Are you able to read? No
Are you able to write? No
Did your husband leave you after your fistula? Yes
Number of Pregnancies: 1
Number of Deliveries: 1
Number of living children: 0
Time in labor: 4 days
Fetal outcome: stillbirth
Date of delivery: 1989
This is from an admission history of a VVF patient. It could be any one of them.
There histories are almost uniform. Fifteen seems to be the median age at time of delivery. The baby was stillborn. The husband left.
Many of these woman are thirty or forty now.
Last night I cared for three VVF ladies. We had a hard time understanding each other. I am told Liberians speak English but I don't believe it. Fortunately we have translators in the ward to bridge the communication gap.
There was a distinct stench of urine in their room. A smell these women have learned to live with.
One of my patient's was a little sassy. She tried to trick me into giving her extra towels. I felt at home.
We read stories and it is easy to compartmentalize them into a fictitious part of our imaginations. But theses are people. Individuals. They like to laugh (a few ladies found my miscommunication funny at times). They like watching TV. They get board because they are stuck in the ward all day.
Working with these ladies is wonderful. They have such sweet spirits. My heart was broken as I read their histories and thought of the weight of their past experiences. How broken their hearts must be.
We all pray for their mending.