Now that I am back in Haiti, I continue to see people with horrible earthquake wounds and horrible stories, some of which end in tears and others in gasps of amazement.
John, a patient I treated, told me one such remarkable tale. When the earthquake hit, he was on the fourth floor of a six story building. Everything around him collapsed, but he survived in a little pocket with only his left foot buried in 2 floors worth of rubble. He tried and tried to pull it out but was unsuccessful. He called for help, but concealed as deeply as he was, no one heard him. Above him, a tiny sliver of light told him where freedom was, but he was unable to move towards it.
After three days, John heard bulldozers demolishing the building. He was terrified and, in a moment that he calls “God-driven”, he ignored the agonizing pain and dragged his crushed foot from under the blocks. But he was still stuck in his concrete cave. Mercifully, the bulldozers stopped before they reached him and John began yelling.
People responded and used sledgehammers to knock down a wall, then another wall, and finally a third wall, but they still could not reach him. Meanwhile, putting his hope in that little sliver of light, John was yelling, “Up top! Up top!” but no one could hear him clearly enough to understand. At this point in the story, John grinned at me, “And then I was so lucky,” he said. “An intelligent person came. He made everyone stop talking and he walked around pressing his ear against the walls until he could understand what I was saying. Then they all ran up top and through the little opening, they could hear me well enough to know exactly where I was and they dug me out. I am so blessed!”