Thursday, April 3, 2008

the return of a friend

One long hallway connects all the hospital wards. At the end of this hospital is an area with three rooms, which is are comparable to a room in a doctor's office, which is used for our patients follow up appointments. Next to the room is a door which leads to an ship gangway (the gangway allows you to board and exit the ship) which is only used in the daytime by hospital patients and staff. When patients come for a follow up appointment they wait to be seen in a designated area (which is equipped with chairs and a TV) outside of the door.

It's basically the same set up you would find at a doctors office.
If you walk through this area at any point during the day, you are very likely to bump into a familiar face (although, you might not recognize it because the face is not connected to a hospital gown clad frame that is resting in a hospital bed :)

On Monday I was walking through the waiting area when I heard a distinct "Meggee".

Sitting on a plastic chair was Musu.

Musu is a 21 year old sassy orthopedic patient from last outreach, who regally told me my butt was big (which was meant to be a compliment) and tried to convince me to marry her brother (she regularly addressed me as "meggee, my brother's woman"). Musu was here for almost three months and I must say, we became rather good friends.

I plopped my self next to her and we exchanged hugs and kisses on the cheek.

"How are you Musu?"
"Awe Meggee, I am bereaved."

Musu sadly paused and looked down, trying to hide the tears that were crystallizing at the corners of her eyes.

"My boyfriend, you remember him? He came and visited me last year. He was sick for two days and he died."

She reached down into the lime green and bright blue plastic lunch box we had given her last outreach that she was using as a purse and pulled out a white, cloth handkerchief and wiped the rolling tears from her face that she no longer could hold back.

He had died last week. His funeral had been on Saturday. She had been living with him in Monrovia and he had been paying for her to go to school. This week she moved in with her sister and will most likely be unable to afford school.

Musu is from up country and she told me her family had come to the funeral. I asked if she was going to return to the bush with her family.

"No, I can't. I would have to do hard work." Hard work would not be good for Musu's still somewhat freshly fixed leg.

Sadly in Liberia it is not uncommon for someone, who was previously totally healthy, to be sick for a few days and then die. It's what happens when you have no access to medical care. You die from things like vomiting and diarrhea. And sadly, you have a likely chance of getting sick because you don't have clean water, you don't have sanitation, and you don't have anyway of treating malaria.

We don't understand what that's like.

We get annoyed when have to wait in an emergency room or for a doctor's office to open. And
inconvenienced when kids are sick and someone can't go to work because they have to stay at home with them.

Liberians don't understand what that's like. They don't have the option of being inconvenienced; but if given the choice I am sure they would rather choose to be inconvenienced or annoyed than to watch a loved one die.

I did my best to comfort Musu; it was sad to watch her cry. I think she really loved this boyfriend. I think she planned on marrying him. And now he is gone and her heart is broken. A tragically ended love story.

It really just makes me sad for her.

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