Friday, April 17, 2009

What Sahara went through

Today was alright. I translated for my first surgery. The doctors are doing all of the most complicated surgeries first, so the women have more time to heal while the doctors are still here. So I got in at 8 and right away jumped into surgery clothes (scrubs, plus funny hairnet and boot covers and face mask and goggles), and brought Sahara in for surgery. Her story, the more I think about it, brings up red hot anger from the pit of my belly, and I despise whoever did this to her. She's probably about 15 years old. She was married at age 10. She was pregnant and had her baby at age 12. Her labor lasted five days; her child didn't survive childbirth. And she was left with a gaping hole from which she leaked feces and urine, as well as damaged nerves in her left leg. I hate thinking about what she went through.
So that is the worst part. The best part is that three months ago, she came to Niamey (all by herself, no family with her, not to mention her husband. Where is he? Does he even know what happened to her? Does he care? I'm sorry to lash out like this, but not sorry enough to not do it. Where is her family?). And today, three surgeons performed surgery on her for five hours-- they took some muscle from her leg and used it form a 'sling' that will hold her urethra up so she won't leak (which they accessed through the vagina and a hole they cut in her abdomen), and then they cut out a bunch of scar tissue and reconstructed her rectum. They said that everything went as well as they could have hoped, and are confident that she will see a major improvement. They gave her an epidural, so she was only numb from the waist down. For the first hour she was really anxious (so was I), and it didn't help that we had no sheet to keep us from seeing what the doctors were doing. She started to get more panicky, so I asked her if she'd like to be more sedated, which she did. The anesthesiologist gave her some meds to keep her drowsy. I stayed with her, anyway, because every once in awhile she would be more lucid and I didn't want her to feel alone. Now she's in the recovery room, on lots of pain meds, with an ice-pack I made out of three bags of frozen juice. Please send Sahara some comfort and some love.
After surgery I went back to our little meeting room and laid down for a long time. Eventually I went back out to talk with some of the women awaiting surgery, many of whom are making stacks upon stacks of beaded bracelets while they wait. I will buy tons and tons of them, to bring home and give to you all, who are helping by just thinking of us over here.
And that is what I did today.