Looks or Character? – A nightmare!

I remember hearing a famous speaker talking about the above subject and coming down on the side of character but also saying but noone wants to sit down at the breakfast table every morning looking at a nightmare! Some of us have the problem with even looking in a mirror!

According to my policy I warn you that there are two pictures under the line – with no sores nor any blood – but seeing them is essential to reading my thoughts for today.

Continue reading “Looks or Character? – A nightmare!”

Pictures or Words?

Already some people have indicated their gladness because I put a marker across my posts if I’m going to show a few medically mild photographs. We all have different backgrounds but I’ve been thinking a bit lately about this issue. I wonder what people do when watching a news presentation about rioting or some natural disaster or catastrophic event and a nasty scene comes on. Do they immediately turn them off? Is it possible or wise to hide from these terrible realities?

Thinking again, I wonder if more damage is done by what enters the mind via the eyes or through the ears. Reports of the political discussions about the very abnormal sexual behaviour being accommodated, or the legal destruction of life, both at its beginning and its end, entering the mind by reading or hearing, in my thinking, immunises minds against truth. I’ve read of high school kids being expelled for insisting that there are only 2 sexes. I personally think the authorities should be expelled.

Some may explain me away as a psycho-pathological religious nut. But it is they who are forsaking science for emotive who-ha. Please don’t think that I’m totally naive.

I had a young trainee Orthodox priest come to me with his penis halfway severed through because he, as a normal young man, was having difficulties balancing normal human reactions to the monasteries insistence on celibacy. He was trying to cut off his problem.

I’ve had to deal with a pre teenage child brought up as a girl but with strong desires to be male. On examination he had testicles but a grossly deformed penis, and no female organs. I won’t show you the pictures, which I have.

I’ve had to deal with a young man who often had meals with us, who as Orthodox got a Muslim girl pregnant. He was too terrified to tell his father so he used me as a listening ear. I said if you want an abortion you’re talking to the wrong person. He replied that neither he nor the girl wanted that. They had obviously discussed it. We had good talks, but in the end I said he had to talk to his father but that I would go with him. I had discovered that he was the illegitimate son of his father, but had been brought up with the family’s other children by the father’s wife and treated as one with the other kids some older, some younger than him. 

The father booted him out of the house and stated he never wanted to see him again. We cared for him until the ‘mother’ persuaded his father to take him back some weeks later. 

The girl was not prepared to meet me, but the young man and I had input with her. She, too, was unprepared to talk with her family. He could have remained quiet but she had an expanding reason to do something. So while her father was away she spoke to her mother who demanded that she have an abortion. The mother explained that her father would kill her if he ever found out that she was pregnant and particularly to an Orthodox boy. Eventually she was, very tearfully, dragged off to the local American run abortion clinic and the child’s life terminated.

Am I being judgemental in discussing these things? I guess the answer in some ways is ‘yes’. Are there many things with which I disagree? Celibacy should be chosen not forced; a decent look at the child could have seen testicles and no vagina; he explained that he had erections but although everything became hard nothing stood up except for an intense C-shaped thing; intecourse runs the risk of pregnancy – so although not uninformed the pair were stupid. I would say that intercourse is intended to be within marriage but I recognize that is an unpopular concept these days. However, the knowledge of pregnancy prevention is well known and easily obtained; I can’t understand the parents behaviour on either side. Am I judgemental? Maybe, but I sought to help without verbalized criticism to anyone except for the young man, who was like a son to me. Certainly I didn’t reject him.

I loved treating kids. Under the line are some of my ‘kids’. I challenge you to look at them and see them as real people! You will see some dressings but no open wounds.

Continue reading “Pictures or Words?”

Living in Another Culture

I can’t vouch for the absolute truth of all of this, but a lot of people escaped from the Crusade wars in what is the Israel area of today, via a slightly circuitous route through Ethiopia. The evidence offered to support this ‘theory’ is twofold. Firstly, St George, the patron saint of England, is held in very high esteem in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Interestingly he is supposed to have died eight times and risen from the dead seven times. I don’t know of any scientific proof of this. Secondly there are many Tudor roses carved into the walls of the stone churches in the north. Many of the fleeing Crusaders, it is suggested, helped out in carving out these magnificent structures.

I suspect that some of these fleeing Crusaders tried to teach the Ethiopians some basic English words and mathematical terms. But I guess they either weren’t very good teachers or time has dimmed the past scholastic abilities. They remember the word ‘chin’ but now use it for the ‘thigh’ as we call the upper part of the lower limb. They remember the word ‘feet’ but have transposed the word to the other end of the body, and use it for the face. I’m pretty sure that they taught them also the other parts of the face, they almost got ‘eye’ correct and say ‘eyne’. They all know what their mouth is for but forgot the word for nose. This is where their maths lessons came into play. (I suspect some of the English may have been cockneys) so they named the nose ‘arfincha’ because it is an ‘alf an inch’ above the mouth. Sounds reasonable, but I’m not absolutely sure of the truth of it.

I did have a man whose lover bit off a large part of his nose, I guess that is maybe why we usually make love after a meal, so that people aren’t hungry. It was a 3 stage procedure to repair his nose. I’ve put a couple of pictures below the line. I also have a picture of a lower lip bitten off by a hungry lady. But I’ll save that for another day.

Continue reading “Living in Another Culture”

Walking Down Memory Lane

African sunset

I try not to just live on memories. But I sleep a lot; walk slowly with a stick; or if the family goes out together they take me in a wheelchair to speed things up. I still can think clearly (or so I think) and I don’t find it easy to hand over all the control to a son who does almost everything about the place. He’s gracious and I’m trying – maybe in two senses of the word!

But memory lane is mostly pleasant to walk down. I’ve been transferring slides and photographs onto my computer and it has been a bit tedious but full of memories. Here are a few of them.

OV dams from hill copy

I used to own much of the land seen in this photo, but most of it is now sold. Some of the money enables us to live, but much has been invested in lives in Ethiopia. Those lives are very pleasant to remember and the memories give great joy. Some were sick; some were destitute; some needed education, but all were real people, and needed loving. Not always emotional love, but rather helping love. Some are dead already, I guess, but the money and effort was not wasted.

OV house 1 copy
When I was in Australia for several years, about 35 years ago, I bought this old house for $3,000 and we had it transported. It still stands today looking much better and surrounded by trees. 

My computer collection of pictures begins from over sixty five years ago. I didn’t get a camera until I was in my older teens, so although there are a few photos of even great grandparents, mostly the photos start from when I met an amazingly beautiful young teenager. I started to ‘chase’ her from the day I first met her! We will have been married for fifty eight years come December. I’ve got about two thousand more slides and many photos to go through. What a lot of memories still to come!

street huts copy
Sorry about the focus, but these are the street huts people were living in on the street opposite the main government hospital in Addis Ababa.

Eth OR 01 copy
And this was one of the operating rooms that first greeted me in 1994

a day's operating copy
This is a list of one day’s emergency surgical admissions. The writing is terrible, but listed below it reads disease-wise ….

appendicitis; intestinal obstruction; intestinal obstruction, volvulus; acute appendicitis; Peritonitis from perforated duodenal ulcer; appendiceal abscess; stab wound to the abdomen; rectal fistula; oesophageal cancer; penetrating abdominal knife wound. Most of these would have needed surgery the same day except the oesophageal cancer which would need work up and time.

Yakob copy
As a baby I found him, deserted,  being swept around on the floor of the paediatric ward.

Now he has a tertiary education and this should mean a satisfying life.

Money is useful if you use it wisely. Memories are more precious!

Dominic Cartier

Tom is Alive

African sunset

None of us men could even begin to imagine what it would be like. Maybe you ladies could. Try to imagine living in a family; being the first of four wives all living in the same compound; there are plenty of kids from babies to teenagers; you’ve delivered fourteen babies and they’re all dead.

M family home
Usually the husband had the largest house and each wife with her children had a smaller one.

Now you’re pregnant again and your heart is so full of hope!

Your husband loves you, but you share that love with three other wives. The months go past, your belly fattens, the kicks start coming, your hope and your fears grow and jostle in your mind. Seven months gone, only two more to go. A few days pass and your waters break. Oh, no, surely not another so tiny that it won’t survive,

But your husband loves you, so, although babies are usually born at home, he gets a horse and cart and takes you to the nearby infidel’s hospital so that maybe you’ll get a live one at last. He does really love you.

They have funny customs, but they look after you and you deliver a scrap that when you see him you can’t believe that he can live, and he certainly wouldn’t have in your home. They take him away from you. Not to say they are nasty, they care for you, express your breasts (both of them) and feed him through a little tube down his nose. They make another uterus for him out of a card-board box lined with cotton wool. They put an electric light in the end to keep his new home warm. They run oxygen into the box at first but after a few weeks decide he doesn’t need it any more.

IMG_2937 copy 2
About this size he was taken home.

One of the foreign women takes him to her house each night because she explains that she wants to make sure he gets his 2-hourly feeds at night. You can see she loves both of us and wants him to live. You learn her name is ‘Hirut’ but lots call her ‘Ruth’. Her own two boys love to come and watch him with you. They love him, you can see, like a brother.

Gradually they teach you to sponge him down, and to feed your own milk down the little tube. Eventually you’re allowed to hold him for a while. He holds your finger; he pees into your face as only little boys can; he takes your heart in his hands and your hope grows. But then goes back into his box.

Then your breasts dry up and they start to feed him in a powder from a tin which they mixed with boiled water and let him drink from a bottle with a breast slipped over the end. They teach you to test the warmth of the milk substitute by dropping a bit onto your wrist. They always clean up the bottle and the little ’breast’. They explain this is necessary and teach you how to do it properly. They explain it is very necessary to do all this.

He’s soon no longer living in his box. They teach you to do it all so well. He grows so beautiful. You see Hirut would love to keep him, she has spent so many nights and so much effort, but she just encourages you and gives him lots of little clothes that her own boys wore. All the hospital love and they call him Tom. He kicks, he laughs, he cries, He’s beautiful. It’s time to take him home. The nurses give you a little party and then your loving man takes you home. Everyone there is excited for you and they love him.

Five days later, he’s running a temperature; another two days later little Tom is dead.

No one at home boiled bottles and their water came from the creek in which people bathed and near which they did their ‘business’. He got diarrhoea, started vomiting and died.

Later you got the courage to go back to the hospital and told them the news – they cried with you, and hugged you and loved you. As you left you missed hearing them say to one another ‘It was all our fault. We should never have been so clean.’

But sadly, Tom is dead.