Thursday, May 26, 2016

A hoot

(no pictures of owls… or any pictures on this blog)

It’s been a hectic last couple of weeks.  We’ve had a slew of complicated OB cases come in.  Dad’s also been sick with vestibular dysfunction (rock in his ear), so I’ve had more on my plate than normal too.  With everything that’s been going on I think God knew I needed a good laugh.  

A few days earlier I delivered a preeclamptic who was refusing to push.  She was just straight up acting like a baby.  But as some of us know, it’s just hard to deliver sometimes.  It hurts.  Especially your first time.  She ended up with a vacuum delivery and postpartum hemorrhage with uterine packing for atony.  Both her and her baby were doing well.  

Two days later… it had been a long day at the hospital.  In the evening I came home, took a nice cold shower, and put on a long relaxing sundress.  

A knock on the door.  

It was my evening maternity nurse, Fideline.  She said one of my patients (the same lady above) was ‘agitated’ and thrashing about.  The family was demanding to leave.  

Oh no you don’t leave!  My hair was still wet and unbrushed, but I left to go have a look at my patient.  

The patient was thrashing about on a mat outside of maternity.  Her mom and sister were holding her down.  Every once in a while she would scream out or cry and continue thrashing.  I observed for a few seconds. 

It seemed she was faking it.  But rather than calling her out, I decided to go with the flow.  If I called her out, the family would go to the witch doctor.  

I explained to everyone watching this happens sometimes with her sickness.  (She could have swelling of her brain that would cause some lapse of judgment).  I called out the husband because he had not given blood (like I had asked in the morning), and had not bought the anti-malaria drugs I had prescribed in the morning.  How dare they ask to leave when they hadn’t even done what I had requested that morning!  

As I was doing this I asked the family to not hold her.  She tried to thrash about, but I kneeled calmly and grasped my arms around her arms and body.  The whole time she would intermittently let out bursts of thrashing.  Each time she did, I squeezed and held her in place.  

The family seemed unusually attentive, hanging on my every word and nodding their heads most sincerely.  I spoke softly in her ear (though she only spoke arabic, sometimes they speak a little french), and loudly to those watching explaining everything.  I was pretty certain all the people around didn’t speak French, but they were really intensely listening.  I’m used to being the center of attention, but this was above and beyond anything I had ever experienced before.  There must have been a good 60 people staring at me by now, really into my lecture.  So I decided to explain at lengthy detail what was going on with her.  She was sick.  She could not go.  We would give her blood.  We would give her malaria medicines.  She had to stay.  

I kept talking.  It wasn’t her fault.  This happens sometimes.  I explained cerebral edema with preeclampsia/eclampsia.  I explained anemia.  She thrashed.  The onlookers/family seemed to accept this.  Something told me they would have earnestly accepted anything I fed them.  

I looked down after my lengthy discussion.  


One of ‘the sisters’ had come out for some fresh air.  My boob was hanging out.  One titty just flappin’ around in the breeze.  

Awesome.  My strap had broken on my dress during her thrashing about and that right tata was open for all to see, staring unblinkingly back at the throng.  

I calmly explained to everyone that because of her sickness, she had broken my clothes.  The family definitely had to stay to make sure she was better.  I figured I had spent enough time playing it cool like nothing was wrong and decided it was time to return the sweater puppy to the sweater.  I asked for a scarf and her sister tied it around the top of my dress.  

We carried my patient into a private room and she sat up and asked for some water.  

Ya, most likely had faked everything.  (Don’t get me wrong, the rack is 100% real.  Her ‘seizures’ were fake.)

Which makes it worse that she exposed my melon!  Although, anyone who has breastfed exclusively for 6 months knows that at 5 ½ months along, your boobies are no longer your own.  So why not expose them for all to see?!  (The one benefit is that at six months of breastfeeding, at least the cans are 12-ouncers and not 5-ounces.)

Now I realize that the crowd probably wasn’t really listening to me.  They were all just interested what this crazy white lady was doing with her sisters all hanging out.  Though it’s the culture here to let your hooters hang, it’s not normal to see white jugs out on display.  

It sure gave me a good laugh afterwards.  

The patient had no more problems with agitations.  I made her stay an extra day with no more occurrences.  Her and her baby left in good health.  Her husband was very grateful.  He said thank you over and over and over.  And over.  While giving me a creepy smile.  And his phone number.  


  1. Turning the girls loose! If it gets you such undivided attention maybe you should try it more often!
    I'll never forget the patient in boston who interrupted her "seizure" to say "don't touch me-can't you see I'm having a seizure?" Such wasted talent..

  2. Thanks for the hilarious story! I had a good laugh too :) God definitely infuses laughter at key moments. I remember the morning my grandmother died and I was at work trying to turn over a key project to a coworker before I took a few days off. My coworker showed up, smelling strongly like skunk! She had a good story to go with it and it was a helpful few minutes of laughter to get me through until I could leave.