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A day after the devastating Jan. 12 quake, Rose Marguie Normil, 40, who had been buried under rubble, pleads for help outside a hospital in Port-au-Prince. Doctors said they couldn't do anything for her since they had no X-ray machines.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Months later, still in pain, Normil waits to have X-rays taken at the hospital in Grand Goave, south of Port-au-Prince. She left the capital soon after the quake and has been in constant pain and barely able to walk.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Normil looks through her papers and pictures, sitting on the wooden board someone advised her to sleep on to help ease the pain in her midsection. The plastic side to the hot tent is lifted to let in some air.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Normil puts on a brace around her midsection as she gets ready to go to church despite the pain. Her daughter, Jenny Princess, lives with her along with four other relatives in the small plastic hut.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Before going to church, Normil puts on makeup over a scar above her right eye from a wound sustained in the earthquake. A friend helps fix her hair.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Normil, a devout Catholic, makes the slow walk to church on Easter Sunday. While she was buried in the rubble, she says, she started to pray, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus..." And that gave her strength.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Normil prays on Easter Sunday at the Catholic Church in her hometown, Grand Goave.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Normil makes her way to the local hospital in Grand Goave, where she says she had been overlooked because she seems OK on the outside. But inside, she is in a lot of pain.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Normil and another patient wait to be seen by doctors at the Grand Goave hospital. She hadn't known for sure what was wrong until three months she returned to Port-au-Prince, where doctors took X-rays that revealed her pelvis fractured in two places.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Three months after the earthquake, doctors look at an X-ray of Normil's pelvis, which reveals two fractures. She was told she wouldn't need surgery as the bones were healing by themselves.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

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After the Haiti earthquake, Rose Marguie Normil sat helpless outside a hospital and waited in vain for help. Times photographer Carolyn Cole caught up with her months later and found her still in pain. But she has peace now, because at last she knows why.

Reporting from Grand Goave, Haiti — Rose Marguie Normil puts on makeup to cover the scar above her right eye. She is as beautiful as she was in December when she went to a photo studio to have her picture taken on her 40th birthday.

But inside, something is terribly wrong. Rose can’t stand without the support of crutches, and it feels like her insides are falling out.

It’s been months since she sat on the ground outside Canape Vert Hospital in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, a bloody bandage stuck to the wound above her eye. It was the day after the Jan. 12 earthquake, when she had been buried up to her neck in rubble.

The hospital was closed and there was no one to tend to the critically injured people sprawled outside, much less to Rose, who looked to be in good shape compared with them.

A rumor was spreading that a tsunami was headed toward Haiti, and everyone who was able had left in search of help or higher ground. Rose was alone, in terrible pain. As she waited for help, she prayed for the safety of her daughter Jenny Princess, who would have been on her way home from seventh-grade class when the magnitude 7.0 quake hit.

Two days and nights passed without help at the hospital. “Only the dead people were left, myself, and one girl who had a broken leg,” Rose recalls.

When friends finally found her, they took her to a military hospital, where she saw several doctors.

“They said there was nothing they could do for me because they didn’t have an X-ray machine,” she says. “They cleaned up my wound and told me to rest.”

That night, before most foreign medical teams had arrived in Haiti, family members took Rose home to Grand Goave, two hours south of the capital, where she was reunited with her daughter and now stays in a small plastic hut with five other people.

For three months she slept on a wooden board, medical advice she got somewhere along the way, and spent the days wondering whether she would ever walk again.

Rose says the doctors in her hometown seemed to dismiss her despite her complaints of constant pain. They told her there was nothing they could do, so she would leave, weeping in fear and frustration.

Finally, she made the long, bumpy ride back to Port-au-Prince, where an X-ray of her midsection was taken. It showed her pelvis broken in two places. The bones were healing slowly and surgery wouldn’t be necessary, the doctor told her.

Seeing the severity of her injuries, the patchwork of her bones, Rose started to cry. But somehow, seeing the X-ray also soothed her.

“My spirit,” she said, “is finally at peace.”

1 Comment

  1. August 29, 2010, 1:36 pm

    Carolyn. Thanks for the update, but apart from Rose's "peace" it seems like no step forward has been made. By strange fortune, she has survived but her injuries never received the treatment they required. Sad.

    Thanks for following up and putting a face and a story to one of the many victims who featured in our press 8 months ago.

    By: petebrook

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