Monday, 5 November 2012

Someone else’s shoes

Sometimes when I look around in the ward where I work, I try to see it through the eyes of someone else.

Sometimes I try to look through the eyes of a brand new patient on the ward.  I don't know exactly how to identify with all that they have seen or lived through in their lives so I feel I have a warped view. But i still try to imagine anyway.

Mostly I try to see the ward as though I have stepped in for the first time as a new nurse (it was 3 1/2 years ago now that i was brand new on board the M/V Africa Mercy).
Here I am, back in 2009!

I see caregivers are sleeping under the beds, sometimes with extra babies.

See the caregiver's baby sleeping under the bed?

The patients' beds are so close together that only one person at a time can squeeze between them.

Here I am with some beloved patients of mine, squeezed between two beds.

The curtains are hung on the ceiling with magnets and only moved around a bed when necessary.

I can stand at the nurses desk and see all 15 of our patients at once.

Our patients share one small toilet and shower, all patients, caregivers and extra babies. They sit outside the bathroom in the mornings with their bowl and soap to wash, patiently waiting for their turn.

Often there are blocks, a small toddler bike or kids toys strewn across the small floor space between beds.

There are pictures from colouring books splashed with bright colours, proudly hung above beds, even though there is always a shortage of colouring pencils and crayons.

Stickers tattoo the children's faces and arms, and sometimes walls and floors too.

Everyone works together in community, caring for the baby who's mama is in surgery or papa playing games with another's child while mama sleeps. If there is a need, it is taken care of by someone.

 Yesterday I had the privilege of taking one of our sweet patients to feel the fresh, warm outside air and see the ocean and sun light. You see, this boy has been on bed rest for 3 weeks now while we wait for his healing. We have no windows in the hospital of this train ferry converted hospital ship. The wards have no natural light and if you can imagine living in artificial light for days and days at a time, the pleasure of seeing the outside world is almost too much to contain! With permission from the captain and one of the officers coming down to the hospital and opening the pilots entrance for us, our precious patient could lie in his bed and watch the waves rippling in the breeze, feel the wind on his face, watch the birds soaring through the air and the boats sailing past. The smile on his face was one of the sweetest and most grateful I have ever seen and the moment will be treasured by me forever. 


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