Wednesday, March 5, 2008

News from the Township

I hate to post so sporadically — it bumps the pretty photos down. If you haven't seen the second batch of Durban pictures (or the ones of my house-sitting), check 'em out below!

I wrote this letter to a friend about driving in Durban:

"Oh, and I took to left-side driving like a catfish to cooking oil -- it's been a delicious time. It took me half an hour to adjust, and I'm good at navigating the cities without getting nervous -- people here drive like bipolar thespians on the run from body image disorders. The police do nothing unless they think you'll give them money. Right-of-way in this country is legally whichever car is bigger. It's SO MUCH FUN."

Bad news from work the other day. One of our people is dead. Sofi and I called an ambulance for the woman as soon as we found her lying in her bed. It was my first day of work, February 18th. She had all the symptoms of menengitis. I didn't know much about it at the time, just that Sofi had left a note for the meds asking for a Lumberg Puncture to test.

By the way — ever heard of a Lumberg Puncture? If you've ever watched House, probably. All I knew about it was the massive needle they stick into people's spinal columns to drain fluid. But as it turns out, the fluid they take tests for many things (and Lupis is only one disease among 'em). One of them is menengitis. It's supposed to take half an hour to test the fluid once it's out of the spine.

Well, in the US it takes half an hour. This is South Africa; and the local hospital she was taken to is among the worst. It took them two tests and nine days to get any results, and then the nurses tending her didn't bother to check them. They put her on anti-retrovirals (for her late-stage AIDS), which took two days of training before they could treat her. The first day of training went fine; the second, they complained that she was "too sick to train" and sent her back to her bed. So after ten days, she died in hospital of menengitis and AIDS. We just found out Monday.

The news hit Sofi hard. She knew the woman; I didn't. I'd barely seen her. But Sofi railed for hours. In the States, negligence like this would be impossible, but here they probably won't even investigate it.

That doesn't, of course, mean we're going to try. Sofi and I are writing a case study now; we'll send it to the government, and if they don't do something promptly, we've been talking about sending it to the newspapers.

But it's hard to write about; we're still too much in shock to remember dates and facts. It's really too twisted.

1 comment:

trish said...

That is sad and unfortunate.