The Haitian Donkey Update

Hi All:
I am sitting in the oncology department getting my infusion of goods and thought I would bring things up to date on a couple fronts. I finished my IV antibiotic course 2 days ago, so they could give the next treatment now, as it is experimental and they don’t want any complicating issues, ie extra meds on board, etc. This is treatment # 9, they raise the dose each time until # 10, not sure what, if anything, happens after that. I will get a repeat CT scan again on October 8 and will see if the cancer is progressing or not and I guess that will impact what happens next.

I had my line changed over a wire (so that I won’t lose the last remaining site in my upper body, not as desirable as just pulling it, leaving it out for 2 days and replacing it, but didn’t want to take the chance it would not be able to be put back in) and have finished the antibiotic course after that to cover the critter growing on the line. I am hoping that I can eat a bit more now as still seem to have nausea pretty regularly, not sure who is the culprit but the weight slowly dwindles with it. Am continuously thankful for space heaters, a heated jacket (battery powered, what a “cool” thing) and other aids to staying warm when not in my Haitian homeland. I think the strength is returning some, have been able to continue working pretty much normally in the interim, as hate sitting home feeling poorly, at least seeing and caring for patients takes one’s mind off his own situation. So, hoping to get back into the rotation for Haiti next month, as will have a bit of a backlog of patients to take care of.

I thought I would just comment on a couple other issues that are of interest to me and hopefully to you also. First, our statistics for last year included:

571        Surgeries

62,924     Outpatient consultations

2,028      Hospitalized Patients

19,844     Laboratory evaluations done

276      Deliveries done

Plus a few hundred xrays and about that many ultrasound evaluations each month, mostly on our own patients but we also have patients being sent from elsewhere for testing.

However, I am also very thankful that we have been able to have our evangelization department functioning, to accomplish our goal that each patient, and often their caretakers or family members, receive a clear presentation of the Gospel of Christ Jesus as their only hope for eternal security. We show the Jesus film and other evangelistic films, I make it a point to speak to each surgical patient each day and give them a different tract and encourage them to consider not only their physical/medical health but also their more important spiritual health. We are happy that our two chaplains, Pastor Zidor and Pastor Juste, faithfully follow up on our patients, sharing more in depth teaching and encouragement to consider the claims of Christ on their lives and help them follow up with Bible based churches in their home area, contacting pastors to introduce them, giving them a letter of introduction to the church/pastor and also calling them, if possible, to see how they are progressing and if they would like further information. They have kept track of the numbers of people they have counseled and tracts they have distributed and it is encouraging to see their hard work for His glory.

So, as we bounce back from this major health speed bump and anticipate going in mid October again with Duane, Ruth, Tabitha and Zella, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for your prayers, support and encouragement for our efforts to serve our Lord at Centre de Sante Lumiere. Continue to pray for especially Dr. William as he now has a year where he will be shipped here and there to “complete areas where the resident needs training.” He is presently at the burn center at Doctors Without Borders for September and October. We don’t know the rest of the plans yet, but need wisdom and encouragement for him as he sort of has to go where he is assigned.

In His Service,

Bill, Karen, Rachel, James and Jenn Ten Haaf

September News

Dear Family and Friends; 

Here in Southern Haiti we are experiencing the heat wave of the year with clear blue skies and there is no wind, which is unusual for us. We are thankful that no hurricanes or big storms have passed our way so far this year.    

Deb and Katie took the Angels volleyball team to the beach over the summer break. A couple of the girls have departed and gone to play volleyball in Port au Prince, but we are thankful for a faithful group of Angels who continue on.
We recently hosted this wedding in the Camp Mahanaim yard and it was very beautiful. There are many requests, but few wedding parties who agree to the No alcohol rule in the yard.
Last weekend we held our big “Back to School” volleyball tournament which was a lot of fun and a huge success. It’s a unique tournament because girls and guys play together at a very competitive level. 
When our good friend Marv Owen passed away, a scholarship was set up to help children and young people in Haiti pay for school, and this year we had the privilege to administer over $4,000 in scholarship funds which greatly helped many people with school and college fees. 
The Renault Sunday school has gone well over the summer. We are really thankful for the help of the monitors who are young men who have grown up attending the Sunday school and now are great helpers. There are seven of them and their names are (from left to right) Berlin, Junior, Joseph, Andy, Stanley, Watson and Emile. We would appreciate your prayers for these young guys as they truly are trying to live for God and learn more from the Bible. 
The girl standing beside Katie is Cassan. We can’t be sure of Cassan’s age, but we know that she is very close in age to Katie. Cassan has been in the Sunday school for about 10 years and we believe that she is now 13 or 14 years old. Sometimes when a young child is severely malnourished, they do not grow. 
Thank you so much for your support, prayers, encouragement and emails.      We appreciate your partnership in ministry.

bye for now,

Love Rod, Deb and Katie 

The Haitian Donkey leaves the Dutch Donkey by himself

Hi All:

This will just be a note to let you know that I have been unable to go to Haiti due to unforeseen trouble with an intestinal blockage. Ever since my 2nd 15 hr marathon surgery and more so since the 3rd one, I have been very careful what and how much I eat. As you know, since coming back from Haiti the last trip, I have struggled with an infection, something I am prone to as I have sugar loaded fluids going in my central line to give me enough nourishment to survive for now almost 3 years, for which I am very thankful, as I would likely not be alive without it. The first IV antibiotic “should” have worked, according to the lab, but didn’t, so after 6 days without improvement, my infectious disease doctor switched to another for 2 weeks. I finished it on Thursday, but had my central line removed and changed over a wire after 5 days on the med and it grew another funny bug, so now am on a 3rd IV antibiotic. As my weight has been going down, I had increased the calorie load in my IVs but the stumbling Haitian Donkey has been struggling to keep going at times.

The plan was for Evert Bek (the AC, electronics repair man from Lowell who has dubbed himself the “Dutch Donkey,” after 5 trips to Haiti with me (he was born in the Netherlands 2 months before me but came to the US 20 plus years later than I, so I get to learn better Dutch when we are together) and I to leave this morning. I have not been able to eat much this last week and yesterday the obstruction set in during the evening and intensified all night to the point that I was vomiting from 12 am to 5 am. Karen and I decided that it would not be fair to saddle the Dutch Donkey with such a troublesome travelling partner at 4 am, when I was supposed to take off for the airport. Plus, we had no idea when this might end and wouldn’t want to get set off the plane enroute and be worse off. So, we made the difficult decision to not go at this point. I cannot go alone as need a second person’s carryon to take the rest of my TPN, so can’t just jump on a later plane and head south. All Plans B, C, etc are not tenable, so will not be able to do surgery this week there and am sorry to disappoint all the hurting people we, by God’s grace, would have been able to help.

So, am carefully sipping water and praying I can get my strength back in the days to come. Will likely have a lighter schedule at work as wasn’t planning on being there, so will do my best to overcome this infection, fatten up a bit and continue to serve Him here instead of in Haiti.

In His Strength and Service,

Bill and The Dutch Donkey

Another request for prayer for God’s wisdom and direction of the stumbling Haitian Donkey

Hi All:
Several weeks ago, Tom Failing and I came home from Haiti after a good trip, just punctuated by an episode of developing a severe neck strain at the end that has proven to be as stubborn as the Haitian Donkey himself at going away quietly. Thanks to the ministrations of several of my colleagues, it is very much improved and I am looking forward to the day it is gone for good. It has slowed me down, driving is difficult as the whole body has to turn at the waist, also a bit tough to examine patients, plus even the weight of my ever present “lunch back pack” on my shoulders causes pain, when it never really has in the 3 years we have been pretty much inseparable. Have not slept in bed yet, just in the recliner, but hopefully soon that will change.

The next week, I underwent the 8th session of immunotherapy. As they increase the dose each time, it makes me feel a bit fatigued, achy everywhere and nausea, so that added to the fun for the week. However, that Friday, I spiked a temperature of 103 plus so really could not blame that on the above two situations and have a central line infection again. It is Staph hemolyticus, a stubborn bug that is resistant to most antibiotics. On the advice of my PCP, I started on a newish, potent antibiotic, but after 5 days, progress was mighty slow, even for a Haitian Donkey pace. Repeat cultures came back this morning and, after consultation with my infectious disease friend, I have switched again and we are planning on changing my central line over a wire early next week. Not optimal situations, but I don’t have a lot of options open, so would greatly appreciate prayer that the Great Physician would intervene on our behalf and allow me to get back on my feet and work properly.

I am very thankful that Duane and Dr. Jim Webb are in Haiti holding down the fort (as well as keeping our other issues in line). I am scheduled to go on 8th of September with Evert and need to get my strength up, plus am trying to organize a short vacation for Dr. Moise in the interim, as he has been working hard at keeping the hospital going and we all feel he would benefit from a break for a couple weeks.

So, would appreciate extra prayer for wisdom in doing what the Lord would have me to do in the next few days, as well as those doctors trying to keep the stumbling Haitian Donkey on his wobbly feet. I also am scheduled to undergo session #9 of immunotherapy Monday, though doubt they will be able to do that at least this soon. As always, we appreciate your encouragement, prayer and support in the difficult situations we face as we serve Him here and in Haiti.

Bill, Karen, Rachel, James and Jenn Ten Haaf

The Haitian donkey brings Haitian weather back home, helping with aches and pains

Hi All:
We finished out the week well, doing all the cases that came our way and finished off a few more on early Friday morning. As we were finishing, a lady came in, with arrested labor with her baby in distress. We gave it a try as she had delivered 2 children already normally and we figured the space was adequate for the little one to pass on out. I left the nurses and Dr. Moise to do this while I finished packing my carry ons, cleaned up the room (I try to leave all spic and span to reduce the influx of cockroaches that make the place their home in our absence) and loaded the truck. We only had the kitchen to wipe down and we would be on our way when Dr. Moise came to suggest that the baby would not be able to find it’s way out and wanted to do a C section. We did it, very thankful that we made the decision as the uterus was paper thin and the baby in major distress.  We were able to finally get the little one breathing on it’s own, repair the lady and take off for Port.

You notice that I didn’t mention the gender of the little one. Everyone is amazed that I didn’t notice but all I ever care about is keeping the mom healthy and having a healthy baby, whether it is a boy or a girl seems like the last thing on my list (and I get a lot of ribbing over this). My priorities seem a bit different than others in that department, for which I get a goodly amount of grief. However, the little one was really wedged in the pelvis and we were covered with sweat trying to get him or her out of the belly alive. I woke up the next morning with a significant strain of my neck, bouncing back home on the plane and in the airports didn’t do a lot to make it better and it still gives me some grief. I have had a couple of physical therapy treatments by my good friend, Todd Wehrmeyer, and they have helped, but am ready to have those aches and pains go, especially as I get another immunotherapy treatment tomorrow and it tends to cause aches and pains all by itself, especially as they up the dose each time I visit them.  Ibuprofen does a lot more to help me feel better, but that little remnant of stomach I have left does not tolerate it and Tylenol is like sending a child to do an adult’s job, makes me feel better but the patient, not so much.

Dr. Bartlett’s PA, Heather, called me 3 days ago and said that they were happy that the cancer progress seems to be slowed down to maybe stable and want me to continue the treatment as long as possible/tolerable. So, will submit to it tomorrow and appreciate your prayers that it will continue to kill cancer cells instead of me and, Lord Willing, prolong my life and productivity. My partner has been on vacation, so the office has been a bit of a rat race, especially as my neck is still stiffer than it should be.

I had a nice visit with Dr. William on Friday night as he came to see us on our way out. I was encouraged as he seems to be more perky, likely because he can “see the light at the end of the tunnel” and the second 2 years are less punishing than the first two years, as the lower two years do all sorts of “grunt work” to keep patients happy until the older doctors can do the surgery. A bit different, maybe more than a bit, than what we do here in the US. We talked a bit about his plans for next year, they ship them off hither and yon to round out their training, in theory, a good idea, we will just leave it at that. Dan, Duane and the wonderful team of Haiti USA members loaded a 40 foot container with stuff for the hospital as well as Rod and Debbie Wray on the 30th, so that is underway, thankfully. Since Karen and I and our family members always did this the years we were in Africa, we greatly appreciate the number of folks who help out in this area.

So, as this has been written in a couple segments as I have time between patient duties, will send this off and update you a bit later on some of the information of what we have done at CSL Haiti in the last year, etc.  As always, thank you so very much for your help and encouragement.

In His Service,

Tom and Bill