Up until 1, up at 0530, waking the others, packing bags, and we left at something like 0745. It was a half-hour walk, maybe a mile, mostly uphill. Premed student M, who shares a name with my Angel, coached us up the hills to a tiny town. By 0930 we had built me a room of my own to see patients. And then it began. Children with colds, coughing on me. Old men with facial lesions that make us beg to cut them off (tomorrow, 0800), 89-year-old Nicaraguans (vitamins and Tylenol) and more headaches than I care to count.
Lunch at 1, spaghetti. We brought it with us in the backpacks in the morning, ate it lukewarm and unrefrigerated at noonish. Nobody thinks twice about the meat; we’re too hungry. I ask a lot of questions. I see 25 patients. We only stop when it is too dark to see any longer; I examine rashes by flashlight. I am “la doctora” and I am running on adrenaline and panic. I am, it seems, doing well.,
I pass up the ambulance ride back and walk half an hour under a midnight sky. The stars are vivid, alive, tangible beings of light, singing with the sound of these hills. I am exhausted, but it is a good exhausted.
R is coming out of the showers, complaining of the spigot leaking. He hears my voice, calls my name. We banter beside the doors, under fluorescent light; E would accuse me of flirting. She might not be entirely wrong. It lends spice, warmth to the evening. It lends familiarity.
A cricket accosts my knees repeatedly as I use the toilets, and I secretly hope that the bucket-laden force flushing drowns it. Then I shower. And now it is dark, I am clean and happy and tonight, O Best Beloved, it is a good night.
[And then there are two pages I am expunging. Not given normally to censorship, O Best Beloved, I am exercising it in this single occurrence. I put down my notebook and went to the cantina with the students, and J, and the translators. And I got involved in a drinking game played with 70-proof Flor de Caña and I stumbled back to the compound some 10 shots in 2 or 3 hours drunker. And I picked up my pen, wrote a monologue worthy of a teen-age drama queen, a monologue I am expunging. It had nothing at all to do with the trip and everything to do with my inner angst-monger.
Plus, it’s barely legible. Fine motor control is a cerebellar function.]
I found my way to the office this morning, despite ignoring my Angel's directions. I presented myself, was oriented, played the game of here-and-there, took down names, instructions, drove around town. I have a badge, now, and no idea what I'm going to be doing this month. It will involve surgery and OB. I will be back in scrubs and holding retractors, I think. I will have sporadic hours, and late ones, and I will see babies and it's going to be all right, O Best Beloved. I think it'll work out.
Xev is speaking to me again. When I came home from Nicaragua both cats ran from me and hid, at every opportunity. Now at least Xev comes wanting loved on once more. This means she gets in the way of the computer, but what can you do?
Lunch is over. Back to work.