Sunday, April 19, 2009

Another day in surgery

When we finished today, after 11 hours in the chilly, sterile, beige-and-seagreen world of the operating room, the other translators and I crammed into a taxi and realized we look realllly ragged. We had many laughs at each others' expenses. (expenses? sure) But we sure clean up well. Yep, we clean up well, and then we go to bed and sleep like rocks. It feels good to do good work.
So, today: I translated for Rabi, Fatima, and Joumare. Rabi is 20, a stoic, composed young woman who stayed calm through her whole surgery, which took all morning. She barely said a word, and managed to sleep for awhile (with no extra meds). Her biggest (and best) reaction was the giant grin she flashed us when I told her that the surgery went perfectly. Yay!
Rabi was similar- she's 18, and has been through 3 previous surgeries. She knows the drill, and hardly flinched when they gave her the spinal. I was very impressed. She slept (again, no extra meds, just the spinal), so I chatted with the anesthetist about all of the different types of doctors. Rabi's surgery went very well!
Joumare is Fulani, and she speaks both Hausa and Fulfulde. She's one of the most amiable people that I know-- so easy to be around, and interested in the world, and one of those people you look forward to seeing. I met her at the beginning, when I was going around meeting all of the women; she stood out partially because of her ethnicity and appearence, but also because of how warm she was to me. I mentioned her earlier, after doing her interview. Joumare is probably in her 40s, and lives in Agadez. She has one grown son who's a tailor and jewelry maker; she's selling some of his stuff iin the hospital courtyard (it's very pretty!) Joumare's fistula started 3 months ago, after she had a hysterectomy performed. During her surgery today, we found out that the reason she was leaking urine was because whoever did her hysterectomy stapled her bladder (by accident? on purpose, stupidly?), leaving it with a bunch of holes. After a whopping 5 hours in surgery, Joumare's bladder is as good as new. Awesome! Next on the list for her: nutrition. She needs to put on a few pounds.
All of you Wisconsin family folks will appreciate the conversation Joumare and I had during her surgery-- she told me how to make cheese, Fulani style. The Fulani's are herders, milk sellers, cheese makers: she knows her cheese. Joumare rules.
Happily, all of my translations today were happy stories. I was a busy bee for awhile there; there were about two hours when both Rabi and Fatima were getting worked on, so I kept going back and forth to sit with each one. There was one rough moment this morning; when the surgeons opened up a Zarma woman on the table next to ours, they found a lot of cancer in her abdomen. They cut some of it out, but not all of it, and they weren't able to operate on her fistula. It is hard to know something like that before the person herself knows. I don't know how I would tell her that news.
What else. We had some unfortunate news this morning- the doctors may be leaving a few days early to avoid a strike that's about to happen at the airport. They're worried that if they don't leave early they'll get stuck here. I know I am biased, but I wish they would just stay...I know it would screw up their plans and schedules at home if they weren't able to leave right away, but just think of all of everything they could do here! I am dreading telling dozens of women that, in fact, they won't be getting that surgery that they were told they'd get. Not a cool situation.
Further bulletins as events warrant. In the meantime-- thank you for reading! Celebrate your health!

1 comment:

Jeff K. said...

that's interesting news on the cheese! I'll bet it's not snowing there like it is here in WI on April 21st....will Spring ever be here?