A Day Through My Eyes

…which were not able to focus very well this morning.  Mali’s grandmother had made a generous donation of a bunch of reading glasses when she went home, and Mali and I decided to each wear a pair on the way to work.  The pair I had was so strong that I had trouble focusing on anything, hence my route became slightly curvier than usual, as I tripped my way to clinic in Mali’s footsteps. 

Upon entering the gate at clinic and after removing my eye aides so that I could actually see again, I took in the sight of a rather-small-for-a-Friday crowd. 

Standing to one side was a young gentleman named Reginald that I know from the school here.  He had come to ask for a bandage for his knee that was sore from their football match the day before.  Aylég’s school played one of the neighboring schools in a game that ended with one team having scored one point, and the other none.

….We lost, and no, I don’t really want to talk about it.

Anyway, after greeting another young player who informed me that his whole body hurt, but that he couldn’t take any pain pills for it because when he swallows pills they get stuck in his throat, I moved on toward the clinic door. 

While passing through the crowd, a rendezvous card was shoved into my hand from a young woman who I had wanted to see Doctor Felix.  Since he wasn’t able to make it up this week, I went ahead and called her in to ask her if she would mind coming back in a week to try again.  Thankfully, she was very understanding and sweet about it, and I was able to send her back on her way shortly thereafter.

From there, I moved out to the blood pressure desk, where I had a single patient waiting for me that had somehow managed to slip in in front of the crowd.  Her name is Elian, and she lives with our neighbor Madam Moise, who doubles as the area witch doctor.  Elian’s position with her gives her enough leverage in the community that few people will try to stop her from doing what she wants.  And what she generally seems to want is to be rather careless about following her blood pressure appointments.  She was actually here on the date that she was given for once, so I was still a bit proud of her, even if she did sneak in early and not pay a dime to Direk.

Our morning devotional out front was done shortly after she left, and our day began in earnest.

While working through my short line of blood pressure people (I’m not sure, but I think the other half of the people that I had marked down for today must have gone to market instead), one little old lady was describing a Small Something that was wrong with her neck.  She described it as a little thing that danced in the side of her neck, and was happy to illustrate the dance moves using her fingers.  She was such an adorable little thing, in her red mouchwa and plaid jumper, with her tiny fingers waving around as she attempted to describe her problem, that I could hardly hold my grin back.

After working my morning blood pressure program people through, I decided to chip in and help with a few consultation people, since Mis Marquis was gone for the day.

My first patient that I saw was here because she had “sezisman” (basically, that means…um… I’m not really sure how to say it in English.  Emotional distress/turmoil/stress?).  Her brother had passed away on Tuesday, from what they were told was cholera, at a neighboring hospital who’s cholera treatment is….shall we say…somewhat lacking?  She was apparently in some sort of disagreement with the person who had diagnosed him, since she told me that he didn’t actually have cholera.  She had come to us today because she was in pain.  It’s not uncommon to see people here not long after a family member passed away, in pain and sore after all that happens at the funeral, with blood pressure crazy high, and the headache to go along with it.

After prescribing her meds, I squeezed her hand and told her how sorry I was about her brother.  Her eyes welled with tears as she told me, “BonDye konnen.”.

God knows. 

And He does.   He always does.  He knows so much better than we do from our infinitesimal viewpoint here on earth. 

I walked out of the room to see that another blood pressure person had decided to show up too, so I walked over to take care of him.  He was an older gentleman, and when I bent over to take his blood pressure, I noted his glasses case in his front pocket.  Tears instantaneously sprang to my eyes, as a wave of emotion washed over me.  My daddy has a glasses case almost exactly like that one, and I suddenly found myself missing him so badly that my whole chest ached.

It’s funny, sometimes, the way something can just hit you out of nowhere like that. 

Today, I squared my shoulders, blinked back the tears, and shoved the emotions down where they belonged again, then smiled at the gentleman and told him that I liked his case, since it reminded me of my dad and the one he had.  His surprise as he pulled it out his pocket and stared at it with new respect in his eyes was enough to make my smile genuine.

I walked back into the exam room to find that Whit had pulled back another friend of ours.  A man and his young daughter, who has been having some respiratory trouble this week.  We got to know their family, and this nine month old baby in particular, when they were staying here with another son who was sick for nearly a week.  He kept telling me yesterday that he has four sons, but this is his only daughter, and he is clearly quite attached to her. 

He doesn’t have any money to pay us for what we’re doing for them, but he consistently brings gifts of food for us when he comes.  Today was a beautiful sack of yams, and he told me that when he comes back he wants to bring watercress so that we can make a salad. 

He’s convinced the baby would have died if we hadn’t helped them make a trip out to town last week, and he is now eternally grateful. 

The young sixteen year old girl that we had done a paracentesis on a few weeks ago was also around, as she had been given a rendezvous to come see the doctor today for another paracentesis.  Clearly, that didn’t work out, so Whit refilled her meds and told them to try again next week, then attempted to send them on their way. 

I say attempted because this particular girl and her mother are….rather attached to our clinic, it would seem.  They never want to leave.  We’ve had a hard time getting them out of here every time they come back, and today was no different. 

The mule that she had arrived on was still in the vicinity for a while, until I finished bandaging her ten year old younger sister.  She had apparently stumbled and sat down a little hard on something a little sharp, as she had a fair-sized scrape on a part of her anatomy that made sitting down rather painful. 

I bandaged her up, packed up some bandage supplies to send home with her, and went out to tell them all that they could go home.  They all nodded sweetly and said that they were just waiting for the swelling in the older girls feet to go down a bit before they left.  I told that was fine, but that they needed to head home before long, since they should be home before dark.  

I went back inside, and when I came back out less than ten minutes later, the younger daughter was gone.  When I asked where she was, they said she had left for home.  A shot of panic flew through my mind as I calmly inquired as to the whereabouts of the beast.  When they told me it was gone, I sighed and went to tell Whit the bad news. 

The rest of the day was rather uneventful, and we actually had time to help Donny and David work on painting the doors and window bars for the church in the afternoon.  It was youth night, and we were having cupcakes in honor of our dear Whitney’s birthday, which was Thursday.  The cupcake decorating was a joint effort of…nearly all of us.  To say they looked interesting and kinda cute would be…kind. :o)

We were just getting ready to sit down for the meal, when a knock sent me jogging out to the gate.  A young man was cut and waiting for a nurse at clinic. 

When Whitney, Hans and I arrived, we discovered that it was in fact one of the young professors at the school here, who also attends church with us.  Apparently some kid had thought it would be cool to chuck a rock at his head and then run away, leaving Emanuel with a not-very-long-but-quite-deep gash on his temple and a throbbing headache.  Whit stitched him up, and sent them back on their way, and we followed them out the door and headed home to our own waiting meal.

Well, today has turned into tomorrow, as I was simply too sleepy to finish this up last night.  I’m on call today, and when I went down to check on a couple other patients this morning, the girl and her mother were still there.  I told them that they absolutely have to leave today, as I plan to lock the outside gate up as soon as our other two patients down there leave for home.

They just blinked at me. 

So I sighed, repeated that they HAVE to go home, and retreated home for brunch.

…some battles I just can’t seem to win.


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