Webb’s arthritic hip will not give him too much grief as they do the required surgeries. I have not heard much more about the political situation there, but pray that that also will be resolved soon as well as the problems at the government hospitals and that Dr. William could resume his residency work soon.

In His Service,

Bill, Karen, Rachel, James and Jenn Ten Haaf

 

Food at Last!

Hi All:

With the US Independence Day just around the corner, I am celebrating the ability to return to a somewhat normal eating style.  Anyone who has been around me for long knows that I normally love to eat almost anything edible and a goodly quantity of it. So, since my last meal was April 9, 2016, it has been a long fast, but the end is in sight. As you know, this surgery was tougher than the first two, partially because they took the midsection of my belly wall out and replaced it with mesh, which, incidentally is working fairly well at holding my insides inside. However, a couple weeks after surgery, I sprung a leak in my incision that clearly demonstrated, on incision and drainage by Dr. Dan De Cook, to contain the same yellow intestinal contents that I would deposit in the toilet, a discouraging sign that I had a hole in my intestines. So, I stopped all oral intake except for 2 sips of water twice daily with my antibiotic, heart rate pill (only needed after the surgeries, hopefully can wean off again soon) and acid reducer pills, as nothing in my stomach led to non buffered acid running freely in my GI system and causing considerable heartburn, etc.

Dan left a drain in my abdominal wall which has worked well until recently, when I think my daily irrigations may be doing more harm than good as I developed another wound infection early this week ON the high power antibiotic we started me on due to the cultures of the drainage. It looks like Strep or Staph, but I think I am allergic to Sulfa, which would be the treatment of choice for MRSA. By the grace of God, the wound infection seems to be slowly responding to Keflex, which I appear not to be allergic to. I was taking both drugs about 6 years ago when I came back from Haiti with a very nasty leg infection from a presumed insect bite there that took months to heal. Karen threatened to not allow me to go back there as she feared I might lose my leg, so I hit it hard with both meds, but after a week had a nasty rash, so dropped both drugs and went to Levaquin and it healed over about 9 months, though I still have a reminder on the back of my leg of the event. I had not needed to take either drug since until now, so thankful that it seems to be responding on the Keflex alone.

About 3 1/2 weeks ago, I obtained a CT scan of my abdomen right before visiting Dr. Bartlett  on the 6th of June and getting my leukapheresis done. He felt the outside fluid collection/abscess was shrinking with the drain Dan put in it, the inside one maybe some. So we started on sips of clear liquids, a very great blessing, for 3 weeks and then repeated the scan last Friday to see if the collection was enlarging. The intrabdominal one (the most troublesome one) does not seem that it is enlarging with the fluids, in fact, Dan feels it is pretty much gone, a real answer to prayer and he now encourages me to increase my oral intake but “watch that old drain for green peas or beans to come out, not a good sign.” I am happy to oblige (did break the rules with tiny bites of Norwegian at a Bierema wedding 2 weeks ago, one only gets those treats at Christmas and special occasions) and will rejoice in the fact that I am able to eat some again. Once that smooths out, will work on reducing the number of bathroom trips to less than the dozen plus daily, some with little warning using Metamucil and other agents. I do thank the Lord for the provision of the TPN, which has kept me alive through this prolonged inability to take in food or fluids orally. The wonders of modern medicine are especially apparent to me, having spent so much of my professional life overseas, where we have no such provisions/capacities.

Speaking of Haiti, please continue to pray for both the team at the hospital, the government and governmental hospital system. For the first, Dr. Jim Webb, who has considerable hip pain awaiting his hip replacement in August or so this year, has most graciously agreed to cover June and July for me, and went down the week of the 18th to cover the surgical needs, along with Tom Failing and Dave Weener from BCBC, who worked on the endless job of hospital maintenance. The trip was productive on all fronts, for which we are thankful. However, they, like Dr  Luke and company the month before, had to leave early to avoid travel during the night time as per the curfew imposed by the American Embassy. The interim president’s 3 month term has expired without much change (not sure he intends to do all that much and seems quite reluctant to relinquish his position), so there is a fair amount of unrest. All the government hospitals (socialized medicine is alive, not quite sure about the well part of that phrase, in Haiti) have the doctors on strike due to the conditions at the hospital, no running water, etc, and the president is threatening to punish the doctors by pulling their licenses rather than fixing the situation. So, it appears that there is no end in sight for the near future and Dr. William’s training is on indefinite hold. Pray that this will be resolved soon for him as he is one hard worker and is very frustrated at spinning his wheels. There was a lengthy article on line from the Miami Herald today, maybe some pressure will be put on the proper authorities to return to an improved function soon? One doesn’t dare hold his breath too long, though.

Sorry, again I tend to ramble on a bit at length, but praising the Lord for my health progress and praying for the future for both my therapy and the situation in Haiti. Thanks for your love, concern, prayers and other encouragements.

In His Service,

Bill, Karen, Rachel, James and Jenn Ten Haaf

Small Progress for the Plodding Donkey

Hi All:

Karen, Rachel and I drove down to Pittsburgh last weekend and met with Dr. Bartlett and had the leukapheresis done on Monday. Several hours of the trip going down was at about 25 mph as it was pelting rain and half the vehicles were pulled off, the rest of us going very slowly with flashers on so we could see each other a teeny bit better, Rachel did that driving as controlling the GI tract and driving in that weather is not a lot of fun at this stage of the game. The internal jugular tube they put in so they can exchange 8.5 quarts in 90 minutes was a literal pain in the neck to insert and not much better to tolerate, but thankful that phase of my life is over. They obtained the precious 83 ml of white cells and the incubation process will begin to try to create a vaccine to hopefully slow down the growth of the cancer.

Both Dr. Bartlett and Dr. De Cook are a bit encouraged that the outer pocket (above my belly muscles and the sheet of mesh) is draining less and seems smaller on the repeat CT scan, though the one inside my belly is more confusing. There must be a connection to the outside one and the fistula must hook to the inside one, but how is another issue. So, for 3 days now, both agree that I can do sips of clear liquids and will continue that for another 2 weeks, repeat the CT scan and see if the inside pocket is enlarging with the liquids, a bad sign that the fistula is still open. What to do then is even more unclear, but pray that it is getting smaller and resolving. I love water, but it tastes extra special now, even in the small sips to wet the tongue and the esophagus.

As soon as the oral intake improves a bit (assuming that it will, ie the fistula is not misbehaving), I will start on my oral iron and see if I can get my anemia improved and thus get more stamina. I tried a shot of iron, admittedly I don’t have a bunch of padding, but it was mighty sore for 3 nights, so hoping I can use the oral route for more of my meds soon. Of course, a meal, even a small one, would be great, as it has been April 9 since I had my “last meal.”

Continue to pray for especially Dr. William. He would like the resident’s strike to end and get back to the training, despite the deplorable conditions, which are not likely to change in Haiti, but, so far, it is not happening and the interim president seems very harsh towards their efforts. Undoubtedly, if he needed care, he would fly to the US and get quality care there, so doesn’t seem as concerned about what the rank and file have to endure, probably a bit like our politicians, I suppose. Next weekend, Dr. Jim Webb will do surgery for a week with Tom Failing and Dave Weener from Byron Bible doing repairs, an endless job at CSL, it seems. Jim will return (thanks so much, sir) in July with Dan Boerman to repeat the cycle and keep that part of the hospital going in my absence. Our new chaplains seem to be a ball of fire, despite both being retired, for which I thank the Lord and I need to keep up with them as they hand out tracts, make contacts with patients and follow up with them. So, trying to find bulk volumes of French and Creole tracts as well as evangelistic DVDs for Jean Eddy and them to work with. We also have shipped down another skid of food packets, they enjoy giving that to the poor patients and it opens them up to spiritual discussions, of course, another tool to help soften hearts steeped in a dead religion and voodoo. It is hard for me to not be there, so pray that the Lord would heal my body and allow me to rejoin my brothers and sisters laboring there for Him soon.

In His Service,

Bill, Karen, Rachel, James and Jenn Ten Haaf