Celime is back in Haiti! Here is an account of the trip as written by Corey O'Connor from Boston who accompanied them as far as PAP and then returned to Boston. He interned with Jim Scheller in Pignon (Haiti Outreach) and saw Celime while he was there. Now that he is back in Boston, Corey, his girlfriend and his mother have been invaluable helping out and obviously have formed a bond with Celime (J) and his mother Lydia. We will need to bring him back late May for some revisionary procedures, mainly eyelids and nose.
Thanks for your support and enjoy Corey's narrative of the trip ...
I just wanted to update everyone on how everything went. I took some photos with my iPhone but I will have to send them later today. I did not take too many, it was difficult finding the time to do so. However I did get a couple of good shots.
After checking in at Logan Airport in Boston, I will be shocked if I don't end up on the 'no-fly' list. We pretty much broke every security rule possible. There was an aerosol can of Axe Body Spray, a big jar of peanut butter and probably 100 ounces of of creams. They looked at me like I was crazy and if it wasn't for J's condition I probably would have been questioned in a dark room somewhere (the letter from Shriner's meant nothing to them). I responded to the inquiries that someone else packed the bag, which is not the correct answer in the airport. They threw away all items that did not pertain to medication, mainly the peanut butter, body spray and any scented lotions that were for Lydia. They tested every cream and medication in the liquid tester to make sure that nothing was explosive. TSA was pretty nice about everything and at one point they tried to explain to Lydia that she can't take more than 3 ounces of liquids on the plane...in Spanish. I told them it's ok they are not frequent flyers. J then walked thru the metal detector which immediately went off. I emptied his pockets and they were full of change, marbles, and a hand full of other miscellaneous trinkets. I took off his belt and his pants fell to the floor and he waddled his way thru.
After repacking all of the bags we sat down for a quick bite to eat. Apparently J's digestive system works like a high octane garbage disposal and he was in the bathroom before we even got to the gate. Lydia started walking in the men's bathroom at which time I explained how bathrooms are separated which was probably peculiar to them. I caught J just as he was about to go #2 in the urinal and explained the magical automatic toilets and sinks. I think he washed his hands 4 times.
We got on the first flight and the stewardess gave him a set of pilot wings which I stuck on his shirt. He probably thought it was just part of the flight process. After the plane took off, J and L had to go to the bathroom again so I escorted them to the back of the plane (we were all the way up front) to go to the bathroom. The stewardesses then started serving drinks and we ended up standing behind them almost the entire flight to NY.
We got off the plane, retrieved our bags and started walking towards the exit of the airport. This young woman came up to us and asked if we needed a ride. She works at Children's Hospital in NY and Boston (she showed me her badge). We accepted her help and she brought us to the hotel and even offered to pay for it, but I would not let her. The hotel that was booked was in a really sketchy area in Jamaica NY and she did not want us there so she brought us to a better area closer to the airport. She was very kind and I would have been in trouble without her. Lydia crashed as soon as we got into the hotel. I helped J take a shower and get ready for bed. I got him a bucket of ice because he kept asking for it on the plane and you would of thought I gave him a bucket of candy.
The next day we got up, had breakfast and made our way to the airport. Security wasn't as bad this time, I repacked everything so that I could easily pull out all of the creams for testing. Again, J went to the bathroom about 2 more times before we got to the gate. J was obsessed with those treadmill things in the airport. I could not get him off of them. He went the right way, the wrong way, he sat down, it was like a carnival ride for him. At one point I was chasing him going the wrong direction, I probably looked ridiculous.
We sat down at the gate and almost everyone was Haitian, which I think made Lydia feel better. Everyone was asking about J and were amazed at how energetic and well behaved he was. He had this little St. Patrick's Day felt bag that he put his CD player in and a bunch of loose change. The Haitians at the gate started putting money his little bag and by the time we left he had a nice chunk of cash. It was nice to see Haitians giving to their own like that.
We got on the plane and J went to the bathroom a couple more times. Luckily we were in first class this time and the bathroom was near by. The stewardesses were great and kept bringing him cookies which didn't help the bathroom situation. At one point he had to use the stewardess and pilot's bathroom because there was someone else in the other one. He slept for some of the ride, looked at the in-flight magazines and listened to music. He was very well behaved.
We landed in PAP and somehow we were the first ones thru customs, retrieved our bags, and were out the door in under 10 minutes. I fought off the usual bag handlers and everyone telling me they were here to pick us up. Finally I found our driver, Bin Laden (no joke that was his name), and jumped in the back of a pick up with our luggage. We got to MAF and they weighed in and were on their way. It was so chaotic at MAF that I didn't even really get a chance to say goodbye to him.
We had a really great time and I would travel with him anytime, I can only hope that my kids are that well behaved someday. I think the world can learn a lot from him and his attitude. I saw him looking at himself in the mirror when we were in the bathroom and it was like it didn't even bother him. He was just happy to be alive. He was constantly looking out the windows of the airport waving at the planes going by and at one point another boy came up to him and stared for a minute. J just kept looking out the window like he wasn't even there, entranced by the activity on the runway.
On my way back thru Miami, the customs officer asked what I was doing in Haiti and I explained the story. He asked me 'how much did that cost me and the US taxpayers?'. I told him nothing and if he wasn't the man who was letting me back in the country I would have said something else.
I hope we see J again in the summer.
It has been a month since Dieufrete Celime (aka Celine due to an initial misunderstanding) arrived in Boston. News coming from the hospital has been slow due to HIPPA considerations, however here is a brief update.
After initial evaluation and cleaning of his wounds, he rather quickly underwent skin grafting. I am sure that the nutritional support from Jim and the protein supplements from Dr.Moyad helped immensely. The additional pain from the graft donor sites on his legs and stomach were not welcome to Dieufrete and this contributed to the anxiety that he has experienced. He has proven that he is a fighter and gets quite feisty with the doctors and nurses. He has had multiple procedures on his eyes, the skin contractures on his neck, hand and his lips. All this is very traumatic and not comprehensible to him. Most of the skin grafts have healed well however.
Fortunately, his mother Lydia has been at his side and he demonstrates anxiety when she isn’t. She has had difficulty adjusting to life in a Boston hospital and simple things like a trip to the cafeteria are major events. She initially avoided those magical things called elevators, but now is becoming comfortable with them. Motion controlled water taps …... imagine the stories she will be able to tell back in St.Raphael!
The loving attention of Judithe Benjamin, fellow Haitian and sister to Maseline, the nurse anesthetist who helped with his dressing changes while he was still in Pignon has been a wonderful comfort to Lydia and Dieufrete as she understands what they are going through and can communicate with them in Creole. Lisa OConnor , mother of Haiti Outreach intern, Corey as well as Corey’s girlfriend, Jacki, make up a caring and unselfish support group. Corey, who has now returned to Boston from Haiti, is also very much involved.
Dieufrete has particular affinity for a keyboard that he has fun with and Lisa recently walked into his room to find him playing Old MacDonald Had a Farm, while Lydia danced. He is now going through rehabilitation as he was weakened from the prolonged bed rest. He has plenty of toys and stimulation to keep occupied.
Jim continues to be very involved from Pignon and arranges regular telephone conversations with Dieufrete, mother and family back in Haiti. Initially Lydia was so homesick and worried about the children in Haiti she wanted to return and have Jim come and stay with Celime. Fortunately, this has subsided with the calls. Dieufrete worries a lot about his 2 year old brother.
On January 19, during the most recent team meeting at the hospital it was determined that he needed several more eyelid procedures and that it was time to initiate rehabilitation. It is currently estimated that he will be able to return to Haiti toward the end of March, or early April. He will require daily eye drops and will need to wear specialized pressure garments because of his contractures from the scarring. He will also require a face mask. We will need to make arrangements for him to return in 6 months for further assessment and treatment.
The hospital staff has been amazing and professional. They truly are special and understanding of the special needs associated with the care of this young Haitian boy, his mother and his family back in Haiti.
An update from Jim:
We arrived on time last night in Boston. The trip consisted of a gastronomical nightmare. He started off with a 1/2 lb hotdog in a pastry shell
in PAP. That was not enough. He than consumed half of my 10" Philadelphia steak and cheese with the works. All washed down with a large coke ??
After we were air born we were hungry again. Half pound chicken and cheese in a bread pocked with peppers and onions came next with a coke and a big smile followed by nap He is still getting real bad spasms in his neck. i worked on that the better part of the trip. His bandages were also way to tight so I had to cut them open mid flight to take the pressure off his ears. Last leg of the flight was the same chicken pocked only this time we gave in and quit half way thru, followed by two cokes. I can't even eat that much !!!! Mom ate good and slept the last leg of the flight. We went thru customs without a question and people did a lot of staring.
American Airlines was on top of it. wheelchairs were there, blankets pillows etc. We were picked up by Judith and her brother Roman. The camera crew and a reporter from the local paper were there also. when we arrived at shriners there were escorted to a room right away. Nurses did the usual looking at temps and pressures swabs in the mouth, nose etc. They also attempted to change his bandages without putting him under and found out he is a fighter. They quit half way thru and will finish tomorrow in the OR.
An update from Jim.
It appears we are going to be a little late getting to Boston. Dzefet wants to take the truck ( see Attach).
His mom has him all dressed up for the trip. He looks pretty sharp in those sun glasses. He insisted on holding on to the wheel on the way to the airport. He is also under the influence of narcotics !! Bandage was changes just a little while ago.
MAF should be here in a few minutes.
Updates to come