Vasectomy Haiti: Mission Objective Town of Plaisance
August 24, 2015
We awoke to our first full day in Haiti with the plan to drive two hours to the mountain village of Plaisance to perform vasectomy procedures. We assembled in the hotel restaurant, checked our email, and had petite dejeuner (breakfast) of fruit, omelets and coffee.
Previous article: Base Camp Hotel Roi Du Christophe
Allow me to share insight on coffee and travel. It is an interesting conundrum that the places in the world known for producing the best coffee usually serve the worst tasting coffee in their restaurants! It takes like crap. I believe they only serve instant coffee. Why is this?
Perhaps Starbucks buys all the good stuff. These countries, understandably, would rather sell it to other countries at a premium rather than serve it at home. I am constantly disappointed by the horrible coffee served in areas known to grow the best coffee in the world!
After petite dejeuner, we gathered in the parking lot of the hotel to pack up our car. As we were packing several Haitian women approached us to sell whatever commodity they had to sell on that particular day. Haitian women are amazing. They are fit, strong, determined, and indelible. They can carry large amounts of weight and they do so by carrying it precariously balanced on their head. Human neck muscles are some of the strongest muscles in the body.
One woman was selling cashews. Another was selling young coconuts. I left to take a bathroom break and when I returned every one was drinking out of coconuts with the tops chopped off. This woman was chopping the tops of the coconuts with a sharp machete, allowing them to drink the juice, and then splitting the coconuts so the they could eat the fresh coconut meat. It seemed like a comical site…an older woman uttering some language we could not understand, wielding a sharp machete, and busting these coconuts open for a few coins.
I passed on the coconut juice because I was never fond of coconut juice. You always expect it to taste like pina colada but it never does. Coconut meat is just okay. If I was on the show “Naked and Afraid” I would eat coconuts all day long but I was neither naked nor afraid but I was full from breakfast. I just watched the vasectomy team have fun with the coconuts. There is a vasectomy joke in this story somewhere.
Vasectomy Team departs for Plaisance
Our seven-person team loaded into a Toyota diesel SUV for what I though would be an easy drive to the vasectomy site.
We passed the airport as we ascended into the mountains. The entire airport was enclosed by a 14 foot wall. On the top of the wall were empty poles. We were informed several hundred solar panels and batteries had been installed to provide electricity to the airport. Soon after they were installed they were stolen. Someone just climbed up the poles, removed the panels, and that was that. Again violent crime is minimal in Haiti but petty theft…especially in the dark of night is very common.
“I am a doctor and vomiting does not phase me…as long as I don’t have to look at it. Vomit, pee, blood, coughing, gagging, defecation, and farting…these are all naturally processes to me. No sympathy emanates from me… just don’t get it on me and we’re good.””
– Haiti Vasectomy: No Reservations
Not an easy drive to Plaisance
The drive was anything but easy. Sections of the road were paved but with numerous potholes. Most of the road was unpaved with deep gravel lined puddles. It was less of a drive and more of a tortuous snake route. Dr. Shu, poor guy, threw up. He blamed it on too much oil in his omelet mixed with the coconut milk he had recently consumed. I think it was because he did not get enough sleep because of my snoring.
Thankfully for Dr. Shu, Dr. Stein had a vomit bag. When Dr. Shu started gagging, Dr. Stein reaches into his bag and pulls out one of those old-school airplane vomit bags and gives it to Dr. Shu just in the nick of time. Meanwhile some poor lady is throwing up on Delta somewhere 20,000 feet above Oklahoma and can’t find the vomit bag that is supposed to be in the seat pocket in front of her seat.
Vomit and Dr. Stein’s magical fanny pack!
Dr. Stein is a pretty amazing guy. He always wears this little fanny pack even though he knows it is a bit dated. He has everything in that little fanny pack. He is like a magician…”Watch me pull “X” out of my fanny pack!”
Over the last several mission trips these are all the items I have seen him pull out of the little pack: a vomit bag, scissors, tape of several different varieties, surgical eye loupes, wrenchs for the vasectomy air injectors, needles, pens, markers, a pharmacy of lidocaine, various other medications which urologist prescribe often but I shall not name, chondroitin, ibuprofen, Tylenol, he has many more as yet unidentified pills and comes close to rivaling Walgreens, honey (several packs), pens, paper, cell phone, camera, food coloring, vasectomy brochures, silk suture, and the list goes on. If you need it then just ask Doug Stein and chances are he has it tucked inside his fanny pack.
As Dr. Shu continued to vomit coconut milk and oily eggs without stopping, I looked at the life we passed as we climbed up the hill. I am a doctor and vomiting does not phase me…as long as I don’t have to look at it. Vomit, pee, blood, coughing, gagging, defecation, and farting…these are all naturally processes to me. No sympathy emanates from me… just don’t get it on me and we’re good. I can look at everything except I prefer not to look at vomit. These are all natural processes that you just have to get through and you will be all right in the end.
Daily Haitian routine: Survival!
I saw countless numbers of people going about their daily lives. Many of them were just sitting and looking into the distance. I guess this is what you do when you don’t have TV or electricity and it is too hot to sit inside.
I saw topless women in the doorways…real National Geographic type stuff. Men asleep on the bare ground. I saw shoeless kids kicking cans and excuses for balls. Women seemed to be doing most of the work..they were all carrying things on their head and I mean heavy things. They were working and cooking on charcoal fires by the side of the road. Everywhere a stream crossed the road there were woman and children washing clothes. The women seemed to be the only ones working.
Haiti is a dirty country…even the water is dirty. Amazingly many Haitians have the cleanest clothes I have every seen. I found myself wondering how can you wash a white shirt in a dirty, muddy, stream and manage to keep it looking white and pure. The Haitians sure knew how to do it.
Dr. Shu eventually stopped throwing his guts up and we pressed forward weaving side-to-side on the mountain road. Up into the hills we went and after about two hours of extremely rough driving we arrived at our ‘vasectomy office’ to begin a long day’s work.
About the Author Dr Monteith
Dr. Monteith is a microsurgeon who performs tubal ligation reversal and vasectomy reversal in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Dr. Monteith also performs No-scalpel vasectomy. Dr. Monteith participated in a July 2015 vasectomy mission trip to Haiti. His first article is Vasectomy Haiti: No Reservations
If you would like to support vasectomy in the developing world you can do so through the NSVI website: No-Scalpel Vasectomy International
For a mere $45 you can provide a man in the developing world with a vasectomy procedure.