Hotels, Hospital Trolley, Nit free

It's been a bit of a weird week.   Our sewage tank was leaking so our landlords said we needed to be out of the house for a few days so they could repair it.  We stayed at a hotel in town.  The girls liked it, but I found it terribly inconvenient.  When we go out of town for the weekend, I remember everything we need (admittedly, since we've been here, I've forgotten to pack someone's underwear almost every time we go to a resort!).  But, usually I have most things we need when we go out of town.  When we went to the hotel locally, I found myself running back to the house for every little thing.  "Oh ya, Andie has swimming on Friday morning at school, I need to go get her stuff." "I have a headache, I need to go retrieve meds." "I need to make the girls' lunches.  Let me go grab some salami." "Oh, we have to eat out again tonight and return back to the hotel late and then try to do homework!"  Anyway, in the grand scheme of life, it was no big deal....just irritating.  Small potatoes compared to real life problems.

My eyes were opened up to real life in Fiji....not expat life, on Friday.  I volunteered with Corona, an organization of mostly expats that raise funds for the local hospital.  One thing they do to raise funds is the hospital trolley.   The trolley is a two carts that goes through the hospital every Friday selling food (sandwiches, boiled eggs, fruit, cakes, etc) and toys, baby clothes, diapers, soaps, deodorant, etc. The carts are super popular because at the hospital here you get a basic meal but it doesn't amount to much at all.  Also, you don't get diapers, blankets, wipes, soap, etc. when you've just had a baby or when you have to stay in the hospital for any reason.  If you need it, you better bring it with you or have the money to buy it off the trolley.    

I was running late after the girls' morning assembly, so I had to meet the trolley folks in the children's ward.  For the first few minutes I was lost in the hospital and quite nervous.  I was thinking about Warren's accident (every time I'm in a hospital my brain flashes there) and all of the germs floating around.  (Right now, Suva is a cesspool of germs.  I think it could be post-cyclone related, but not sure.  Seriously, EVERYONE has been sick, my family included.  H1N1 is here among many other illnesses.  Two of the classes at school only had 8 of 24 students present this week.   Half the staff has been out.   If a plague takes over the world, this is definitely not where I'd want to be.  I've never seen infectious disease like this.  So, understandably, I thought about germs).  I don't know why I was nervous.....but I was.  

I got upstairs to the children's ward and felt overwhelmed immediately.  The ward was PACKED.  There were beds in the hall of children just laying there crying or laying there listless.  Their parents were on the beds with them.   It was HOT as there is no air conditioning.  The trolley had loads of people gathering around grabbing at all of the rattles, diapers, etc.  I wasn't sure exactly how to help so I just stood there, taking it all in.  I was trying to keep a smile on my face and not reveal the true emotions underneath.  I was so sad....  I kept blinking back tears.  I felt completely overwhelmed.  I was so thankful that my children were not in this ward and wanted to help everyone of these kids.  I wanted better for them.  In reality, it wasn't that bad.  These kids would see the doctors. They would get help.  I was trying to not think, "Oh my God...these poor kids.  Our medical system is SO much better than this,"...because I know there are good doctors there.    On the surface, things looked terrible, but I also know there is worse.  I felt like if I felt sorry for made me so condescending in a way....but, actually, I did feel sad for them.  I felt bad that they couldn't sit in air-conditioning and have all of the supplies they need and reassurance...and not share germs with everyone else in the room.  I obviously haven't sorted out how I felt there.....  I am completely inarticulate about it..... but I can just say, I felt sick.  My stomach hurt and I wanted to cry the whole time I was there.  I wanted to lie and say I didn't feel well...and leave.   I feel SO much respect for my friends who work in hospitals like these....or nurses who show so much compassion daily.  Why couldn't I just talk to people on a personal level and get past my surroundings?   What is wrong with me? 

We then moved to the maternity ward.  First of all, at this hospital, everyone labors in the same room together.  After they birth the baby, they are put into another room....with many other women and newborn babies.   There are about 10 women per room.   After birth, the babies just stay on the beds with the moms.  There are no dads in the picture.  We walked into the first room of 12 women and babies all just laying on their beds post childbirth.  The babies were all nursing or sleeping next to their mamas.   They were so tiny and cute!  I sort of liked how there were no cribs....just babies and mamas.   But....  wow...they were all together in there.  I guess you are really seeing everyone going through just what you are going through.  Too bad dads are not a part of it...but it makes sense given everyone's privacy.   We then walked into the rooms that all the women were laboring in together.  They were SO calm!!!!  None of them were moaning like I was for hours.  They were all just sitting there or pacing, rubbing their tummies.   I was in serious disbelief the whole time.... how is everyone so calm?  I don't think they have epidurals here, but I am not sure.  By this point, I settled into my surrounding and was not feeling so overwhelmed.  I felt more able to chat with the patients and not fake my face any longer.   

We sold out of all of the food and the baby clothing was extremely popular.  Overall, I spent three hours in the hospital and I can definitely say I hope the only time I go back there is to volunteer again for the trolley.   It was eye opening.  I am glad I did it.  I once again realize how lucky we are to have access to the nurses at the embassy and to know we would get evacuated if anything serious happened.  Now, if there was a terrible car crash, that's where we'd be and I'd have to be ok with it.  I KNOW there are good doctors there.  I just got up close with poverty.... and that's never comfortable but it's necessary.   It keeps me grounded and reminds me of how we need to be committed to helping others.  

On a completely opposite note.....  we've been nit-free for about 6 weeks!  This is our longest stretch yet!!!   Since we've moved here we've been using the nit free terminator comb.  It's amazing!  But...of course, we've still had one or two eggs per week or a long time.  Well guess what????    Zoë and Andie's best friends just got the same comb and have been nit free since they got it!  And....I don't think it's a coincidence that we've all been nit-free too!!!   If you ever get lice, this is the answer.  It still takes work and persistence...but this comb helps immensely.   Maybe I need to buy one for all of their friends?!

Getting ready for Zoë's birthday.  She's gonna be six soon.  Wow.  Birthday letter and shenanigans soon to follow.   In the meantime, here's a cute picture from this week's morning assembly and brunch with Warren and Andie this week.