Wednesday . Jan 20 . 2010
Pretty tough to know where to start. Sorry if this is too viral now--our intention was not to do anything other than keep a journal of a few of the special, memorable stories and let you all know that we are alive and kicking.
Today we continued our efforts with the Cubans. It is a remarkable, comical setup. You have the Mormons the Cubans and the Menonites (the Canadians said that sounds like a joke). They have joined up with us the past few days and have helped with crowd control and basic medicine and wraps. We are all in a little compound or school with hundreds of people laying around waiting for help. Back in Leogane the Canadians set up in the field where our choppers landed with us Monday. We are starting to see some great cooperation!
One of the most amazing parts of this whole setup is the way we have been supported by the ward here in Leogane. The Bishop has anticipated and cared for every little need. We have a great, secure place to sleep with the generator running (most of the time) so we have fans. When we need drinks, the members go grab them so the boys don't get dehydrated. There is a member here with a truck (SUV) and he has taken us everywhere we need to go.
We discovered today that Frere Eddy lost his 11 yr old in the earthquake. He is the one with the computer that allows me to write this epistle every night. Every night when we come back from a lifetime's worth of stuff in 10 hours, the members have a great meal ready for us. Gary is now begging for rice and beans and chicken sauce!!! We came thinking that we would provide help for them and they have done nothing but serve us.
Okay just a few stories:
Today we were joined by the EMTs and nurse from St. George and Dr. Ray Price and Dr. Creig McArthur from the church's delegation that came down Sunday. I think we entertained them completely. Chuck did toes two and three and Steve did toes two three four and five. Chuck and Steve turned a guy into a shooter--thumb and pointer remained.
Probably the most amazing story of the day is a follow up to yesterday's story about Edgar's niece. Today at about 4 o'clock a haitian group came to our compound and had space for 6 people to transport to Port-au-Prince to receive immediate surgery. We had a bunch of people with open fractures that we wanted to get on there. I quickly thought of Edgar's niece-- she is the little girl who was one of two survivors in her school class of 34. Edgar had been with us earlier but it is impossible to get in touch with anyone here. Cell phones are spotty, etc. As I walked over to see if he was still there, a small SUV pulled up and it was her!!! I can assure you that there is no explanation for timing like that other than prayers. She got on the truck. While Steve and Ray Price (it was fun for us to have Ray join the team and jump right in) were cutting off toes 2,3,4,and 5 - sorry Stan and Tim--A really nice German doc came over and held the flashlight for them for at least an hour so they could finish--yes we were doing surgeries in the dark, but we had good flashlights! ;)
There was an 18 yr. old girl who was home when the earthquake hit. her whole family died except for her--she was hit in the head and has brain damage. Her body was writhing and she has extension posturing in the right side of her body. She continually yells out and hasn't slept in five days. Because her whole family died her classmates from school have taken her in and cared for her, trading off day by day. Imagine someone requiring constant attention and not being able to sleep, but they stick with her.
One of the funnest stories of the day was when Jan--the nurse who came today with the EMTs--part of the St.George team, delivered a baby. The mother found us with an IV and everything totally ready to go. Jan discovered her as the baby was coming and delivered her. When the baby came out, she wasn't breathing so Gary grabbed her and, as he said, tossed her around a bit then held her in the air and everyone cheered!
Today we saw reporters from Time, People and BBC. Chuck talked to the Swedish reporters--Chuck is fluent in Swedish Chef.
Gary has been helped every day by a girl from Connecticut who is here on vacation. She has become his personal translator --yes I have been replaced -- it is amazing, she keeps returning to help and she is very useful.
These are such great people. Gary has remarked many times how the kids and the people love to touch you--shake hands, hand on shoulder, hold your hand, etc. They are very endearing. The kids don't care that he doesn't know the language, they just love to follow him around and smile at him, etc. We have tons of pictures, hopefullly we can remember some of the faces and put them with the stories...
Craig, Chuck, Steve and Gary
PS the aftershock got us out of bed early this morning but wasn't too scary...
Thursday . Jan 21 . 2010
Not positive but I think maybe the fourth aftershock of the day knocked out a tower in Leogane??
My phone hasn't been working and the internet wouldn't do anything.
Today was a day of branching out. Some of my stories are more second-hand because I took Dr. Price and Dr. McArthur into Port-au-Prince with Frere Eddy. Let's start there.
We couldn't get Dr's Price (Ray) and (Creig) McArthur back to the main group of docs who came down with the church. They are in Port and it got too late, so they stayed with us here in the chapel in Leogane. We took the 2nd Counselor with us, Frere Matthieu. He has been helping us since we arrived in Leogane. The Bishop assigned him and Sister Patricia (a recently returned missionary from Leogane) to shadow us and help us with anything and everything. They have done everything from opening instrument packages during surgeries to washing the blood away to holding patients during procedures. We discovered that Frere Matthieu's wife gave birth to a baby boy at 1 a.m. Thursday morning in St. Marc, about 100 miles away so we took him with us into PAP so he could catch a bus to meet his brand new baby! Their first! We wanted to pay him for all he had done to help. When I tried to do that he refused saying 'you are here serving us, what I did was service too.' So we gave money to the Bishop who gave it to him as a gift for the baby!!!
When I got into PAP I was happy to meet up with Alex Laguerre right when we got to the Stake Ctr. We knew it as Chapel Central while I was serving in Haiti 20 years ago. I was walking up the drive and a man and woman were walking towards me and the guy said, 'you look like Craig Nelson' I grabbed him and gave him a big hug. He was such a great missionary and leader.
I stayed there at the Stake Center for about two hours waiting for the church contingency to figure a few things out, including providing us with much needed supplies. Another highlight was running into Kristin Larson's husband and Marcia Peterson' brother, Dan Egan. I wanted him to come back to Leogane and let me take care of him and translate for him a bit. I gave money to the Stake Pres for members in PAP and I gave money to him for Mildors wife in the event that I couldn't track her down. Frere Eddy and I drove over to the Delmas Chapel to try and find Aurore, but was unsuccessful. On our way thru Port we were sitting at an intersection and the truck started shaking. I thought the big bus next to us hit us, but then everyone around started talking abt an aftershock.
It was good to talk with Frer Eddy on the drive back. He teared up when he related how his 11 year old Kristine, who stayed after school to get extra tutoring, was killed in the earthquake.
Now to the docs in Leogane. When I returned to our setup here the Mormons the Menonites and Cubans had been joined by the Germans. A group of medical pros from Munich found us here. Gary, and the St. George guys--Kiani, Kurt, Troy and Jan did some great bartering with them and they invited Steve into their tent to amputate a lady's foot! She had a bad foot wound and the outside of her heel and the whole foot was badly infected. The tent was way more sterile than anything we had used for surgeries before. But don't be too dismayed, Steve used a leatherman saw--yes it was sterile--to saw off the tibia and the fibula. Steve said its called a bologna amputation. (Sorry, I guess it's spelled belowknee...)
Gary and Bethany, the young Menonite lpn did a burn debrievement--took off dead skin for a 6 year old little girl who was in their house while her mom was preparing dinner and the earthquake caused her to have boiling beans spilled on her right arm and chest--the entire right front quarter. The drugs were extremely helpful, she screamed and yet was really tough.
We cannot thank everyone enough for donations and especially Taylor Drug and IHC Am Fork hospital for what they gave us. The suffering is overwhelming and the ability to provide even a little relief almost makes it bearable.
Chuck took a 65 year old and with Gary they took off left ring finger and toes 1 2 and 3 on the right foot. Gary was excited to be able to share with a German gu--1st year resident who showed up with a German news crew and preened in front of the camera for a minute or two-- good looking young guy who they used to get the word out about the german contingency here.
We shared patients with the Canadians and the Menonites helped us transport them over.
I got transfered to the Canadians and Steve is my new/old comp. The Menonites took us over so Steve could do a surgery or two with their orthopod. Steve put an external fixator on a broken femur without xray guidance! The patient was a 16 year old we had cared for @ New Mission and then transported to the Canadians. His name was Wishly, he lives out in Ti Riviere about 10 miles away.
I worked with Sam, a doc from Zimbabwe who now lives in Canada. I did a bunch of translation stuff. The most interesting was a 20-year old who was in school with 54 classmates when the earthquake hit. She was one of 5 who got out. She had a double femur fracture and the doc tried to explain that they couldn't operate but needed to put her in bed and put the leg in traction. Her brother and Sister were caring for her and they both looked up at me real quick and said "we don't have a bed, we don't have a house." They are living in the tent city here in a little soccer stadium.
I know I have been here too long, I got choked up when, after showing them how to put the leg in skin traction with rope, tape and a cinder block, the doc told the bro and sis to come get him in a week and he would come with them to their tent and check up on her.
Steve and I then came back here to the chapel where the members had cooked a bunch of extra rice and beans so we could take some to the Canadians - they only had MREs. They were so excited about the food that they have planned to come over here to the chapel this afternoon to watch the girls cook it so they can replicate!
All of the uncertainty has been difficult. Not knowing when and how and where we are going is tough but everything has worked out so far. It sounds like the choppers are coming to get us around noon Friday. My phone isn't receiving or sending texts or emails but when this gets through please know that we are happy and full of faith. Please keep praying that we will see you soon!
Craig, Chuck, Steve and Gary
Craig, Chuck, Steve and Gary