Saturday, April 01, 2006

John’s Brown Bag:

A couple Haitian Hearts patients have stopped by. We saw 27-year-old Suze yesterday. She is special to me in part because I was involved in her case from the beginning to now. My cousin, cardiologist Dennis Killian, along with surgeon Bryan Foy got her and another young woman, Katia, accepted at Provena St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet and along with John were her physicians in the U.S. I helped John get her visa, the granting of which was one of my happiest moments in Haiti, and Suze stayed with us a couple of weeks before surgery. She is a very elegant young woman who deserves more opportunity than she has in Haiti.

Because of the inequities of our situations, I feel extreme guilt when I see Suze. She knows what life is like in the United States, the unbelievable, extravagant wealth. And she knows how little she has in Haiti. I think it is difficult for her to be motivated in Haiti, now that she has seen how we live in the U.S. The catch is is that if Suze were to come to the States on a regular visa, her life would not be nearly as cush as it was when she was here as a heart patient, staying with a doctor’s family, having all of her needs and most of her wants effortlessly met. She has friends and a community here and though she probably doesn’t believe it, in some ways her life here is better than it would be as an immigrant working two minimum wage jobs in Florida.

The good news for Suze is that her health is excellent and she looks fabulous. She was so thin and sick before surgery. She has put on weight and looks really good. Before coming to the U.S., she just wanted to live. Now, she wants to live, but in the U.S. Who can blame her?

Katia, on the hand, according to Suze is ill, thin with swollen feet. Something doesn’t sound right. The plan is for Suze and her friend to pick up Katia and bring her here this morning. Katia looked good when John examined her in December, so we will see what is going on with her.

Oh, the title of this post? Well, John has this great brown satchel where he keeps all of his medical equipment. It’s made of soft, weathered leather and is the best traveling bag. It is literally his office and allows him to examine patients who stop by or find us wherever we are.

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Suze came by this morning. She left her home in Carrefour at 6 am and took four tap taps a total of three and a half hours to Katia’s home, only to find that Katia wasn’t home. She has gone to Jeremie, a town on the southern peninsula of Haiti and at least a 12 hour rough ride away. According to Katia’s mother, they have relatives there and Katia went to stay with them. Katia’s mother is going to try to get word to her that John is here and would like to examine her. On a walk to the store today, we bumped into Karen a Canadian missionary who lives year round in PAP. She had seen Katia recently. Katia told her that she wasn’t going to return to school for the second semester, but hoped to enroll in a computer course soon. As for Suze, John’s exam confirmed her appearance: she is in good health.

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