Friday, 25 May 2012

25th May 2012

The lady who bled, had an eclamptic fit and a blood sugar that went off the scale, survived and has now gone home with her healthy looking baby and one unit of my blood.

After a long day at the health centre, I was approached to ask me if I would take an 11-year old boy back to the hospital as he had fallen out of a tree whilst picking mangos. This is quite a common accident at this time of year and sadly, a boy died in Gimbie just last week having had a similar mango tree incident. I explained that my priority was to take the pregnant woman back with me but I would see whether we could take both. There are a few problems that always arise when giving a lift to people; 1) most Ethiopians are not used to car travel and so they vomit after an hour or so; 2) everyone wants to bring an assortment of relatives with them and they get cross when you won’t overfill the car (and I really mean overfill); and 3) you never quite know whether the person will go into to labour along the bumpy journey – or in the case of a sick person, whether they will die along the way. Now no-one, not least of all a faranji, wants to be caught with a recently deceased Ethiopian in their car. Try explaining that to the police, or worse still, the angry mob brigade that rule the villages when the police can’t do anything.

So I wasn’t really too happy about the prospect of transporting a sick child who had broken his leg and smashed up his face. On examination, he looked OK, although in considerable pain. They had bandaged his leg up but this didn’t seem to provide a great deal of support. His face had swollen up like a balloon and I think his teeth had been bashed out. I asked whether they knew if he had sustained a head, or perhaps worse still, a neck injury. ‘It’s just his leg’, the nurse replied. Hmmm, so why is his face swollen then? ‘Did he hurt his neck?’ I asked. ‘yes’ came the reply – ‘but it’s his leg that’s the problem’ he added. I did try to explain that his neck might be a little more important if he had broken it as he might stop breathing. “oh no” says the nurse as he pulls down the blanket from his chest. “look, he is breathing fine”. Oh dear oh dear. What’s the point, I wonder. I asked whether there might be any form of protection that I could have for his neck for the bumpy journey but as you might imagine, this request was met with a negative response. No such thing as ‘assume the neck is broken until radiological evidence has proven otherwise’.

Now the really annoying thing is that some bright spark had decided to take it upon themselves to send my pregnant woman off home as now the boy was taking priority. Whose priority??? In Ethiopia, women are placed fairly low down in the importance list and certainly appear to be lower than a male boy. I was, as you might imagine, really cross that they had made decisions about my transport. Unfortunately, she had already left, having been waiting all day for my lift to the hospital.  Grrrrrrrr.

My answer to whether the boy’s neck was broken was soon answered as the family carried him, neck hanging down, to the car. If it was broken, that would have ensured instant death. So I bumped him along, trying to ignore the occasional scream of pain, to the hospital. He made it there and presumably received appropriate treatment. The moral of the story is that fruit is not always good for you.

The good part of the above story is that the pregnant woman did manage to get transport the following day and turned up at the hospital. She’s going to be induced today as she had previous 2 stillbirths and is very short.

 In my role as ambulance driver I often take women back home from the hospital. This was the lady with placenta praevia - lucky to have been spotted using my super duper portable ultrasound scan 

I arrived back at the house this morning, having picked up our leg of lamb from a friend’s freezer, to find two hospital gardeners chopping down our banana trees. The trees now have considerable fruit on them and presumably they felt that they had the right to take it. Well, as you might imagine, I thought otherwise. After much talking through Makabe as translator, it turns out that they have some agreement – with whom, no-body could quite establish – that they chop the bananas down, give the hospital a pittance for them and then someone sells them at a profit outside of the hospital. Since we pay for the gardener who tends them with our metered water, and since they are in our garden, we decided to object to this. I asked whether they felt they had the right to chop any hospital resident’s fruit trees down. ‘oh no’ they say, ‘we only chop the faranji’s trees down’. Well I was now very annoyed by this level of faranji abuse and so decided to call the hospital administrator to sort things out. They weren’t taking any notice, however, and continued to chop until Jeremy shouted at them. Yes, he can shout when he wants to and it had the desired effect. They have now been sent on their way by the administrator and been told that they cannot take our fruit for their own gain. Apparently things will be looked into further as there is also some dodgy dealing going on with the hospital garden, where the vegetables are being taken, and presumably sold, instead of being brought to the kitchen. It’s the complete lack of understanding of what is acceptable and what is not that is so mystifying. I asked Makabe whether they would take her fruit from her garden. ‘Oh no, definitely not’ she replied, adding that it was not acceptable for them to do whet they did. The only words for it is ‘faranji abuse’.

1 comment:

  1. Robert in Hong Kong. Amazing stories, fascinating place. Are you contactable? email if possible.