I have traveled to the opposite side of the world. In doing so have made many friends for life on this trip. My room mate Dr. Wendy Delaney (she is one of the Pediatricians) is the only one I had met prior to the trip. We only live about an hour apart. We just met a few weeks ago when we had coffee and I attended her Rotary club’s weekly meeting. She is a fellow Rotarian with the Rotary club of South Forsyth. I am with the Rotary club of Etowah. We are both District 6910.
Wendy and I are SCARY alike.
The time change has been difficult on us. We are barely able to stay awake through dinner and up at 3am. We were both awake, and obviously thinking about the exact same thing, at 3am this morning. I don’t think ahead of time about what I’m going to write. It just kinda comes out. I was thinking about how we as Americans take so much for granted and so was Wendy. What she posted in the comment section of this blog deserves a more prominent place. So today, I will copy and paste Wendy’s words, because she said it better than I ever could…
Rommie – it is 3:25 am and for what is now the 4th morning in a row … My internal clock has told me it is time to get up. Subsequently, I took the time to get caught up on your posts. Amazing! You take 16 hours of the most grueling, emotionally and physically demanding day and are able to clarify it with one salient moment that captures the essence of what we are trying to accomplish here. I am humbled by this experience. I am struggling to work within the limits of what we have to provide the optimal outcome for each and every child. I feel as if each one is my very own child and anything less is unacceptable. I have heard repeatedly from team-mates ,,, “Dorothy, we aren’t in Kansas anymore” and it is so true. We gripe in the US because we have a copay, we have to wait 1 hr to see the doctor, because the doctor won’t give us what we want when we want it, because we don’t have a private hospital room or the hospital food sucks. But in Dhaka, they are happy for scraps. They don’t complain because there are 60 children on an open ward (with 2+ family members crammed in a small twin bed with them) and only 3-4 nurses. They don’t complain that they have to provide their own meals (except for the giant bowl of gruel that is proudly passed around each night), that they provide their own sheets, or that they have to provide all their own nursing care including medication administration, and cleaning/tending/consoling of their child. What happens to parents who have to work and can’t just come and sit day and night ? – well, they just don’t come! They don’t complain that they share their open ward with a ferrel cat, geckos, and more cockroaches than I care to think about. They don’t complain that there is no air-conditioning and only a few random fans that actually work and it is 90+ oF. They don’t complain that the lighting is so bad that you can hardly see the layers of refuse, dust and grim that coat everything in this place or about the rust that covers every surface of the 40 yr old iron bed that their child is laying on that tilts awkwardly to one side (and safety side rails … what they heck are those?). They don’t complain as the hold their child’s IV bag over their heads for hours in order for them to take their child out to the open air hallway to get some “fresh” (by that I mean polluted but less stagnant and rancid) air. They don’t complain that they have traveled 5 hrs, wait all day to be evaluated, and are told at the end of the day that they must wait for another 6 -12 hours in order for a charity bed to become available. Instead, they are overjoyed that their child will have a chance to not be a Monster. They are ecstatic that their child will actually have an opportunity to be a wife/husband, have a family and job of their own rather than be an outcast or freakish beggar on the street like so many other Bengali unfortunates born with physical deformities. They don’t complain about the dead and dying all around them … They are just thankful that for today, it is not their child.
So, today as things may not go as planned, as I am frustrated repeatedly, as I am thwarted by inefficiency and by my own short-comings as a person and a Doctor … I will remember these people and how grateful they are. I couldn’t agree more with You – I am humbled by these people and I ALWAYS receive much more than I ever give.
So, as I make rounds with the team in the next few hours, i will remind myself again …We (I) make a difference, but not just in individual smiles … we provide HOPE – a commodity in Bangladesh that is often in very short supply.
Wendy has the ability to put into words what I have to block out on this mission or I couldn’t function. I think it’s impossible to paint the complete picture of what we are dealing with here. You have to see it, be in it, to really understand it. Even then, it is simply unfathomable to us at times.
I thank Wendy, for saying what I could not, and I am grateful that in traveling half way around the world I have had the opportunity to not only work with such an amazing woman, but to now call her my friend.
View from beneath PACU.
Looking out from the open air PACU. People are living here.
***if the pictures are a little grainy and not beautiful they are taken by me with my phone camera and not by Fowler. His are the ones that are spectacular!***