When living in Haiti, one quickly realizes that things never happen as expected. That’s why flexibility is an important personality trait for long-term personnel and visitors alike! And, it’s why Haitians have adopted a fatalistic world view, feeling that no matter what they may want in life, things happen as God wills and they have no control over it.
We had a taste of the unexpected last Tuesday, as we drove down the mountain after a very busy clinic day. It was about 5:30pm when we passed through a town called Latiboliere, halfway down the road to Jeremie. There is a nurse auxiliare who works in a clinic there, who we know well. As we passed by her house, we saw her head appear over the cement wall, arms waving wildly above her. We stopped to see what the problem was and she came running out to the truck. “A man just came to my house on horseback with a huge cut on his leg. It’s bleeding heavily and I think it’s a case for the hospital,” she said quickly. I pulled the truck over to the side of the road and Cherlie and I ran over to her house, noting the blood caked on the side of the horse the patient had ridden on to Roseline’s house. The young man was sitting on a chair with his leg propped up on the porch, a gauze pad soaked with blood covering a large, deep laceration on his lower leg. But, as I examined the wound, I realized it was not all that bad, similar, in fact, to countless lacerations I had repaired as an ER physician in Milwaukee. “If you want, I can sew it up here,” I told him and his friend. “Oh, that would be wonderful,” they said. “It will save us a trip down to Jeremie.”
Cherlie and I carry a small suitcase containing some of our supplies back and forth to our clinic and included was a “laceration kit” I had made up for just such situations. It contained everything we needed to suture a laceration, including local anesthetic. So, I quickly went to work and within a short time, the wound was closed, bleeding controlled and a bandage was applied. It turned out the patient lived not far from our clinic. So, we told him to come see us in two days so we could check his progress. And, come back he did, with his laceration looking good and beginning to heal. We had, obviously, been in the right place at the right time to help this young man and a panic-stricken nurse auxiliare. A good example of God’s perfect timing and the satisfaction of being prepared for the unexpected!