Sunday, February 27, 2011

I have held a lot of hands during diaper changes this week.

I mean that figuratively…though I have actually physically restrained children by holding their hands with some regularity while I coach my Iraqi counterparts on whatever it is that they are doing. 

I was there on my solo night shifts primarily with male nurses.  There are six nurses here for 24 hours so through the night they take turns sleeping in shifts.  So at any given time I only have two of them in the ICU with me.  Which is fine, but every four hours I have a new nurse who needs to be convinced that he is fully capable of changing a diaper.  I have to be firm: “No, you do not need to get the mother.  Yes, YOU need to do this, Yes this is part of your JOB.  Yes, I will help YOU.”

This whole thing must be such a shocking role reversal for these guys.  This feisty little American woman is making them change diapers and bottle feed babies. 


It must be even more shocking to see this same little, bare headed, curly haired American woman, as well as her equally little, and even more ferocious British counterpart, advising their physicians and at times even vocally disagreeing with them (P.S. I think doctors may be regarded with even more esteem here than they are back home).

I am embarrassed to admit it, but I have actually yelled at people since I have been here. (“I don’t care if the monitor says the oxygen saturation is 93%!  The baby is not 93.  The baby is purple!!! The baby is not breathing….the baby looks dead! Monitor does not matter!  Baby LOOKS dead! Go get me some help!”).  I think this behavior on my part no doubt resulted in paralyzing shock for this poor man…hence his initial inaction.

We were given little certificates of appreciation for the work we have done here.  Mine reads “This certificate is hereby awarded to Ms. Kristen Anne Dill for having performed his duties faithfully, satisfactorily, and enthustiaticcally during the volunteer medical mission trip…”  It seems like an understandable error though…these surly British and American woman who speak their opinions to men (including doctors) and travel the world without their fathers or husbands are a much different breed than the variety of women predominantly found in this country.

I wonder what they really think of us.  Somehow think it is somewhere in between male and female. 

1 comment: