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Monday, February 8, 2010


Day + 1 after the quake: Also know as Tsunami night

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

Instead of letting an inordinate amount of fear set in that night, I should have repeated this verse to myself and to others around me. 

A midwife, OB nurse, and EMT arrived around midnight after the quake, so they were hard at work when Ashley and I returned at about 7 or 8am, after a brief attempt at sleep. They were continuing to suture patients, place IV's, pass out pain meds (we only had Ibuprofen, Tylenol and IV Diclofenac), and clean wounds. Different people brought more supplies throughout the night and have continued to do so up until now.

Memorable moments of the day:

Soon after I arrived, Ari told me that Erta had been found. "Alive?" I said. "Yes, alive, but is injured. We don't know how bad." Ari and I hugged and cried. Erta had called her dad at some point that morning and he had called Marlval. Again, Marlval went out to look for but wasn't able to get close enough to her location due to either debris or traffic. Later that afternoon she came hobbling in, supported by her mom. "I wasn't going to leave that school without her," her mom said. So, she'd walked around the area of the school and found her sleeping at a park. Soon after her school collapsed, Erta had climbed her way out of the rumble, found her brother, and they walked to a nearby park to sleep with some other classmates. Erta said she'd "seen a light and followed it out." She'd only managed to sustain a sprained ankle! Oh, and her hair. It looked like she'd stuck it in an electric socket. Being the friend that I am, I of course teased her about it for the rest of the day, as well as hugged her repeatedly and told her that I had cried the most for her out of anyone else. Thank you, Jesus, for this beautiful, funny, smart friend of mine!

An Haitian orthopedic surgeon showed up to aid us. Oh, how excited and thankful we were! Most of the injuries we saw from here on out were broken bones or open wounds on arms or legs (especially open ankle wounds) and we especially needed this doctor to treat these patients. The number of people with head lacerations significantly decreased after day one.

I was sitting inside with Daphne, whose leg had been placed in traction by a former EMT currently living in Haiti, when I heard a commotion coming from the front gate at around 10 or 11pm. I left a crying Daphne in a room with other pediatric patients to find out what was occurring. Ashley told me that some people had run by the open gate of the boys’ home yelling in Creole, “There’s water coming!” The doctors, who had just finished operating on one arm of a woman with compartment syndrome, but had yet to bandage her arm, were discussing whether to believe the words of the people running by and yelling. The doctors informed us that the radio had been warning people that a Tsunami would next hit Haiti. The orthopedic surgeon’s wife, our neighborhood’s Minister of Health, insisted that they leave. The anesthesiologist working with him wanted to check on her dad who lives nearby, so she ran out of the clinic right after our surgeon left. Ashley, appearing to know about Tsunami’s, insisted that a tsunami would have followed immediately after the earthquake, not a day later. Also, where would the water come from? The ravine just down the street only has a stream running through it at best. Someone from the visiting team from the states walked in, heard the commotion, and began to insist that we get all of the MdL kids up to the roof. There is no roof top that all our kids can fit on at the boys’ home, so the next best thing was the guest house. Would it fall in with more than fifty people walking on it? While the kids were woken up (they all slept in the “bens”, the sport court connected to the boys’ home), marched between the scared patients and down the street to the guest house, Marlval was screamed at by Ashley and I (sorry, man) to wake up Bill and Susette to find out what they knew about the tsunami scare and what decisions they wanted to make for our kids. Neither Ashley nor I wanted to make that decision, let alone figure out what to do with our patients if there was a tsunami coming. I briefly imagined Daphne and I huddled together and dying in a flood.  Hands down this was the scariest, worst night of my life. We all let fear rule us that night. I think I thought that if an earthquake had occurred, we had turned the boys’ home into a hospital and surgery was being performed there, why wouldn’t another crazy thing like a tsunami hit us now?

Robert grabbed a flashlight and walked down the street to see if he could see more people or “water.” I learned later that when the kids arrived at the guesthouse, the roof was vetoed as not safe for that many people and Cindy (bless her- we all agreed later she was right) thought the idea of a tsunami was ridiculous and based on fear. Apparently the visitors thought differently as they all decided to hang out on the roof for a bit.  Marlval either was afraid to wake up Bill and Sue when he got to their house or the guard wasn’t too keen on waking them up. Either way, they heard the stories the next day. Our wonderful patients never uttered a peep about the fear seizing us- they just stared at us with wide eyes and I’m sure felt fear of their own- i.e. how am I going to get up to a roof with two broken legs or my arm open to the muscle? The kids were walked back to the bens, hopefully having no idea why their crazy American friends were walking them back and forth. Robert found no water and very few people in the area. Soon our doctors returned and resumed their work on the lady’s arm. However, Ashley and I were deeply shaken and found it difficult to place an IV for another lady. I don’t remember now how she got her IV. At around 1 or 2am I laid down on a mattress next to Daphne, Ari, and Erta. Daphne had an adverse reaction to a small dose of Vicodin (some nice person had shared a bottle with us!) I had given her earlier that day, so I was up most of the night with her while she experienced hallucinations and major itching.