Saturday, February 13, 2010

One Month Ago. . .

One month ago last night the ground shook in Haiti. At 4:53pm, Dad just got home from work and stretched out for a nap. His wife was busy gathering that night's dinner. It wasn't one of the fancy houses on the hill, but it was his. The streat was cluttered with rubble and garbage that never quite seemed to make it into a pan. Oh well, that's life in Haiti! And then an estimated at 230,000 people died.

Other elements of the Armed Forces of the United States of America were on station three days after the quake and they provided much needed immediate relief. One week after the quake, we took on our first two patients by hellicopter as soon as we were in range. Then day after day after day of gruelling work with people screaming, legs missing, broken thigh bones, crushed heads, and the list goes on.

Last night onboard COMFORT, we took a moment to reflect on that tragedy, said prayers for all the people who were so devistated by what happened. And shared stories of tragedy and triumph onboard COMFORT.

The night started with prayer and scripture reading, both in English and Creole. Then a time of sharing included the story of Isabel Rose, the baby that I talked about shortly after we arrived in Haiti. Isabel Rose was born two and half months premature to a mother who had her pelvis crushed during the earthquake. The injury caused her water to break and it was necessary to deliver the baby, both to save the mother's life, as well as to give the baby any chance at all at survival.

Isabel Rose was born through Cesarean Section and initially was doing pretty well. But as the days went by, she began to fail. She had a tube inserted to help her breathe, another one to help her eat, and an IV for fluids and medications. But she kept getting worse. Her mother was given the bad news. The Chaplain was called to pray and baptized little baby Isabel. Then the decision was made to remove her breathing tube and to keep her warm, until she passed away. So the tube came out, she was wrapped in a blanket and placed back into the incubator. Her mother, the Chaplain, and the team who had so lovingly cared for this, the first baby born on COMFORT, waited for the end.

They're still waiting. God wasn't ready for Isabel to come back to him just yet. As the minutes, then the hours, then the days passes, she kept going. She grew stronger, and bigger, and just the other day, she and her mother left COMFORT for another hospital in Haiti where little Isabel will continue to grow as her mother continues to heal.

Then the singing began. One of our line officers, LCDR Mortimer sang a moving rendition of the Navy Hymn including a special verse written to commemorate this Haitian tragedy. Then the "Joyful Noise" Choir got up and sang "This Little Light of Mine" is a way that would have made every one of their Sunday School teachers proud! Then it was the Haitian's turn. Now I don't know if they have mandatory singing training in Haiti, but I tell you what, you get a group of Haitians together, and every one of them can sing like an angel!

Now you know me. They don't call me the "frozen chosen" for nothing. I still think maybe people are overdoing it a little if they clap their hands in church. But, I tell you what! I was clappin my hands, tapin my foot, and just gettin all warm in side as our many patients joined us on the mess decks to share in this time of remembrence and celebration. It was a hoot!

I truly think things are slowly getting better in Haiti, if only the criminal element and stooges allow it to happen.

Well, I'm about to fall asleep. I haven't been sleeping terribly well for the last few days, waking up a lot during the evening. But that's OK, something tells me I'm gonna sleep like the dead tonight! Ahh the power of the little white pill! It's pretty hard to do this 30 minutes after you took an Ambien. It's all I can do to see the screen. Oh well! Have a great night.


  1. Please post an update. I have really enjoyed following your mission in Haiti. What will happen with the earthquake in Chile? Will you pull anchor and head to the other side of South America now? God bless you all for the wonderful, wonderful work you have done there. You make me proud to be an American and proud to be the wife of a former Navy doctor.

  2. No snow here in Vegas. It just been raining as cats and dogs which brings such a relief from the drought for the several years.

    Soon, John you'll be home walking the dog with your wife. Your brother says hi, and your family loves you.

    The school will be mailing you Girl Scout cookies. I bought five boxes of peanut butter cookies. Eat as many as you want. Take care of yourself :)