Tales from a Syrian Hospital: Part Five

They just came to take out the drainage tube that was in Suzan’s belly.  The doctor/surgeon (I’m still not sure what rank he is) asked me to help him – qualifying as yet another worrying incident. What the heck do the nurses do around here! I didn’t have to do much as it happened. Just hold a swab over the drain hole while he pulled out the tube and then cut some tape for him to put a dressing on. All very unnerving. He told me that Suzan had to get up and start walking about, but she still looked comatosed to me. However, that was all the encouragement Omar needed and he sprung in to action, flinging back Suzan’s bed covers. “Slowly, slowly,” I had yelled at him. Really I could smack him.

Protesting all the way Suzan made it to standing position. Omar propped her up on one side and me on the other as Suzan leant on the handles of my wheelchair. Together we shuffled up and down the ward as I pushed her ‘wheelie-drip’. We made about three trips before Suzan colapsed onto her bed and promptly threw up. Predictably Omar disappeared. I looked around helplessly for another rescuing angel and my eye caught those of a colourfully dressed Bedouin woman who was sitting at the foot of the bed of a little girl who’s appendix had burst.  Wordless she washed Suzan’s face and changed her nightgown.  Still not a nurse in sight.

Thank goodness it is getting dark and it looks like people are settling down to sleep. I’m exhausted, I don’t know about Suz. I have no idea where I am going to sleep. I thought there might be a bit more room on her bed, but she is larger than I thought. Despite instructions Omar forgot to bring extra blankets.  Bedouin Lady has just offered us one of hers. Suz, through her slumber hissed, “Nah, dirty.”  I told her not to be so rude because at this very moment she is lying in a bed with sheets that are covered with her vomit. Not fussed, I accepted the blanket with the only convincing Arabic I know, “Shukran”.

There is something very romantic about the Bedouin. They are the closest likeness to ancient, Biblical characters that I have seen with their costumes and gestures yet they inhabit a world that at times must feel very alien to what they are used to. The Bedouin woman is staying in the ward with her little one, but she came with what I guess is the entire family. I asked the woman where her family were sleeping and she simply said, “Outside”. Of course, where else? But when I look out the window at the courtyard below there was no one there, so I peaked in the corridor and there they were, loads of them all huddled together… smiling at me.

People really carry their heart on their sleeve here. When one is sick all share in the experience. Not your average holiday adventure, but an adventure all the same.

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