Saturday, May 14, 2011

#46 Gore-y

Warning: Rated PG-13, maybe 14 or 15.

As an ER doctor, I’m often on the brink of losing all faith in humanity. I’ve learned to distrust everybody.

Your chest doesn’t really hurt, you’re just a narcotic addict.

Your chest doesn’t really hurt, you just knew I’d see you faster if you said it did. You really came for your penile discharge.

Your chest doesn’t really hurt, you just wanted to come in out of the rain and get a warm, free meal.

The list goes on and on.

Today, Honore, one of my very best nurses, came and found me in my office. ‘We have a small emergency in the ER. Somebody got attacked by a bull.’ He swept his hand from his forehead up into the sky. Ok, the bull has horns. I like charades. Then he pointed to his tush. Aha, guy got gored in the bum. This should be interesting.

I pull back the curtain. There’s a woman lying on her side with her top leg pulled up to her chest. I see that the leg is wrapped around a belly. ‘Is she pregnant?’


‘Did you ask her? That looks like a pretty pregnant belly to me.’

They ask the patient. ‘Yes, she’s pregnant.’

‘How far along?’

‘About term.’

There’s blood all over the bed, her clothes, her, the floor, my feet. I grab some gauze and start wiping. Where’s all this blood coming from? I’ve wiped it all off of her butt and I see no gaping bullhorn hole. Is this a joke?

‘Maybe from the anus,’ a nurse offers helpfully. No, it’s not the anus.

It’s the vagina. It’s inside the vagina. Not the outside. The inside. It’s torn horribly and bleeding heavily. I’ve seen enough.

‘Who did this to her?’

‘No, didn’t you hear? It was a bull.’

‘Yes, it’s “bull” alright. But not a cow. She’s not telling the truth. Who did this to her?’

‘No, it was a bull. This happens here all the time. The bulls here gore people in the vagina.’

‘Seriously? You seriously believe this? Bulls here gore people in the vagina? Why don’t bulls in America gore people in the vagina? Have you seen a bull gore somebody in the vagina before?’

‘Well, no.’

‘Have you ever seen a bull gore somebody before?’ By now, I’m interrogating five nurses who are all adamant that Tchadian bulls have a penchant for goring women in the vagina. Educated nurses who are telling me explicitly that bulls can’t resist a woman bending over and have a natural, unavoidable urge to gore women in the vagina.

One nurse finally works up the courage to say that he saw a bull gore a man in the anus once. ‘Did you actually see it?’

‘Well, no.’

‘Was it actually in the anus or next to the anus?’

‘Well, next to the anus,’ he finally admits.

‘If a bull gores 100 women bending over, what are the odds that he actually gets his horn through her two layers of cloth and inside her vagina? One in 100? Five in 100?’

The biggest guess I get is five in 100. ‘Have you seen twenty women get gored by a bull? No, you’ve only seen one. What are the odds that this woman was gored inside the vagina? Not next to the vagina, not the outside of the vagina, but INSIDE the vagina? Was there anybody who witnessed her getting gored?’

‘Yes, her mother.’

‘Ask her mother if she saw it.’

‘The mother’s now saying that nobody was around to see it.’

‘So you want me to believe that a woman is more likely to get gored INSIDE the vagina, unwitnessed, through two layers of cloth without damaging the cloth, by a bull than she is to be sexually assaulted while pregnant?’

‘Of course. And why would she lie anyway?’

‘Because she’s trying to protect somebody or because she’s afraid of somebody.’

Kind of like a couple weeks ago when we had a girl with another cut in her vagina. She apparently had tripped and fallen on a stick. Somehow, this stick made it’s way through her two layers of cloth and into her vagina. Without damaging the cloth. Quite the stick.

Pregnant women are more likely to suffer violence than non-pregnant women. And pregnant women are more likely to suffer sexual violence. Yeah, this was (a) bull.

I’ve witnessed enough violence here already to make cable television blush. It’s so accepted that church members openly tell other church members about how they had to beat their wives the night before, you know, ‘Because she wasn’t respecting me.’ Well, I’m sure their wives ‘respect’ them now. So much for, ‘In perfect love there is no fear.’

I’ve heard the stories of men urinating on their wives, just because. It goes on and on and on. Problem with the kids, well then, you probably haven’t beaten them enough. Sometimes the children and the wives die as a result. More often, their souls are killed, but their bodies live on.

And men don’t masturbate here. I didn’t believe it when I first heard it. We do infertility counseling and treatment. As such, we do sperm studies. I figured the guys just hid in a corner of the hospital and... got their sperm samples. One day, a man told me he arrived for his sperm study. I gave him the lab slip. A couple minutes later, after the lab explained the test to him, he came right back to me. ‘I can’t do the spermogram because my wife isn’t here.’ Uh, excuse me. I asked a nurse to explain masturbation to the man. The nurse didn’t understand. I asked how we get our sperm samples. Apparently, couples are having sex somewhere at the hospital and collecting sperm that way. I asked several more of our nursing staff. They all claimed that men don’t masturbate. Why would they? I didn’t understand.

Now, I understand. Where violence is so accepted, even against women, a man is allowed to force himself on a woman at any time he desires. It’s not rape. Here, they call it ‘marriage.’

This is ridiculous. I have a life to save. More correctly, Danae has a life to save. I’ve now said ‘vagina’ in French more than I have in the previous... well, all my life... and it’s time to get the gynecologist involved. I tell the nurses to get the patient to the OR. They’re shocked. Why wouldn’t you just suture up her vagina here in the middle of the ER where all the world can watch? I just tell them to get her to the OR and storm off to find Danae.

To shorten up the story, Danae cut off the woman’s labia and sutured up a huge wound inside the vagina, consistent with what a stick or some other instrument could do. The woman required a blood transfusion and the baby was dead when she arrived. She delivered the stillborn shortly thereafter.

We’ll never know the true story. It’s known between the woman and God only. Well, and I suppose either a man or a bull is in on the secret too.


1 comment:

  1. It's heart-wrenching, isn't it? I've had 2 little girls here in Malawi, 4 and 6yrs old, who were clearly raped this past week. Makes me wonder what I as one person can do. The police here will arrest the perp, run out of prison space, and release him back into the village within 3-5 days with no consequences.