Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Weeeknd in Paradise

Aug 15
The clinic went well with Francel back from his club foot meeting and
Ron going right to work.  Francel was able to arrange the same young
anesthesiologist as before for our cases tomorrow.  I rearranged the
schedule a bit and postponed a couple of cases that I didn’t feel
comfortable doing. I started coming down with some GI virus and took it kind of easy.

Aug 16
I did the first case today of a Cerebral palsy child for hip, knee and
ankle surgery on both legs.  It went well.  The GI problem started
becoming more of a problem so I turned things over to Ron and Francel.
Later today Ron came up to the room and said he had the cure for my
diarrhea.  He said the Haitians recommend mango nectar so he had gone
to the store and got some for me.  My mango allergy is only to the sap
in the tree and the peel of the fruit so I gave it a try.   It tasted
pretty good and it seemed to do the job.  I continued to drink 7-Up to
settle my stomach.  I don’t know if it was the mango juice, the
carbonated stuff or just time but I definitely started feeling better.

Aug 17
I had meetings almost the whole day today.  Leadership planned a
brainstorming session with the hospital department leaders.  Our goal
is to identify and make plans for dealing with the challenges of
maintaining the success of this orthopedic program.  The biggest issue
is the successful recruitment of my replacement.  The first meeting
lasted until after 1 pm.  I grabbed a bite to eat and then went to the
clinic and saw a few patients that Ron and Francel weren’t sure what
to do with.  I then had another meeting that lasted nearly an hour.
Everyone is optimistic that things are going to work out.  There is an
orthopedic surgeon currently working at a small Adventist hospital in
Central America.  He doesn’t have a lot of orthopedic equipment and
isn’t able to do very many cases.  We plan to see if he might have an
interest in coming here.

We received a call from Medishare today asking if we would accept a
patient with a hip fracture if they would send an anesthesia provider.
We accepted the patient.

Aug 18
This really turned out to be a crazy day.  The patient with the hip
fracture came fairly early this morning along with a nurse
anesthetist.  No xrays came with the patient.  We got a small case
done while we were getting the films.  We actually had three rooms
running simultaneously since Francel had arranged for two local
anesthesiologists.  I did the wide excision of the mass on the
patient’s foot even though he was very anemic.  The xray showed a
displaced femoral neck fracture so Ron chiefed Adam the resident on
the hemiarthroplasty which went well.  I started the femoral nonunion
with Francel and was able to remove the old plate and screws but then
had to leave for the airport.  Ron took my place and finished the
double plating and bone grafting.  Meanwhile, Jeannie and I hustled
off to the airport.  We tried to get tickets on Tortug’Air for Santo
Domingo but were told we would have to go standby.  The flight left at
4 pm.  When we got there, we were told we would have to wait until
3:20.  People kept streaming in to check in and my heart continued to
sink.  I was sure we weren’t going to make it to the DR and have a
couple of days in Cabarete with Cameron.  At 3:15 another passenger
ran up to check in which doubled my anxiety.  My concerns were for
naught.  There were 3 seats left when we finally checked in.  Then we
had to notify someone that we were actually going to be arriving in
the smaller international airport just north of Santo Domingo in about
an hour.  We couldn’t get anyone but left messages with 3 people and
hoped for the best.  We thought we might have a really long wait or
maybe a very expensive taxi ride.  The flight went fine.  As we exited
the terminal, I asked Jeannie what she thought the chances were that
someone would be waiting for us.  She answered, “zero!”  As we were
fishing for some Dominican coins to try to call Cameron, up drove Dan
and Sue Ruggles!   Amazing!!  They took us into Santo Domingo to a
nice little hotel near their house.  Tomorrow we plan to get up early
and drive with them to Cabarete.  Scott and Marni Nelson and their
kids have spent this week there with Cameron.

Aug 19
Cabarete is a lovely as ever.  It was fun driving up with Dan and Sue
and getting better acquainted with them.  We made it before noon.
There was a nice breeze already which definitely got my juices
flowing.  Cam had been surfing in some good sized surf at Encuentro
for several hours and he was starved so we got some lunch with him.  I
headed directly down to Vela to try to satisfy my windsurfing
addiction.  After almost 30 years, my passion for the sport is as
strong as ever.  Within an hour the wind had built enough and was
steady.  I chose a medium sized sail and a floaty board and went out.
It was the perfect combination for the conditions.  I sailed hard for
an hour or more, including catching about a dozen nice waves on the
reef.  Some of them were overhead.  What a thrill to ride down the
face of a wave that is breaking at your head and throw in some nice
bottom turns and then laugh at it as you outrun it.  I came in with a
major thirst and talked with Jens for a while then went out for
another session.  After making some nice power jibes and a duck jibe I
sensed the wind was easing off some.  There were some pretty dark
clouds over the hills behind Cabarete which commonly mean rain.  When
that happens the wind can stop abruptly and that means a swim back to
the beach.  My session was over but it was sublime while it lasted.
Getting to do that every week or two would be just perfect.

Jeannie and I took Cam out to eat at our favorite restauant in
Cabarete.  Maraja is probably our favorite restaurant anywhere.  It is
a short walk down the beach from our place.  There are about 10
restaurants on the beach in Cabarete.  They have tables on the sand
under the palm trees.  It is such a unique place, unlike anywhere else
we have been.  Enjoying a really good meal with the sand between your
toes is an experience that everyone should have.  Jeannie and I were
celebrating our 41st anniversary a couple of weeks late.  We didn’t
have the chance to do that when we were in Appleton.

Aug 20
Jeannie and I love waking up in Cabarete and going for a long walk on
the beach together.  It is just about the best way to start the
Sabbath that I know.  Today was totally restful.  The wind was blowing
a bit stronger than yesterday making it a perfect day for windsurfing
and kiting.  Jeannie and I choose to not winsurf or kite on the
Sabbath.  We feel that God gave us a special day each week to rest and
recuperate from the activities of the week.  That break helps us to
recharge ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually.  God asks
us to keep the Sabbath holy and doesn’t specify a list of do’s and
don’ts.  I have found that I don’t even have a desire to windsurf on
Sabbath even though on any other day, it is a totally strong
addiction.  Every person has to decide for themselves what “keeping
the Sabbath holy” means.
Jeannie enjoying a restful weekend in Cabarete

Our 30 hours in Cabarete ended with Cameron taking us to the bus forour trip back to Santo Domingo and then tomorrow our return to Haiti.
It was great to be with Cameron again if even for only a short time. Cabarete is such a special place for us.  We feel that God has given us a small slice of Heaven to enjoy from time to time.  Retirement in a few more years will give us a lot more opportunity to spend months
at a time there.

Aug 21
We had to come and spend the night in Santo Domingo in order to get the 8 am bus to Port au Prince.  Lucia got our bus tickets for us yesterday which was a good thing.  They were the last ones left.  She came with us today to help us this week.  It took 4 ½  hours to get to the border and then about a half hour on each side dealing with immigration, etc.  The 20 miles from the border to Port au Prince took about 2 hours.  The roads are incredibly bad in places.  The bus is very comfortable although the seats are every bit as close together as airplane seats in coach.  We were able to sleep and read nearly the whole time.  The bus terminal is next door to the US embassy which is not far from the airport.  It took more than an hour to get from the terminal to the hospital.  Our orthopedist of the week, Dr Lee Zuckerman, is here.  He is a musculoskeletal tumor specialist from Loma Linda.  We have several cases for him this week.

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