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

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

The Donkey Comes Home!

All,

We have some exciting news to share. We just brought Dad home to his basement apartment in our house and he is sitting comfortably in his chair with his cat Pete nearby! Thank you for all of the visits, cards, emails, texts, meals, and especially those that sat with him day and night these past few weeks. Thanks also for the many prayers on his behalf, which God has answered. Please continue to lift him (and us) up in the upcoming days and months as there are many difficult times and decisions ahead. For now, he is just happy to be home and out of the hospital.

For those who would like more details, Dad still has the infection, but the antibiotic seems to be controlling the symptoms and he can continue the four week course from home. His vitals, including his temperature/fever, have all looked good for several days, so the hospital felt comfortable discharging him. Dad is alert and feeling strengthened, although still a little tired. For this reason, please do call/email/text Jenn or James prior to visiting him, just to make sure he is able to see you. We are also still not sure of when he will be able to go back to work at Georgetown/Sunset, nor what his schedule will look like, so that is another reason to let us know before you visit. As always, he welcomes cards/emails/texts of encouragement at anytime.

Please pray for strength, health, and peace for Dad during this time. Specifically, please pray that God would spare him from further infections for at least a time. Pray also for his kids, for Jenn and I as we care for him, and for Rachel as she lives far away and is only able to visit as her work permits, which is very difficult for her. We are thankful that she could be with him this weekend. Finally, pray for wisdom for Dad and the family as to what we should do and how he can continue to serve the Lord. Our God is able, even when facing Stage 4 cancer.

God Bless,

James for Rachel and Jenn

A Discouraging Day for the Donkey

Good evening, Dad has asked that we send an update to his faithful prayer warriors.  His days at Mary Free Bed (MFB) have been filled with Occupational and Physical Therapy, which he enjoys just fine (except for the squats!)  He is tired from the activity, but overall has been feeling “pretty good” and has also been eating a little for the first time in well over a month. 

Today, the blood cultures that were drawn on Saturday at MFB showed growth of the same gram negative bug, Klebsiella.  What the doctors feel this indicates is that while the antibiotics are working, the infection is “seeded” and Dad is still bacteremic.  In other words, the source of the infection is still there and active, which is most likely from his central line.  Even though he was doing fine, the doctors decided he needed to be transferred BACK to the hospital, so that he can work with Infectious Disease on a course of action, which falls outside the level of care MFB can provide.  Thus, Dad is now at St. Mary’s (Lacks – #405) where he will await a new plan of action.  

He has asked for specific prayer re: wisdom for the doctors and the decisions that need to be made.  Essentially, they could remove the port to clear the infection, but risk not being able to replace the line and Dad would not be able to receive TPN, his primary source of nutrition.  However, if they leave the port, he will continually be at risk for infection, which is also not a good option.  He is naturally discouraged, as this feels like a step backward, but we trust that God will cause all of this to work out for good and for His glory.  Will you join us in prayer for these matters?

We also want to thank all of the family and friends who have stayed at the hospital day and night, visited Dad, provided meals, cards, etc.  Now that he will not be doing therapy, he can have visitors during more times of the day, which always encourages him. Please let us know if you would like to visit.  As before, feel free to call, email, or text us “Kids”. 

Thanks to you all,

Jenn, James, and Rachel