One of the traditions here is to put butter on your head. Yes, butter on your head. They do it to babies. Women do it and men do it. Everyone smells a bit like butter, ranging from fresh off the teat to rancid. The other day, I smelled like butter, fresh off the teat butter. I was doing fun rounds. This is when I go chat with the patients and their families, dance with them, sing with them, walk with them, share stories and learn about who they are. It is my favorite time of the day. In one of the rooms the ladies were buttering their heads, so when I peaked my head in I told them how marvelous their buttered hair looked. They told me I needed some on my head. I tried to tell them I
already have greasy hair, but they were certain this would help my hair shine like no other. So they parted my hair all over the front and piled on the butter. It felt a bit odd finishing fun rounds and coming home with butter on my head, but no one seemed to notice. I must admit that night at the prayer meeting I was a bit distracted because as the butter warmed it dripped down my scalp and onto my face. The ladies had told me though, when it drips on your face just rub it into your skin.
The list of surgeries from the day includes things like debridement of crocodile bite.
I have been told that the most common surgery here is plastic surgery. The removal of a cross tattooed on the forehead so that the women can be house workers in Saudi Arabia. I am not sure I believe it, but it sure makes you wonder.
At night, you hear the call of the hyenas.
There are certain things in life that we consider universal signs, even though we not be right. A thumbs up is “good job!” Twirling your finger by your ear is “Crazy”. I learned a new one the other day. Take your right pointer finger and place it on the middle of your neck just below your left ear. Now drag it across your throat. Now guess. What does it mean? Let me give you a clue. In America, you may never think of this because we are so removed from the process. That is the universal sign for “meat”. And it is the perfect universal sign. No matter where you live every piece of meat comes from just that, a slaughter.
Local school sign reads, “Typinj School”. Good thing it isn’t a spelling or proof reading school or I would be real hesitant to go there.
The other day as I was sitting on a patient’s bed and talking to her. I realized that her hospital blanket seemed to move. Little movements, also known a small bugs. I continued the conversation, but grabbed the bug and tried to smash it. My fingers must be too soft because it survived the crushing of the thumb the forefinger. Next came out the nails. I decapitated him and flung him across the room. I would have put him in the trash can for a proper burial, but there aren’t any in the rooms. As I was ending the life of the little lice like creature, I continued to talk to the patient about her recovery. She had no complaints. For some reason I kept getting distracted and looking for more bugs.
A popular trend in the pants here is the holey crotch ones. I do not think it is a fashion statement. Either most pants wear out first in the crotch or they cut them. I suppose cutting them isn’t entirely out of the question. It would help keep you cool on a warm day, make the bathroom stop that much easier and with a language that requires you know the sex of the person you are talking to it sometimes helps to clarify.
One day, I was walking down the hall and a man was unconscious in his bed from a head injury. He had an IV bag of orange fluid hanging. I wondered what it might be, so I got a closer look. Bubbly, orange stuff. I couldn’t believe it, so I asked the family, “Is this Miranda (an orange pop/soda)?”. It was. I was relieved to see that the tube didn’t lead into his arm, but his nose.
Your day in the operating room is determined by the weather. Yes, the weather. All of the drapes and gowns are hand washed and then hung to dry. We have now started the rainy season. You may have 11 cases scheduled for the day, but only do 2 because there are no more gowns or drapes. There is also a nation wide shortage of gauze. Almost everyday there is something that prevents us from doing all of our cases. And no, we do not stop for things like no electricity (well, maybe in the middle of the night on an elective case) and no water.
Let me just repeat. Very few people know how old they are…