by Aubree Dell, NVM Nurse from her blog "Adventures in Haiti"
A week ago I found myself flying in the back of a pick-up on the way to the hospital again. With Aaron’s fantastic driving skills we raced through intersections, went the wrong way around a round-about, just in time to jump a curb and miss a tap-tap. Little did Aaron know I was praying not only for the man, Clerice had pinned down so he would not throw me out of the truck, but that God would clear the roads like he cleared the Red Sea for the Israelites and we would all make it to the hospital safely.
The police called Pastor Pierre that afternoon and asked if he could send his nurses, aka, Kacie and I out to set a man’s foot so he could than be transported to a hospital. Kacie was watching Baby Rose and so I said I would go, it would only be a quick trip anyways. We thought we were going to the police station about 10 minutes up the road, but when we arrived the police pointed toward the mountains and said the accident happened up there. A couple minutes later we saw a large truck off to the side of the the road and a man lying probably 20 feet away down in the ditch. Aaron saw him first and said, “EWW, his foot is the wrong way!”
Jumping out of the truck, I ran down into the ditch. No one had touched the man and three police officers and another man were standing near the road just watching. Blood was everywhere. I quickly assessed his neuro status which was not good. He was already in shock and couldn’t speak. I moved my eyes down to his leg to find the bottom and top part of his leg detached and it was only holding on by skin. Wishing I would have grabbed more materials out of the clinic I asked if anyone had a knife. The man standing by had a machete and I began to cut his pants open so I could see the injury better. I held pressure as best I could on the veins and arteries that were spewing blood. The man that gave me his machete, also gave me his belt and I tried to make a tourniquet as best I could.
We were not there more than a minute when I told Aaron we needed to get to the closest hospital right now. Talking with the police, who really did not want anything to do with the man told us we could put him in our truck. We asked if we could follow them, thinking they would know the best hospital to go to. After following them, driving 20 mph, to the police station we realized they were not going to help us, and Aaron took matters into his own hands and drove us to hospital we knew would help.
On the way to the hospital I wrestled with this poor man and by the time we arrived it looked like we went through a war with blood saturating both of us. The doctors intubated (put a breathing tube down into his lungs) the patient right away and were working on stabilizing him so he could go to surgery. It was at that time that I left and thought I would never hear about that man again.
Sunday, I was greeted by a smiling police officer. He extended his hand as I approached him and he asked if I remembered him. Of course I remembered him. We talked for a little while and then I asked about the man, we tried to help last week. I found out that he passed away and my heart sank immediately. If this would have happened in the U.S. this man might have lived. Instead, he laid on the side of a busy road, bleeding to death. No one, not even the police wanted to get involved and touch him.
I struggle with the injustices I encounter daily. People trying to survive and provide for their families day to day. It is not easy looking mothers in their eyes when they ask me for food to feed their babies and I cannot just give it to them, because if I did 100 more people would be lined up next. I hate watching sick children in the village suffer because their parents will not bring them to the clinic to get a simple antibiotic after we tell them we can see them for free if they do not have any money. I hate that people have to choose between healthcare and eating.
Mass grave site from the 2010 Earthquake
However, the Haitians have learned to depend on God in a way that I pray I will one day reach. They live day to day trusting that God will show up and provide. In the United States it is harder to have a faith like this because we have so many ways to provide for ourselves. When we need something, we simply run to the store and get it. In Haiti, Christians pray and know God will provide.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:25-27.
A lot has happened over the past few months and I am excited to announce that Pastor Pierre has asked me to stay another year, and I said YES!!! The clinic has been busy lately with lots of sick children. Diarrhea and vomiting seems to be going around which fills our beds with moms holding children receiving IV fluids.
For the past couple months Kacie and I have also been taking care of two older gentlemen that we look
forward to seeing their smiling faces coming to visit every day. One of the gentlemen has had three large leg ulcers for over three months and they were getting worse. He had been to another clinic, but they didn’t seem to be healing. Kacie, being the amazing nurse she is, sits down with little ole gramps and cleans his ulcers by scraping all the infection away every day. She then rubs lotion on his cracked, peeling skin and keeps him company while he is with us.
My favorite part though is when Kacie goes on and tries to explain his medicine over and over again and he is so confused. I hear her say this one you take two times a day, do you understand? Yes. Ok, what did I just say? I take it three times a day. Let’s try again. Now, the red pills you take every morning and the other pills you take two times a day. Now, tell me again, when do you take this pill? Three times a day. No, two times a day. What about this one? One time a day. No, three times a day…and on and on… She is so good and patient.
Lukner, the other gentlemen is also just as sweet and a little less confused. He arrived by motorcycle 4 months ago with what I thought was an above the knee amputation. Kacie and I recognized his family but could not place the patient. Natasha handed us his file and we quickly realized the last time we saw this man he had two legs. Lukner was carried into the clinic by his son. He winced and tried to smile as his family laid him on the bed. He came on a weekend and complained of a pain in the back of his leg that resembled a blood clot. We were not quite sure what to do for him, so we gave him a baby Aspirin and had him come back to see the doctor. Monday morning his family carried him back in and the doctor agreed with our diagnosis. She sent him to the general hospital to receive further treatment.
We had not heard from him again until his wife carried him in the door one Tuesday morning. It had been a few days since his surgery and he still had the same dressing on his stump. When we unwrapped the hardened bandages that were now growing into his skin, I could not believe what I saw. Lukner’s femur was sticking out like a skinned chicken bone with a ligament just hanging out underneath the bone, no skin to cover anything. It looked as if the surgeon cut off the bottom part of his leg, scraped off the cartilage and knee cap, then decided he would go to lunch. I was completely shocked.
We ended up sending Lukner back to the hospital, which took about two weeks for him to get there, make the appointment, and have another surgery. He had his leg re-amputated, the right way, and stayed in the hospital for about a month. Two weeks ago he came back into the clinic. His leg looked so much better, however he did have quite a bit of infection. Kacie and I went to his house every day for a week so he could get 4 shots of antibiotics a day. After changing his dressings today, his leg is healing and Lukner is in good spirits.