Monday, August 6, 2012


Thursday, August 2, 6:15 a.m.
The soft ringing of Jason’s cell phone alarm penetrates through to my consciousness and I slowly open my eyes. It’s Thursday, August 2, and we’ve been back in Haiti for less than five days. After the initial rosy feelings of being ‘home at last’ faded, reality quickly set in. The water pump didn’t work, generator couldn’t start, city power wouldn’t turn on, the cupboards were bare, we couldn’t stop sweating and instead of resting at night I killed cockroaches with my flip flops.  

Just when I felt like complaining, Palo and Wilson, neighbour boys, came knocking on the gate at 8:00 p.m. saying they hadn’t eaten all day. I was ashamed. Here I was stressing about the fact that I couldn’t wash my hands and that we had to limit our use of fans to conserve power, and these two boys hadn’t eaten anythingall day. Together with Jayden I quickly made peanut butter sandwiches and passed them through the gate to the hungry boys.

Pausing my thought stream, I sleepily turn over and watch Jason brush his teeth in the adjacent bathroom. Just then, another sound registers. Something is wrong. I sit up. What is that? Someone is screaming. No wait, wailing. Not just one person, but two. I sit up. “Jezi, Jezi.” (Jesus, Jesus) “Jocemine, Jocemine.” My heart skips a beat. It’s Anoud and Denise. Did they wake up to find their 3 year old daughter dead?

Wide awake now, I jump out of bed. A second later a panicked Denise is standing by our bedroom window. “Madam Jason.” She sobs “Vini.” (Come). “Jocemine.” She lets out another ragged sob.

“Nap vini.” (We’re coming). I yell, and together with Jason I race through the kitchen door and into the courtyard. Dawn is still breaking as we make our way to the bedroom where Jocemine sleeps. Inside, Anoud is holding the limp child in his arms. She moans. I let out a sigh of relief. She’s alive.

“Mete li andan.” (Take her inside.) I motion for them to follow me and we lay her down on the couch. She continues to moan as Jason checks her pulse. Her heart rate is up, but no fever. “Vomi”(Vomit) she keeps moaning. I hand Denise a bucket and she encourages her to throw up but nothing happens. Still panicked, Denise continues to alternate between crying and praying.

“She was fine last night and all through the night.” Denise tells us between her tears. “She just woke up like this.”

I make a mental list of her symptoms. Limpness, nausea, slightly elevated heart rate, and an unwillingness or inability to open her eyes.

“Maybe she’s having a nightmare?” I turn to Jason and he nods. “Let’s try to distract her and calm her down.” I motion to Jayden who is sitting wide eyed on the tile floor and instruct him to get a few stuffed animals from his room. He meekly obeys. “Grab a lollipop out of the cupboard,” I tell Jason, but neither the toy nor candy make any impact on the moaning, limp child.   

“Eske ou vle sote lopital avec li?” (Do you want to go to the hospital with her?) I ask Denise and she nods. Grabbing water bottles, a couple granola bars, a towel and a bucket, I ready the car.  Jason recommends Canopy Verte Hospital and shows me a quick map of where it’s located before leaving for the airport. I have been there twice before for blood tests during my pregnancy but navigation was never my strong point and my internal gps now feels like it’s covered in 7 months worth of cobwebs.  

Praying to God to help us find it, I navigate the still quiet streets. On the way, Jocemine starts to retch and pulling over I quickly hand Denise the towel and bucket. A half an hour later we reach our destination without a single wrong turn and pull into the deserted parking lot.  Inside we are told by the man at a desk that there are no doctors to help us.

“What? This is one of the main hospitals in Port au Prince and you don’t have any doctors?” I question. 

“No, sorry,” he replies. 

I shake my head. What now?  

“I know a little clinic in Pettionville that I went to with Nicholas 5 years ago,” Denise pipes up. “Maybe it’s still there.” 

“Do you know how to get there?” 

“No but we can ask.” 

“Okay.” I respond, silently praying we won’t get hopelessly lost.  

Stopping several times for directions we finally reach what looks like a pharmacy. We walk through a narrow hallway into an already full waiting room. “Clinic opens at 8:00,” a man says, holding a small child. It’s 7:55, so we find a spot to sit.

“I need to go home to Justin.” I now tell Denise. Our first visitor of this term, Nadia, had just arrived the afternoon before and is babysitting the two boys at home. Since I didn’t have any formula to leave with her, I can’t stay away too long. Denise nods, and I discreetly hand her some US cash. Once she has what she thinks is enough, I instruct her to call me for pickup when she’s done. 

“I can take a tap tap home,” she tells me. “Or you can call me for pickup!” I smile and she nods.

Back at home, I anxiously wait with my phone in my pocket. It never rings. At 12:30 there’s a knock on the gate. Denise and Jocemine are back. Looking out the window I watch as Jocemine walks up the stairs by herself. Once in the courtyard she quickly helps herself to crackers and water. 

“At the first clinic the Doctor had no idea what was wrong, so he sent me to another Doctor.” Denise tells me. “The second Doctor said she was probably anemic, and gave me anti nausea pills and a prescription for some vitamins with iron.”

I’m pretty sure you don’t wake up one morning anemic,” I reply, “But she’s looking better now!” I squeeze Jocemine’s hand and she smiles.

Back inside, I wipe the sweat from my forehead as I get back to work.  The single fan in the playroom does little to cool my constantly sweating body, the water’s still not running and we’re still waiting for groceries, but my outlook has changed.

“Minor―all minor,” I tell myself, “It really all just boils down to your perspective. Jocemine is alive and well! Thank God!”

No comments:

Post a Comment