Saturday, 5 November 2011

4th November

Having re-inserted Jaba’s nasogastric tube this evening – he is so lively that he pulls it out every now and again – I turned round to see that the nurses had placed a recently delivered stilborn baby, wrapped in a plastic bag, in the weighing scales. Here the baby stayed for the next 30 minutes or so that I was in the room. However, the mother of the baby was also in the room, lying on the delivery couch, still covered in blood. So both she and I were left staring at her plastic wrapped baby wondering exactly why the nurse not only felt the need to weigh the baby, but also thought it would be OK to leave him there on full view. This attitude towards life and death is something that is really quite difficult to comprehend but something witnessed almost every day. Early on in the day, a woman’s baby died shortly after birth and when the woman started to cry, having been shown her baby, she was told by the nurse to stop crying as she would soon have another baby and that one would be just fine. Such confidence is hard to acknowledge when all around there is evidence to the contrary. Full term babies should, largely speaking, not die but yet they do. So why would you be so certain that the next one is going to be fine?
Having inserted the NG tube and noticed that baby Jaba had not been fed for the past 5 hours – it’s little wonder he doesn’t gain weight – I asked one of the midwife students to feed him whilst I got his bed ready (tried, unsuccessfully, to find a clean blanket). As usual, the hot water bottles that keep him warm were cold and so I went to boil the kettle in the store room, only to see something jump from the stove and run under the bed. I put the kettle on to boil and went back to find my torch (you always need a torch to walk around at night as the lighting is quite poor and you never know what animal/insect might be lurking). Sure enough, there was a 5-inch rat scuttling around in the room. I told the nurses and quickly left the ward……

This evening we ate some Jack fruit – a most ugly looking fruit with a melon like taste and a sticky texture that makes me wonder whether it is the key constituent of blue tack. Even after washing my hands, the stickiness remained. I was going to give the vast quantity of remains to the chickens but think that it may stick their beaks together.


  1. Karen,

    Nice stories. I will have to read them to my grand-daughter at bedtime.

    Did you not think the rat might be a good protein source?

    Keep up the good work. Are you counting the days?

    David & Laurie

  2. I guess the attitude towards life and death is one way of coping. My friend went to a village in south Iran (which is deprived but not anywhere near as where you are) to practice medicine. He asks this patient "how many babies have you had?" she starts counting with her fingers and mumbling.. 6 alive, 4 dead at birth, 2 died later....that makes it 12. He says, surprised, "I'm really sorry, why did they die?" She looks at him as if he is sompletely insane and says in the local dialect: "What are you sorry about stupid young man, some babies die, some babies live, have your parents not taught you anything?"

  3. I commend you and Jeremy for doing this, but OMG!!!!! I had a life like that in Vietnam, but give me civilization!!! Don't know if I would be as tolerant as the two of you!

  4. It can be tough at time, but the challenges are in some ways exciting. All in all I would say that we are having a 'good' time - if that is the right word to describe it. It's certainly different but it is very stimulating.
    Thanks for reading the blogs and commenting - it's nice to have you all there
    Karen xxx