Will give you all an update before the next trip down south. I am very glad that the recovery from the repeat hernia repair/clean out of the mess in the groin, etc went very well, thanks to Dr. Dan De Cook, the Lord (of course) and all your prayers and I feel back to my normal skinny self. However, the weight has been returning much easier after the hernia/cleanout and I am now at 11 pounds, so cleared for takeoff by Karen’s flight regulations. I have been eating 1/2 of a sandwich, or whatever edible things I can find/Karen makes for me, at least 3 times during the night, this has supplemented the body corpulence quite nicely. So, for all you who have contributed, either by prayer, encouragement and many who have brought “tasty snacks” to me one way or another, THANKS very much. I would like to gain a few more pounds to have a bit of a buffer zone to live with, but am very appreciative that the strength is really back to normal and am able to do most anything (that I could do before, of course, still cannot climb a ladder more than a few rungs without my knees shaking, still don’t love flying, or more precisely, riding in fast moving bodies that wobble, etc) now again.
I am in the process of checking my labs to see if the anemia has resolved, or at least improved, as am planning on doing my first post hospitalization CT scan when I get back from Haiti, on the 27th of August and need the chemistries checked before they give me the “contrast smoothie” to drink. I think it should be fine, although Dr. Bartlett decided that I would not need chemotherapy for the time being and will see if we do ok without it. I am not eager to add that, but will do as told, I suppose, if the order comes down from Pittsburgh. My brother in law, Harold, is undergoing it, has had a change from the Gemzar, which I think is more aggressive (and much newer), to the 5FU that I had last year, a cousin chemotherapy of a similar class and hopefully better tolerated. He really seems to try his best to remain as active as possible, which I am sure helps keep his body in shape to try to fight the cancer and I am always encouraged to see my friend and brother keep going with a disease that has a prognosis as dismal as mine, but, by God’s grace, we are both doing fairly well. I also have been taking some chloroquine again to be sure that malaria doesn’t rear it’s ugly head as it did after my second surgery in Pittsburgh in May. I have done it with some apprehension as I developed severe hives with the treatment, using a cousin of chloroquine, called hydroxychloroquine, used for treating rheumatoid arthritis, as there was no malaria treatment to be found in the hospital otherwise. We used chloroquine for all our years overseas without reactions on my part, but had stopped as my cumulative dose would be too high if I continued it while in Haiti. But, restarting as really don’t want malaria again at this point (or ever?).
Dr. James Webb just returned from Haiti last weekend from his second trip there since my surgery and it went well, both in the number of cases done and how they went and in his travels back and forth, as he always tries to go standby and there are a lot of unknowns involved. We are thankful also that Dr. William was able to pick him up and bring him back to the airport, it is an extra burden for him and I appreciate him trying to make things as smooth for the surgeons who fill in the gap for me. Dan Boerman and I will leave next Saturday, the 16th of August, Lord Willing, and I have a number of extra projects that I would like to try to sort out as well as I can. The biggest for us at present is to continue to sort out the financial situation of the hospital, as well as the USAID continuing saga. I don’t understand still what is all going on there, not sure I will this side of heaven, but will keep working on it with Dan and other’s help. There are so many “fuzzy finances” involved that the smoke screen never really lifts the fog off the books.
I also am still making attempts to contact others re the possibility of a surgical residency for the men, not sure I am making much progress yet. I have sent out letters to several physicians and the head of University Lumiere, not sure how much this works in the Haitian culture, so will try to contact them personally also. There seem to be so many roadblocks in the path that at times I don’t know if this is God’s way of telling me that I am not to go down that path or just testing if I am persistent enough to walk in faith for His glory, as Jesus encourages us to do in Luke 18:7, in the parable of the unjust judge who delivered the widow due to her persistence, and He says God will answer those who cry day and night to Him also. So, continue to pray for divine wisdom and balance in the many tasks in front of us in the next few months. I do have a set of requirements for making a hospital in Haiti considered a university hospital, the first step in having a residency program, plus have gathered a bunch of data from our sister hospital, who would join us in this venture, but there seem to be a bunch of things that still lie before us that no one really seems to know for sure in my questionings.
I also hope to join our sister hospital in making combined IDA orders from the Netherlands, so that we can save money and get meds and supplies more frequently (so keep fresher stock in the pharmacy, etc) in 40 foot sea containers, we hope to go maybe for 3 or 4 times a year. However, this takes more time on my part to do the ordering, as it has to be done online and coordinated. We hope to also accomplish the first order in the next few weeks. In addition to the medical work, Dan, Duane and Jeff have been brainstorming on how to fix a sewer leak from the septic tank that handles most of the waste of the hospital and is located next to the “condominiums” as the hostels have been dubbed, so that looking out your back door may lead you to decide that the odor is not worth the lush greenery that grows in the immediate area. A storage space was inadvertently built right on top of the tank, limiting access to a considerable degree. Things in Haiti never seem to have easy solutions and I am eternally grateful for my dear friends who help so much in keeping the physical grounds clean, functional and constantly improved.
So, will stop with the update and write again when we are in Haiti. We certainly appreciate your prayers, encouragement and help as we continue to serve Him in Haiti at Centre de Sante Lumiere.
In His Service,
Bill, Karen, Rachel, James and Jenn (and Dan)