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Shortage of Hands

Posted Jan 27 2009 8:22pm
Today I walked into the labor ward to find Msiska alone with all 14 beds full and women lined up on the benches. She laughed, twirled her arms over her head and said, "Welcome, my friend." When I asked, "Who is working with you?" She said, "You are. Aren't you here?" Where to start?! Six of the 14 women had not been examined at all, a few others had been transferred from clinics due to prolonged labor but hours later they continued to moan and shift on the beds, their IV lines clogged. After the morning rounds finished the situation improved somewhat, the clinical officer, medical intern, nursing students, a medical student from Holland, and a general physician from Palestine joined the fray. By the time I left at 1:30 I had conducted one vacuum extraction, had assisted with two others, diagnosed an IUD (intrauterine demise), initiated the resuscitation of two babies, and examined a handful of patients. I had passed through the full range of emotions, walked several kilometers, discussed the effect of American/Bush's politics on the world with Ahmed, laughed with Elske about a patient calling her Oscar, and visited the quadruplets. Msiska said, "Some day I will write an article about working at Bottom - sometimes you cry, sometimes you laugh." "Sometimes you laugh so that you don't cry," I added (we all laughed). I told her this is not an article but a book. I had to leave for work at the Embassy in the afternoon but patients and referrals continued to arrive. I told Msiska we'd meet tomorrow, "I will have drowned by then," she laughed.
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