feb 26.today, i woke early, determined to run out of town and find a bit of space in the flatness that surrounds abyei. at 630 am, the sky was still dark. as I ran, past the trucks and buses leaving for El Obeid or Khartoum or Juba, full upon full of beds and blankets ontop of beds and blankets, dawn happened. but the sun never rose. not past the meniscus of dust along the horizon. a windstorm had lifted the sudan sand, and it covered not only my tukul and abyei, but the wide sky. by 8 am, the sun was only a gauzy ghostly hole, the color of beeswax.
today, when I was doing rounds this morning, and I was figuring out what to do with a young boy who developed a fever after a run with measles, a boy who I had already stuck a chest tube in his side and two needles in his back to try and drain a large collection of bacteria, as I was deciding whether we should stick more things into his chest or send him to another hospital or if he was going to die, and just as I was hearing that today, already looking like bones glued together, today he started refusing food, I looked down and beneath his bed was a butterfly, white wings with black mosaic, struggling to right itself on the floor but spinning in circles and circles, broken.
today, a whole rash of measles. twenty patients in the last week or so. I had it as a child. so did my brother. I have no memory of it. all I have are pictures about how miserable we both looked. I have no idea why we have these pictures. perhaps in some kind of memoriam of how sick we were, but more likely, we just sat still for more than 30 seconds. people sit still with measles because they don’t want to move. there eyes get infected, their skin flakes, there fevers are severe. measled. miserabled. that’s how my brother looked in the pictures, and that’s how these patients look. but we make most of them better. and we are organizing a campaign to vaccinate thousands. they are some of the sickest people in the hospital. you learn early on in the refugee business that if you have thousands of people together, the first thing you do, before plastics sheets and protein, the first things is to vaccinate against measles.
today, on our rounds, stopping by the miserabled, we found two girls who came in on the same day: achol kwol, and his friend, kwol achol. though we set up a measles tent for this latest surge, people refuse it because it is too hot. sudan sleeps outside these days. achol and kwol were not exception, but by moving around, they had lost their hospital cards. “which are you? achol or kwol? achol? no? kwol? which? achol kwol? the other?” by the time we were done, they were as uncertain as we were.
today, a baby died about ten minutes after coming into the hospital. she was dirty and covered in grass. the family came from far away, and asked if knew somewhere nearby where they could bury her. i said I did not. they thanked me and left.
when people I see in the hospital talk of where they are from, they answer in days. “three days away”, some say.
people here make small cuts in their childrens faces, and as they grow, their scars form elegant angles. they look beautiful. and severe.
I admitted a boy from two days away who had such severe dehydration that he tried to suck on my stethoscope as I listened to his heart. today he is better. he gained a kilogram in 16 hours. from 5 to 6.
there is a little girl here who the staff are so fond of that I think they are delaying discharging her because they would miss her too much. she is always between your legs, and crawling onto your lap. if it comes to me, I am never discharging her either. her mother stays happily too, as thrilled as we are to have someone so delighted so close by.
there is a falcon that sits on my tukul and pierces the afternoon with his high whistling cry. before they knew I was coming, they fed him bits of meat and named him james.
I must return to the hospital. already, it is a well worn path. I am going to take some pictures in the next few days, and send them so you can see what I am talking about, of abyei and some of the miserabled if they agree. if not, then of the hospital.
I am sorry I haven’t updated in the past few days. trying to find the time is occasionally difficult, as is sitting inside when it is 44 C. I believe that you can sign up for RSS feeds that tell you when something is new.
and, of course, if someone is reading this, tell me if something is new with you. no details are too banal. I am hungry for them.