The Haitian Donkey Has A Short Update

Hi All:

Last time, I discussed that I would get 3 units of blood and have a stomach tube put in for a blow hole if the pressure builds up.  I got the blood, but the CT scan showed that my tiny stomach remnant was stuck to the posterior abdomen and thus not accessible.  After all my extensive surgeries, the tons of scar tissue would make an open procedure quite risky and I could have more grief, so we did this with needles and dilators under fluoroscopy.  There was a dilated loop of small bowel in front of it, so they placed a smaller tube into this, hoping it was not too far downstream.  It is small in diameter but has provided a fair amount of pressure relief.  I close it when I take medicines, etc for a bit, though have stopped any oral intake except maybe about 3 glasses of water each day and a few spoonfuls of blenderized whatever the kids are having.  This seems to have worked pretty well and I am thankful that I have less vomiting.  I still have a considerable amount of heartburn, so sleep in the upright recliner a lot to limit that. 

I now have an immobilizer for my gimpy left leg.  I cannot lift it up off the bed, etc, so presume the cancer (I have several palpable masses the size of golf balls and one the size of a baseball in my belly) has put pressure on my nerves that control my leg as it had been fine until 6 weeks ago and have had 6 falls since.  Now being careful but hate being limited.  The immobilizer helps a lot, though one has a stiff leg in it and slows me down.  Since it is my left leg, I am hoping I can drive some, as I feel decent otherwise.  The kids are not quite as enthusiastic about that as I am. 

Rachel flew back home to Arkansas to do some work at the university she cannot do on line, hopes to be back in 2 1/2 weeks.  She has been a great help and encouragement, keeps us all on our toes and has helped Jenn a lot with sharing the tasks of meal preparation and laundry, for which we are very thankful.  She sleeps in her bedroom in the basement, so if I vomit or have some grief in the night, she is right there.  Between the 3 kids, I am very well taken care of.

I have had regular contact with Dr. Moise, who tells me that the hospital is functioning fine but the patient load has tapered down to about a quarter of normal volume due to the Covid scares.  They persist in only having the government controlling testing, and that only a limited amount in Port au Prince, so one really has no good idea how many cases they have.  It is reported that they have 81 proven cases and only 8 deaths on the WHO site, but due to limited testing capacity, it is likely a lot more.  He said that, due to government regulations, they try to practice “social distancing” for the patients coming to the clinic and have spread them out over the hospital veranda, etc, but the patients have trouble comprehending what they are doing and cooperating.  Most of them were packed like sardines in the taxi getting there, so why do they have to stay apart.  Haitians tend to have a lesser concept of personal space than we do, they live under crowded conditions for the most part, so like the more cozy atmosphere.  No employees seem to be ill, thankfully, as they do wear masks and protective gear as much as possible.  I am continuing to look into avenues to get more supplies, including more surgical tools for the future as they are very expensive to buy and trying to get good used equipment where possible.  I have not had contact with Dr. William for several weeks, as the internet does not work well in Port, so only usually have contact with him when he is with his family in Cayes, but travel is very limited at present due to Covid. Pray that he will finish well and adjust well to reintegration at the hospital when he hopes to be done in October.

As always, thanks so much for your prayers, support and other encouragement for our ministry at Centre de Sante Lumiere. 

In His Service,

Bill, James, Jenn, Rachel and the rest of the Haiti Team

The Haitian Donkey Ventures Into Holland Hospital (Again)

Hi All:

Since we are keeping our social distances, I will update you on what is going on.  All 4 of us are living and working from home (Rachel teaches her classes on line at University of Arkansas from here), I just take call for the office, which has been quite busy, and James and Jenn each have set up a home office in the bedrooms upstairs.  I continue to fight the infection, we upped the dose of the Amikacin a little and checked levels yesterday (not back yet) in hopes of killing the critter for good.  I had my line changed over a wire on Friday and that went well, but did grow out the critter on the tip.  However, in checking labs for the antibiotic levels on Monday, my Hemoglobin has been drifting down slowly and reached a critical enough level at 6.8 that Dr. De Cook was willing to help me get some blood tomorrow.  I had some blood in January, but between the cancer sapping my condition and the multiple blood draws, my Hemoglobin has drifted down again.  

As you remember, I had severe heartburn and vomiting for 2 days last week, with milder problems on each side of that time.  We hope that I can get a gastric tube placed at Holland Hospital to provide a blow hole for the backed up pressure to be released when needed without all the vomiting and heartburn.  It is only a palliative procedure but if it avoids weeks like last weeks, it will be well worth it.  Dr. De Cook also has arranged for me to receive 3 units of blood, for which I am very thankful.  Unfortunately, with Covid 19, they will not allow anyone to stay with me there in the night, likely not a problem but my left knee is “gimpy” as well as painful.  After 7 years of being numb, the left leg has become alive again and has a throbbing pain that first was in the lower leg, now has moved up to the knee and thigh.  It is troublesome at night in keeping me awake, but sometimes (like yesterday at the pharmacy in the parking lot) it suddenly gives way and I go down.  I use the walker a fair amount if not in the house, will take it with me to the hospital and also use a wheelchair but my frequent nightly bathroom trips will have to find another solution.  

There have been no new updates from Haiti, I have talked to them, but no cases of Corona diagnosed in our section of Haiti, but then, they have no testing supplies, so who really knows what is going on.  Plus, anyone who has ridden down the roads there realize that one can get a nasty cough and congestion just from riding in the open busses and taxis, as they all belch black smoke from their diesel engines and cough, sputter and gasp a lot themselves, let alone the humans who ride in them or follow them.  Please continue to pray that the ministries at CSL can continue and the workers be protected from the nasty virus, as treatment options are about as available as the test kits.  Dan Boerman and I have been trying to figure out how to get more supplies, as IDA in the Netherlands is still on lockdown and even if they open up, who knows when Haiti will and we don’t need our supplies locked up in Port for months.  

In His Service,

Bill for James, Jenn, Rachel and the Haiti Team

The Haitian Donkey gets a small break

Hi Everyone. 

This is Rachel for all of us, to give you a brief update on Dad’s situation and to thank you for all of your prayers on his behalf. He and I spent most of yesterday at the hospital having his port line changed. The procedure went well, but he is quite sore now from all of the poking and prodding. 

In regards to the specific prayers for his blockage, he continues to deal with that situation. He was able to have a little bit of a respite from that as of yesterday (unrelated to his procedure), but it remains to be seen how much has cleared and for how long. It’s one day at a time right now. He does appreciate knowing how much support he has from his family, friends and patients; James, Jenn and I are especially grateful for those of you who have helped us with food and even plants that brighten an otherwise difficult time. 

I am sure he will reach out to you with a more comprehensive update when he is feeling a bit better and has had some rest. In the meantime, we are thankful for you and your prayers on his behalf. 

Rachel, James and Jenn for the sleeping Haitian Donkey

A Very Sick Donkey

Good morning, Jenn here.  Dad has asked that we get a brief update out for prayer.  About 5 days ago he suspected he developed a partial GI blockage, which he often gets as a result of mucous cancer cells “squeezing” the bowels.  A couple days ago he started experiencing severe heartburn and vomiting, which is quite rare given he eats little by mouth and everything he does eat flows into his ostomy bag. Thus, he believes his partial blockage has turned into a full blown blockage.  We have tried everything we can think of, short of surgery, to help the heartburn and limit the vomiting, without success.  He is quite miserable at the moment, and has said that if the blockage doesn’t clear soon he will have some very difficult decisions to make.  He always knew the “suffocation” of his organs was a possibility due to the cancer, so fear he is now experiencing this.

We covet your prayers that the blockage would clear, but if not, he would be relieved of the suffering.

Jenn for Bill, Rachel and James

Update On The Haitian Donkey And His Homeland

Hi All:

I have received a number of requests about updating how both the Haitian Donkey and Haiti is doing.  So, will try to be brief.   I am stable, have almost had 2 weeks of the IV antibiotic, my white counts are coming down, but still have fevers if off the Tylenol and energy level is lousy.  My nausea has continued and I have heartburn a lot, despite taking Prevacid and Zantac, usually relieved by vomiting, which I do every other day or so.  The rest of that day, I feel fine, but that doesn’t help my putting on any meat on my bones. It does appear that, with adjustment of the dose, my kidneys have bounced back to normal, thankfully.   With the nice weather we have been having, have been able to get out and walk a bit with my walker, Rachel goes to the quite empty park with me and runs her 3 mile workout while I toddle along and rest on the picnic table while I wait for her to return.  I have been able to get around the house/basement without the walker fairly well, just troubled that the legs tend to collapse.  Actually it is only the left leg, the anesthesia has left it after 7 yr and it is now painful and weak.  For the most part, I am handling it well, but my sleep is troubled by the painful throbbing in the left leg and using stronger pain meds is not an option for me, as I cannot sleep that that makes the goofy Donkey even goofier.

I have been in contact with Drs. William and Moise a lot, plus some with the administrator, Welser Romulus, they are doing ok but the country is physically clamping down on people starting tomorrow by blocking the road and only letting supplies and food through.  The buses and taxies continue to be packed, as most of the people are desperate as they have not been able to sell their goods for close to a year now and so the risk of the virus is balanced out by the certainty of starvation if they don’t try to do something. Plus, many likely have a hard time understanding what a virus is and how something they cannot even see can cause such devastation.  They have had like 20 tested cases and one death that they know of, who knows how many testing kits are available and used.  They also have little in the way of prevention, so the lack of social spacing increases the risk even more. Please pray for them, especially Dr. William, who is in the middle of it in Port without much in the way of protection.

In His Service,

Bill for all of us