About my serious side

Not to break the spell or spoil the fun, but you've probably figured out my real name isn't Dummy.

The CTD Diaries is my playground. No one tells the truth in their diaries anyway so I figured I should find another place to get real, where the head lights aren't so bright. I originally thought this would be a good place to post my creative writing, but I think this is just a good place to tell the truth.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Helpers in Haiti

I received the following email from my good friend, Mags and I immediately asked permission to post it here.  


My brother Craig who served a mission in Haiti 20 years ago but still speaks fluent Haitian Creole (he translates for General Conference for Haiti), went with a group of doctors that included two former mission companions. He got there Sunday to the Dominican Republic. Yesterday was his first full day in Haiti.



We are in Leogane. We went to Jacmel first and landed with at least 12 - 15 other doctors from Houston with more expected soon. We had heard that there were a lot of problems in Leogane without a lot of doctors and Chuck's dreams were answered. Chuck was Branch President here 20 years ago. My best guess is that we treated around 30 people today. Each individual needed procedures - fractures, dislocations, head trauma (including a sweet little girl who is a member of the church - 8 years old - with exposed bone and infections all over her head).

There were a number of individuals whose infection was beyond our treatment level and needed immediate surgery (amputation) but we cannot do anything other than clean and give antibiotics and pain meds. Everyone we saw needed a lot of help. 

We are setup right in the LDS Chapel here in Leogane. Chuck Steve and Gary were incredible. We feel extremely fulfilled and tired. The church members here in Leogane are very helpful too. I think there are probably 200+ people living here in the chapel --right now we are in the same room where we did all the work today, it is the chapel and multi-purpose room. There are 20 kids/people watching a church movie on a TV. There are two or three families asleep in the middle of the room and there are a bunch of people milling around--that's just in here. There are at least 100+ sleeping out in the front area or parking lot. We just had dinner--they made us rice and beans with chicken sauce!!! We are going to sleep in the Sunday School room where they put up drapes and mattresses. There is a generator but Gary still doesn't know how he's going to take a shower --no running water.

Flying over Port-au-Prince and Jacmel and Carrefour and Leogane was tough. There were a lot of really pancaked houses and there were tons of people displaced. The sad thing is, it didn't look that different except the really affected houses, etc. These people have endured so much, we were all on the verge of tears so many times today--seeing the kids was especially hard. If I had time I would spend a couple hours and write about every one of the little kids that Steve and Chuck and Gary put casts on or reduced dislocations or stitched up. There was even a 3 month old that Chuck put a cast on his right ankle which was broken --this is almost one week after his house fell on him and busted it!!!


How can I describe what happened today...

1. Teamed up with Cubans
2. Australian Reporter
3. Guy died in Gary's arms
4. Chuck and Steve cut off a bunch of fingers
5. Really, really tired

We started off the day by deciding to set up a clinic at a location other than the LDS Chapel here in Leogane. We went over to where Chuck and Steve had been yesterday where there was a small team of Cuban doctors on their way and a lot of people needing help. We found the Cubans were there and had plans for a pretty nice setup. While Chuck and Steve got things going, Gary and I decided to run back over to where Doctors without Borders (Medicine Sans Frontiere - MSF) was working with the Japanese team. We (Gary and I) wanted to connect with someone so we could help with more acute medical situations. We needed X-ray capabilities and possibly even surgical or amputation abilities. When we got there the Japanese and the MSF were fighting and there was a news team from Australia there trying to find someone to help them get a good story about the needs so I grabbed them and we took them back over to where Chuck and Steve were setting up. They hung with us for about 3 hours or all morning. They interviewed Gary and Chuck and Steve and I and they took about 1 1/2 hrs of video - promised to send it to us!!! They wanted to get a story or two about children receiving attention in dire or difficult situations. That was pretty easy.

They took the most footage of Steve and Chuck putting a body cast (hip spica) on a little girl named Beauvais with a femur fracture. She was really in bad shape--imagine having an 8 year old daughter break her leg--her femur and then just sit around for a week. The whole operation (if you could call it that) was done on the ground or on cinder blocks with a large group of Haitians surrounding us and holding her.

We were setup in an old school with a number of buildings and rooms with old desks or chairs in them--nothing was even close to sterile let alone clean. Gary was over in another part of the compound helping to administer drugs to people in post op situation. The Cubans were performing amputations --probably 6 or 7 --and Gary helped them with pain --he is really good at that. While helping Steve and Chuck with a few things and talking with the reporter, Pete, Gary came running over to us and asked for an ambu bag or battery/hand operated suction. When I got in there he was holding a guy about 20 years old who had just had his leg amputated. Because he aspirated his own saliva and Gary had no way to get the stuff out a pretty healthy young guy died (other than just undergoing an amputation of an infected leg with sepsis without anesthesia).

Chuck is telling me about a 2-month-old baby whose mom died on top of her and she survived but was trapped for quite awhile --who knows exactly how long. The baby had some pretty bad mental issues --moving, but not very well, eyes continuously crossed and uncrossed, weak cry, etc., either hypoxic or intracranial bleeding.

Chuck and I are trying really hard to keep laughing. We both just discovered that the tears will not stop once they start -- it's a good thing he's such a goofball.

GRAPHIC STUFF - Chuck and Steve spent at least 45 minutes amputating a little boy's left pinky. It was burnt and had bone sticking out. They had to put a tourniquet on him to stop the bleeding and Chuck got some spine instruments to cut the bone.

Then they spent at least an hour helping a 60+ yr old lady whose pointer, middle and ring fingers were completely destroyed and rotten. I put a couple extra tourniquets on her because she kept bleeding. There was an extremely comical moment -- if you can get over the sick, twisted, disgusting nature of it. As Steve was taking off bandages and beginning to cut off rotten fingers, there were maggots falling out. Steve was very gentle and helped all the maggots out carefully with his scalpel - he said, "move along little doggies." After a lot of manipulation and cutting she is now much much better off and can easily do a hang ten.

Edgar's niece (Edgar is Chuck's best buddy and former 1st Counselor in Leogane Branch) was in school with 34 kids/students. She is one of two who survived. She had a bad leg and it was splinted by a local doctor. It was an open broken tibia and fibula everything was swollen and infected. She needs amputation. She is getting X-Rays tomorrow because she might have a broken femur too. Edgar is family. Chuck couldn't talk, it hurt so bad. He told Edgar and his brother that she needed her leg amputated. The little girl's Dad--Edgar's bro said to Chuck, "No problem you can cut off both legs if needed, she is alive and for that we are grateful."

Please do not be overly concerned. The good that we are doing here is amazing. We could go home today and be totally fulfilled. The needs here are overwhelming but every person helped is another opportunity to live a long, healthy life. The people have no idea that there situation is so bad and therefore for them it isn't. They are happy and tough and resilient - seriously when you see the ugly or painful situations that little small children are in and then they smile it all melts away. thanks for letting us come and thanks for dealing with the consequences - I know that Heavenly Father loves these people. I feel it every time I get one of those smiles. Your prayers are being answered.


springrose said...

I can not imagine what they are going through! We take so much for granted here. I think when you already have so little and have it taken away you understand so much more then others that life is all that matters! We sometimes mourn for others on TV for the loss of material things. When all that matters is life! Thank you for sharing.

Amanda said...

Thanks Margaret and Crash for sharing this with us. I think we all need to see what's going on over there and searching our hearts about what we can do.

April said...

There are no words to express what a trial the people of Haiti are going through. It is heartwarming to see people step up and give.