Thursday, March 29, 2007

A good reason to stay healthy

March 28

Visited my first hospital in Africa today. Wanted to get sick in the small blue pails that were littered everywhere. Some held food, other feces, other stuff I don’t want to know about.

There were people everywhere; in beds, on windowsills, on mattresses by the beds, on blankets beside the mattresses and some were just sitting on the floor.

The doctors sat at desks in the middle of the room. The air stood still while nurses in crisp green uniforms bustled from bed to bed.

A woman moaned in the corner, another breastfed an infant on the floor.

I saw brown, dirty handprints on the wall and had to lean against the wall not to lose my balance.

I saw one patient changing her own bed. Another stretched and grimaced as she moved her blue pail away from her head.

A colleague and I picked our way through the bodies in various states of life and death, and sat at the end of a long bench of a women waiting for a bed or waiting to see the doctor. We were waiting for an interview. A trivial request, really.

My resilience to remain healthy in Africa has been fortified and my aversion to hospitals intensified. T.

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