Sunday, April 19, 2009

With Sa'a

With Sa'a

Hey guys-
Just want to let you know that I'm doing alright! I'm not allowing myself to think about the awful side of things too much, because then I get upset, which isn't helpful. I keep reminding myself of that, and maybe I've already said it to you. It keeps me level.
We just got off- an extra long day. It's 7:15pm. I was in surgery all day again; I translated for Hamsatou in the morning, and Sa'a all afternoon. Hamsatou is in her mid forties, and has had fistula for over 15 years. She had two children, both stillborn. Her surgery took a really long time, but the doctors said she should see an improvement, which I guess is all that you can hope for sometimes. One thing about this surgery was that Hamsatou is from Diffa and speaks Beriberi, so I got my OWN translator, Hwanta, to help me talk with her. Hwanta is in her twenties, and is also awaiting fistula surgery. She sat with me in the frigidly cold operating room for three hours, translating Beriberi to Hausa, which I then translated to English.
Sa'a is thirty, and has three living children. Her last child did not survive childbirth, and it was after this labor that Sa'a's fistula started. I feel like I really connected with this woman. When I first called out her name, she seemed very serious and apprehensive, which obviously is to be expected. But unlike many of the other women, Sa'a asked alot of questions. About procedures, doctors, tools. And she stayed very calm throughout the whole thing- no extra pain meds, no sedative, nothing. She was totally lucid the whole time. So, of course, we chatted. She kept asking what the doctors were doing (the anesthesiologist and I rigged up a blanket across her knees so she couldn't see much). I mentioned this to the doctors, who were immediately like "Really?! Cool! Tell her this is part of her fallopian tube!!" and then held up a piece of flesh with giant tweezers. Sa'a blanched and said "I don't want them to show me!!" No kidding, Sa'a. In addition to having her fistula repaired (water tight! said the doctors), she had her tubes tied. It wasn't a procedure she was expecting before today, but this morning she talked with the doctors about the chances that any fistula repair she had done would be destroyed if she conceived again, and she agreed to having a 'tubal litigation'. I personally found it questionable that they would spring that on her and not give her time to think about it. But it's done.
After surgery I went out to tell her friend, Haoua, that she was fine. And I met her husband! He came! Isn't that cool?! I was so happy that I may have startled him with my enthusiasm. He asked me if he could bring her some yogurt (no, but still a very sweet gesture). Later I explained her meds and recovery to him, and he listened very carefully. I think Sa'a is in good hands.
I visited Sahara in recovery this morning and this afternoon, and she is feeling better than she did yesterday evening. Evidence: she joked with me about buying a sheep liver for her for dinner. And she told me I would be prettier if I had some facial scars. So yes, I think she's doing alright for now. She's in a room with 20 other recovering women, which is good for morale, and especially good for collective teasing of the translators.
Bichara and Rachida are both waiting surgery- looks like it'll be Monday. Bichara, the shyer (sp?) one has warmed up to me a ton, and I can get her giggling in no time now. Rachida is cute as ever and tried to follow me into a restricted area today...oops.

3 comments:

Marilyn said...

I am so happy she had her husband there! All of this is so intense to go through without family, so hooray for them :) I have really been enjoying these updates, it breaks my heart but it make me feel really proud of you too! I am sending your site (with info for raising money for the school) to any friends and coworkers I can think of, trying to help. LOVE YOU!! You are amazing.

JessicaBliss said...

Thank you Mame!!!! I appreciate that so much. Let anyone and everyone know. I sent a letter your way on Friday; it should be there soon 'cos I sent it with a visiting American lady.

I love you too bambina!

Marilyn said...

Did you get my most recent letter?? I am never sure if they get there or not....I will just send another just in case :) Today is the Boston Marathon...26,000 people running together WOW! Wish you were here to watch with me. xo