Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Things missionary-y

I got a haircut today. It was a missionary haircut. That means I sacrificed myself for the cause of the furthering education of a struggling student eager to learn a skill to support themselves....and prayed a lot!(think of all the situations you could use that sentence...whether your teaching people to sew in India or at the salon in a high school,or wherever you may be!) And it only cost $6...that's also missionary-y I hear...being thrifty.

Then I realized how utterly badly I had needed a haircut. It made me a little embarrased seeing how good my hair looked having bad hair also missionary-y??

The first time I almost fainted

I got my stitches out yesterday. It was really awkward for my doc to get them out, cuz I can't bend/straighten my wrist. So it took some maneuvering. And then all of a sudden I came thisclose to passing out. It was wacked. All of a sudden I felt all lightheaded and nauseous, and knew if I didn't sit down, I'd be falling down. My doc said "put your head down between your legs...farther!". Then there was a nurse and a cold cloth...and I started shaking. That was fun.
But I got some awesome juice and some flat pop out of the deal, and they even tracked my mom down to come and get me...good old small towns!
I was fine...I got to lay in the coffee room and watch a good lookin' doc walk through a couple times and look at me with concern in his was worth it all!
And my doc even called me at home that night to make sure I was alright!!

Home for the Holidays(plus 2-3months)

So, found out last week that I'm likely going to be home until March sometime. Kinda what I was expecting, but still dissapointing nonetheless.
I got busy this week finding things to keep myself busy...looks like I'll be helping out again at Youth For Christ, which makes me happy as I've already been able to reonnect with lots of "my kids". Also, there is no shortage of things to get involved in at church, so I'm not gonna be bored!! Still deciding about getting a job....though I have come to realize that my options are very limited...I can't even really put something in a bag...ask the bakery people at Sobeys about the bagels!!
On the exciing side, I've received a number of invitations to see kids that we've adopted out in their homes here in Alberta, and that's really exciting for me!! Also, a teacher that went to HCH this summer just emailed me to ask me to do a presentation at his Jr.High about Haiti and HCH! Such a cool opportunity!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

How I Made it Home for Christmas-ish...(part 3)

Ok, so here's the final bit that will catch you up to where things are today!

We arrived in Miami a little late due to a late departure in Haiti(at least some things remain the same) and proceeded to try and find a hotel. The thing was it was the 27th and everything was booked or had smoking only, or they wanted some atrocious amount cuz we had no advanced booking. We finally found a spot at Days Inn(I think it was that one..) and were picked up surprisingly quickly by the shuttle. One of the fellow passengers kept changing accents and languages, so Kristy asked him where he was from. He was British, and when we asked him how many laguages he spoke, the answer was "oh, just four"! Anyway, we got to the hotel, which was a little seedy and our room was quite, well cozy. We got some supper and headed to bed as our flight out was at 6am. Poor Kristy had all these red splotches on her back that were in keen competition with my rash/ringworm, and had a horrible night...we got some great pics though which I might get in trouble for posting, so I won't..probably.
The`rest of the flight was fairly uneventful, and my thumb was not hurting at all which was a blessing. On the flight from Dallas to Calgary Kristy and I split up so we could get window seats and sleep. Which was great, except I had this interesting family in and around my row, who was from Florida heading to Banff for their vacation. And the kids had never experienced snow before. We had a great time chatting about Alberta and Haiti and HCH and healthcare systems and all sorts of things. Before I knew it we had arrived in Calgary. And I began to realize how cold I was going to be in my skirt and my flip-flops...that's all I had in Haiti to wear! But, Russ and Becky came through and surprised us at the airport, and I soon had on some sweats under my skirt and Russ' big warm coat, and socks in my flipflops...very stylish!!
We stopped in Airdrie to find some shoes and pants, and then headed to the UofA Hospital emergency to get things underway regarding my thumb.
We all arrived at about 7pm ( I think...that day is kinda blurry) and the admission nurse took off the small wrapping I'd had on my thumb, and it started bleding again. That was exciting. After she heard what had happened, she called an ortho nurse who took one look and confirmed my tendon suspicions. Then the first nurse wrapped my thumb back up so well another nurse teased her that she was helping me get was funny!
So there we sat, soon joined by my family and Ingie...we chatted and looked at pics...then Russ and Becky went and got Panago...we had our own little party right there amongst all the interesting(and did we see interesting) people.

The tendon called Flexor Pollicus Longus is the one this whole story is about.

Then my brother Caleb got mugged.
For real.
He went to the safeway on Whyte Ave to get some drinks fo us all, and as he was getting back in the car, two guys jumped him, made him give then his wallet, threatened to beat him if he did not give them his pin #, and after confirming it was the right pin#, they punched him in the face and took off.
Fun addition to the night. But Ingie got to give the cute cop her phone number.

Anyway, 7 hours later I got to see a nice doc who immediatly called up to the plastic surgeon and made an appointment for the next day. Then I got to teach the two nurses how to put a splint on my thumb...all that physio training really paid off with this injury!1

So, I went to stay the night at Ingies, and the next morning we headed back to see the surgeon. We waited for a long time, and then one nurse mentioned sending us to xray, and as she went to get a form I muttered something about wondering what the point of an xray was as it doesn't show tendons anyway, and then she stepped in the room and said something about knowing it didn't make much sense, but the doc wanted me to go. Heehee!
Eventually we saw the doc, in real technicolor, and he said he needed to explore my thumb. So that meant he had to frezze my thumb, which is by far the most painful part...Ingie talked the whole time to keep me(or maybe it was herself!)distracted. Now this may gross you out, but I got to watch him pull the cut all open and push and pull things around. It was like being in anatomy class, except it was my own hand!! He showed me the part of the tendon that was still attached to the end of my thumb, and explained how the muscles in my forearm attached to the tendon had pulled the other end down into my arm somewhere. So, yes they would have to do surgery, and they'd have to cut down to find the tendon, thread it back up and attach it to the other end.
He also informed me that there is an issue with infection in flexor tendon injury/repair, but there was NO sign at all of infection, which was amazing as it had been 4 days since the injury happened. This news made me happy I was home, as far as the infection issue went. They scheduled me for surgery at 7am on the 31st, and told me about 10 times no eating or drinking past midnight on the 30th.

Then I headed over to catch the end of my friends' wedding. It was great to be there to at least se them. You should have seen all the shocked faces...not everyone knew I was was quite humerous at times!

Then, Monday arrived and my family and I headed to surgery. We arrived at 7amand then waited, and waited...then channged into the freezing cold shapeless gown, waited, slept, waited...until about 2:30pm, when they told us things were running behind(really!?) and that as it was getting late they would have to admit me for the night. That was fine, but by this time it had been 19 hours since I'd had anything to drink or eat, and I was not feeling all that great. But, no food or drink for me.
Finally at 4:30pm, a nurse named Joanna got quite annoyed that it had been that long and no-one had even thought to hook up an she did. I liked Joanne. I felt better quite quickly.
I got settled into my room, with my very odd, oh so deeply in love, middle aged frumpy roomate and friend...boy were they interesting!
Finally about 6:30 this very humerous S. African surgical assistant cami in and got me all ready to go, and off we went toward surgery. At one point, right after the RN adjusted my IV, I started getting short of breath, which was a little odd as I was not too anxiuos at all about the surgery. But, shortly after that they wheeled me away (after Ingie asked if she could "scrub in"), and the last thing I remember is them asking which thumb it was, and the anesthtist showing up with a syringe, and then I woke up in front of a nursing desk, finding it hard to wake up!!
The night went fine...I had no nasty anasthesia side affects which was wonderful after the stories I'd heard...and soon they brought me some food.Apparently I called some people to let them know how things had gone...don't remember that!!
Headed home to Westlock the next morning, got some Tylenol 3's...those are quite the invention!!

And it's been 9 days with this half cast all wrapped up so none of my coats or sweaters fit over it.It's not painful now, just quite awkward, and thoough my fingers are free, my thumb is wrapped in such a way that makes the whole hand just kinda there...not really good for much at all. Tommorrow I see the surgeon, and hopefully then I will know a bit more of a timeline.

For now, I feel frusterated at the timing...I don't really get God at all sometimes. Yet, I still know that He has a plan in all of this. I'm missing my kids a lot, as well as Haiti itself. I'm sad I missed Christmas with the kids, and seeing 6 of them get to go home. I'm sad that one of them has been really sick and I can't cuddle him. I'm sad that more kids may leave before I get to go back, and the house will be so different.
Yet, it's nice to feel rested, and clean. And to drink real milk and not find worms in the cereal, or ants in my underwear.
Now I'll just wait...

Monday, January 7, 2008

How I Made it Home for Christmas-ish...(part 2)

So...after we got back to the orphanage, we started discussing our/my options. I was quite sure that I had a tendon issue, yet was not totally sure, and thus was not very keen on the idea of flying home only to discover it was nothing. My travel insurance people could not yet confirm they would cover things, and I kept coming back to the issue of the airfare. One thing that also kept nagging me though was that the risk of infction in Haiti is quite high, as you are competing even against the water!! Then a couple emails came and some people at home told me not to be so silly as to worry about the airfare, and to get my butt on the next possible flight!!! This is also what I was gently but seriously being advised to do by those discussing things with me in Haiti.

We went to bed late, after deciding that we would pack things as if we were flying out the next day,and if we found out at the UN there was nothing significant, maybe that would change. So, after a short, itchy, sleepless night, we got up at 5:30a.m. and finished getting ready to go. I had quite the fast organizing job to do, as Kristy's delayed luggage and all its treasures were still all over my room, and as I knew I may not be around for the kids Christmas, I had to get my end of that organized. Nuts! Thankfully Christmas(as the kids liked to call Kristy) was around to help!

Then I headed up to shower. And cried the whole time. It was kinda not so fun...haven't cried like that for a long time. The thought of leaving Haiti really hurt.

I managed to get everything organized as best as I could, and it was time to go. I had to get Melinda to tell the kids what was happening, as I was too emotional. They were all really quiet and serious, and I could see many of the older kids thinking "I thought Lori said I was going to be leaving before her...". It was so weird saying goodbye and knowing that I would be coming back to a different house as at least 6 kids will be leaving before I return. I know that reality was a large source of my tears...not that I'm not happy for them, but I love them a lot and will miss their beautiful mischevious faces. After lots of hugs and re-hugs, we headed out the door.

We arrived at the UN hospital in Port, and proceeded to learn through my friend Cedieu who translated from Spanish to Creole to Melinda who made sure that I knew exactly was being said, that no, they could not see me. They asked us to get out of the truck, and back in the truck, and we waited. Kristy noted how funny all the translating was...and it was quite the sight I'm sure!!

Finally, a somewhat English speaking guy came back and said they would see me. So, off we went to this very interesting building made of a maze of panel boxes and other materials I had never seen before. It was quite neat to be in this totally temporary, sanitary modular hospital...and know that they treat some pretty intense injuries there.

This is somewhat what it looked like.

So, they took me into an examination room, where I was introduced to a Haitian interpreter who spoke English, French, Creole and Spanish completly fluently! Amazing! Some form of nursey type doctor of sorts who had a very sour expression came in and asked what had happened. After she got the story, second hand of course, she proceeded to poke and prod and bend and straighten my thumb. It hurt. She didn't notice. Or maybe didn't care. Either way it started to bleed again, and then she was a bit gentler. Humph!!

Then she called in another gal, who proceeded to follow in her colleagues painful footsteps, all the while vehemently discussing the situation with the first kind gently nursy type doctor. I was amazed at how much I understood, and knew that they were skeptical as the wound by this time looked a lot more superficial. Over the next 1 1/2 hours, I saw 4 more nursy type docs, who all hummed and hawed and poked and prodded, but seemed to come to no conclusion. At one point, they were even mixing up the flexor and extensor tendon anatomy, and then I jumped in and tried to help them out. They just looked at me and then continued speaking 3000 miles an hour in Spanish so I had no chance of understanding...I know that's what they did!

Anyway, they finally decided they could do nothing because they too were unsure if the tendon was cut, and were unable to do more than stitch it if I wanted, as I was not UN personnel. But they said they could refer me to a well-respected French hospital, which you cannot go to without a referral. We sat and waited for the referral, only to have the interpreter come back and tell us they had decided they could not even do that as I was not part of the UN. So, we had just spent almost 2 hours hoping for some direction, only to be exactly where we were before. I didn't get it stitched.

At this point the reality of needing to go home became more of a reality, and we decided to try my travel insurance company again and let then know the walls we were facing as far as getting the info they needed to cover any of the expenses. The was nice and told me to just fax the medical note from the first doctor. Just fax it. Obviously she's never been to Haiti. I had never seen a fax in Haiti, and Melinda didn't even know where to find one. But thankfully we know people, and our adoptions guy, Mathieu came through and saved the day. We managed to find this little random place that als sold hot-dogs, and for about $4.50 and 1/2hr of wait time, the fax went through. By this point we had called and gotten Kisty's mom to change our flights...she managed to get us on the 5:15 flight that night, together. Amazing. Totally a God thing.

We were checked in by 3:30 and had some wait time, so Kristy perused the gift shops for things she had missed the chance to get(and for which I will be shopping for when I get back) as her time was cut short by 4 days, and I got on the phone with the travel insurance guys...again. I have to admit that they are very nice, and the reality is that their hands are tied without documentation. Anyway, I told them that they had told me to do whatever was medically necessary, and I had tried to pursue a variety of things to get them some paperwork, but I had decided it was necessary to fly home. He was surprised a bit, but just said he hoped I got home safely and got things looked into.

And the rest of the story will be in the next installment.

How I Made it Home for Christmas-ish...

Well, I'm home in Canada for a few weeks!!! Just decided I wanted to be home for some of the holidays, and get some shopping in!!
Except the first part...I am in Canada for a few weeks...not by choice..
It was a warm, nice and not too hot, Boxing day afternoon. My friend Kristy who had come to visit over Christmas, had just finished making sugar cookies while I watched(it's a regular Christmas tradition, her baking, me watching), and we were in the midst of serving the kids supper. I was headed upstairs with a glass bowl to replenish the spaghetti supply, when I either slipped or tripped and fell forward, causing the bowl to break on the step in front of me and shatter into my hands. Somehow, I survived with only one cut on my left thumb, which was bleeding on behalf of all the other non-cuts. I ran upstairs to tend to it, and soon Pat came to see what the source of the bang had been, and started to help me. Kristy got wind that something had happened and joined us in the bathroom. And turned around and walked was gross...

After my thumb stopped bleeding, I noticed that "oh my goodness, I can't bend my thumb at the tip!!". All that physio anatomy I have stored up somewhere back there came flooding back and I immediatly thought "tendon!". After getting it all disinfected and wrapped up, I went to the computer to pull up some hand anatomy pics, and shortly confirmed my self diagnosis of a flexor tendon least as far as I could tell.

Then began the sega of contacting my travel insurance company through Kristy's mom and SKYPE, as all 3 phone options were on the blitz!

Have you ever wondered "who actually ever uses their travel insurance?". Well, now you know someone, and it's kind of a non-perfected crazy process!! Especially for people who are in third world countries!!! But, I'll leave all that for another day!!

We did discover I needed a docs report to get pre-approved travel coverage, so that encouraged us to begin to seek out a more professional opinion. The best care we knew of was at the UN base, so that's where we headed. After a barrage of questions and walkie-talkie conversations in the language of the Nepalese, they allowed us entry to the Nepalese base in Mirebalais. We were met by their doctor who looked at my thumb and honestly admitted he could not be sure, but would refer me to the surgical UN hospital in Port-au-Prince. So, surrounded by a painting of Mt. Everest covering one wall, and a Nepalese village on the other, he and his assistants disinfected my thumb again, gave me some antibiotics and painkillers and a handwritten refferel to the other UN base. I was very impressed with their kindness and sincerity in helping us...not to mention that the doctor was not too sore on the eyes!

I'll post this now, as I previously lost the longer version, and continue with the story on the next posting.