Sunday, September 23, 2012


The funny things that are so different are scattered randomly through life here. Like, I helped push a patient from one ward to another the other day, and there were so many hills. My burning thighs felt like I was doing a massive exercise routine. Up one hill like huffing and puffing, and then down another holding the stretcher back. I wondered how far would it go if one of those stretchers got loose from the person who was supposed to be driving it during the downhill slopes? In US hospitals there are no slopes. Maybe a little bump or a slight little ramp, but elevators do all the hill climbing. Here, people do all the climbing. 

Another thing – we officially ran out of disposable surgical masks a week ago. So we went back to the MASH type green cloth ones. Everything takes a long time to dry here because it rains every day. They don’t have dryers, etc. The masks often have a funky mildew odor to them. So, this morning I went to go get one and there weren’t any in the bin. So sweet little spunky Judy, the circulating nurse, took me to show me where to find them. She then walked away with it. I followed and asked what she was doing. “Ironing it”, she said. Well, I don’t iron even for special occasions, so I didn’t get it. Ironing is just not one of my gifts. J  So I asked why. She said “Cause its wet. And to kill some bacterias”. I thought, “You just go ahead and iron it all you want then, kill all those bacterias”. I turned around and laughed as I walked off.  She ironed that mask for what must have been 5 minutes. I bet it was sterile, though still damp.

And then, there is death. Death usually isn’t funny. But this morning after rounds I walked past a taxi that was just getting ready to pull off down the road. “Taxi” doesn’t mean the same thing here that you may be used to. It means a 1970 or 1980 compact car that somehow got shipped over here to live out its final days. It also indicates enormous levels of pollution from the thick black smoke trailing behind the car. Anyhow, this little tiny blue Toyota hatchback had a well-made wooden coffin tied in under the hatch. About 2/3 of it was hanging out the back, with the back door tied onto the top of it. Well, unless that person was shoved down there wadded up at the bottom, it was way top-heavy out the back. Plus the whole car was bogged down with the load (in addition to the 6 people inside with their own loads). One little bump and that poor fellow hanging out the back was a goner. I guess he was already gone, but the thought of it just got me tickled on the walk home. I rushed to get my camera to take a discrete picture, but someone stopped me along the way, making me miss an awesome photo. I don’t care who you are, how holy, or serious, or sensitive, or whatever, you would have thought it was funny too. 

1 comment:

  1. My maid in Mozambique used to iron my underwear. I could never understand it until someone explained to me that there were tiny biting bugs that sometimes got in the clothes. So people ironed *everything* to kill the bugs. Then I didn't mind that she ironed my underwear!