On Motherhood & Sanity


Thursday, March 11, 2010

On how lucky we are and how much we take for granted

Gulu, North Uganda

I woke up to my hosts having a very civilized coffee in their nice pajamas in an actual home. A radical change from the crappy hotels I’ve been hanging out in for the last ten plus days. We all sat in the living room. I had tea. They smoked and drank coffee. All very civilized, until I started my relay runs to the toilet.

Today was meant to be my last field day. After a pretty good night Montezuma struck me again. So no more community visits for me.

I miss the world. I kept fantasizing about fresh tomatoes, even though I don’t really like tomatoes that much, but they are so beautiful, with their tight bright red skin. I thought about fresh mozzarella, and yogurt, and how we take these things for granted. These beautiful things. I also fantasized about snuggling my monkeys. Normally I would be travelling back by now, this is the longest trip I have done since they were born. Then Montezuma struck again, and since there is no running water in the office I went home.

We stopped to drop off my sample. How I got that sample I will leave to the imagination, but let me tell you, it was not pretty, (remember there is no running water in the office). A taxi took me to the super clinic everyone is raving about

They took my sample and proceeded to take my blood for the malaria swab. I was kind of paranoid I would end up with HIV, but I think everything was in order. Then they asked me to wait, and thirty minutes later my results were ready, which kind of makes me wonder why they take days in the west. I watched the guy handle my stuff (which totally grossed me out), and then put it under the microscope, (which totally impressed me) and then painfully slowly write up my report. All done by the same guy!

Fortunately I do not have malaria and it’s just some nasty bacteria, so I can eat whatever I want. Since the medicine is starting to have an effect my apetite is coming back, and by dinner time I was starving.

We had a lovely (loooovely) plate of pasta bathed in olive oil and sun dried tomatoes, a delicacy brought in from Kampala. Then we had a long lazy chat in the outdoor hut under the moonlight about books and exotic travels in exotic places, things that belong to worlds now far from mine. I kept thinking about the fact that many children die of what I just had. Most of the deaths in Africa, specially in the case of small children, are due to diarrhea. Really, what I just had, which is easily fixed if you can get your hands on a set of these pills, (mine cost less than 4 bucks). I kept wondering what it must feel like to be a mother, and have your child sick, and have to watch your baby wither away slowly, unable to do anything to stop it. Or even as an adult, to be as sick as I was, feel like I was feeling, and have it carry on and on.

When we were in Cambodia we decided to give all the staff in the compound de-worming medicine. They were none too happy. The pills were quite strong and giving them all sorts of stomach problems. They came to ask if instead of two pills a day they could just take one. I guess they saw it as a kind of compromise. Of course I had to say no because one pill a day would have achieved nothing. A few weeks later they confessed they were feeling much better. They'd probably had worms for such a long time they were used to the side effects. Again, we are so fortunate.

Spoke to the monkeys. I miss them. Its so hard trying to speak with them, they don’t make any sense and most of the times I don’t even know who I am talking to because they both have this silly baby voice which is still genderless. Only when they make references to cars or princesses can I be sure who it is. (Although today O told A off in such a tone that I had no doubt who I was talking to.)

Only a few days more and I’ll be home with them and my fresh red tomatoes.

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