Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Crazy Pants

Crazy Pants

I swear we could make a movie of the craziness that happens here. It just doesn’t get any crazier than this past week, however. And this we can write about.

How’s a girl gonna get out of school in Chad where there’s no such thing as a snow day?

It better be something good!

You gotta fake out your teacher. You gotta fake out your classmates. You gotta fake out your parents. You gotta fake out the nurses at the hospital.
I’ve always hated fakers in the medical field. Somehow I attract them. Fake seizure here, fake seizure there….. In America. In Africa. They’re everywhere!

In the medical field there are a few tell tale signs to know when someone’s faking it. Once you get that one little sign. It’s over. You know they are a faker. It takes less than a minute usually.

Then comes the process of the PATIENT accepting it and telling everyone else that they were faking it too. That’s the part that takes a while. In America, we don’t usually get the luxury of this second part even though we know the truth.
It started a week or so ago. A teenage girl came in here. A teenage girl came in there. Same story. She was at school (usually) and started acting weird.

She had some sort of a seizure. She would act crazy, shaking her arms and body parts depending on the girl. She would stare and look at you weird. Some people thought it was medical. Some people thought it was devil possession. In reality, they were just faking it.

A girl fell ill with the sickness. Everyone got all hyped up about her. Crowds gathered. She got lots of attention. Another girl thought she’d try it in another school. Same sort of thing.

The drums of Bere started beating. They passed it on to Kelo. They passed it on to Moundou. The drums even got to N’DJamena.

I had heard Olen complaining of these girls on and off for a week or so. There hadn’t been very many at one time though.


I heard the commotion at urgence. A pick-up truck had brought in a teenage girl acting like a rabid dog. There were 20 people trying to hold her down and carry her into urgence.

Seriously people!? “Get away. All of the family has to get out! Everyone get out!” (Fakers love a good crowd.)

At the same time 2 other girls came in. All 3 of them were from different schools in Bere. Since they all came from different schools, people thought they had to be telling the truth and were really sick. Oh, so it must be an epidemic of crazy pants girls then!

I had 10 seconds with the first girl before I knew she was faking it. It’s all in the eyes.

Immediately, I brought the other 2 girls in the same holding area as the first girl. There was some wrestling I must admit. There was some yelling. There was a lot of, “Why don’t you want to be equal with the men in this country?” “Why don’t you want to go to school? Didn’t we just celebrate Mar. 8 (women’s independence day)?” There were a few pen to nail bed pressures (trust me you don’t want this.). There was even a little of me acting crazy to show them I could do it also.

In the end, each girl walked out of urgence on her own standing next to me. She told the crowd she was sorry.

We had 8 total crazy pants teenage girls come in that same day. Each one got the same treatment.

“Are you going to admit you are faking it now?, Or do you want to spend the week in pediatrics with us?” They all chose to be difficult and become hospitalized. Olen and I paired up a few times when several came in at once.

Each girl had to say sorry to the crowd of gawking onlookers who had just struggled to get this thrashing girl to the hospital.

Each girl was then hospitalized in pediatrics with all of the screaming babies.

They all hated me at first. But I promise that we were BFF’s (best friends forever) by the time she left the hospital.

You see, starting with the most stubborn girl, I made them follow me around on rounds, consulting patients, and operating on patients (observation only). By the end of the day she was my friend whether she wanted to be or not.

These girls needed attention. And they needed hope for the future. They needed to know that their life mattered. That they could BE someone. And they needed discipline.

I didn’t want them to EVER forget this week. They messed with the wrong girl here! The first day I took 2 girls. The second hospitalized day I took 2, and Olen took 2. The third day I took 2 and Olen took 1. They actually liked it after the first few minutes of us ignoring their stubbornness.

Well I tell you that we’d never get away with this in America...Wrestling the patient to the floor, humiliating her in front of all of the on-lookers, publicly declaring that she was faking it, and then bringing her into the hospital to learn about medical things!?

The girls’ eyes were opened by what they could learn if they just stay in school. They saw intelligent female nurses working equally with men. They saw the suffering of the female patients here. They saw the sadness in the eyes of the parents of very sick children with malaria. They saw rude men refuse to pay for care for family members.
You could see the change in their eyes, little by little. They wanted to be different now. They wanted to be an intelligent female.
The epidemic finished with a 3 day vacation from school for the WHOLE COUNTRY. Seriously. For fakers. Official government line: “We are suspending all academic activities for 72 hours in the hopes the evil spirits will pass by in that period of time.”
But our girls didn’t really get a vacation. However, they will never forget it. They soooo hated me at first. And then they loved me. Oh, it was a great week! And we discharged them after only 3 days because they were on such good behavior!
(As an aside: We do actually believe in demon-possession. And we believe we see it here. However, this was not that. This was voluntary crazy-pants.


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  5. That's so cool that you took them on your rounds. I'm glad God gave you a moment of clarity, wisdom, and insight to see beyond the acting to the root cause. I will be praying He helps you through the craziness!

  6. I work as ED RN in the US and I see plenty of fake seizures. Your story gave me a good laugh. I also think your solution was innovative and addressed the attention seeking behavior. If only I could do that here in the US. :)