quarta-feira, 20 de julho de 2011

The Sweetest Eyes



Still about Congo….maybe the last story about Congo!

It has been more than a year , and I am still happy about writing about what I saw, what I lived, what I felt …. Why do I write ? I guess the main reason, is to help some who are in need…. Its also true, that I write because it makes feel good, and helps me to release some of the pressure, that from time to time tends to eat me inside…. Pressure caused by the fact that life really sucks for some, and we just don’t give a fuck!!! The world will never be perfect for all, and we all know that, but the fact that some are worried because they can not afford a BMW, and some others at the same time are worried about staying alive, its just too much…. The physical pain of being shot at, the psychological pain of being raped or watching your children dye of starvation…. And all that because we don’t know or don’t care or a bit of both… How selfish can we be?  My intention is not to give anybody a lecture about humanity, my intention is to share my thoughts and to tell you life stories about people whose lives, should make us think about what is really important…. and to motivate you to care about the human being, because we are all the same, and we all need each other…

This is a powerful story…. The one that I am about to tell you …. And its one of the many examples of the horrible things that happen in this horrible war !! Yes there is a war going on in Congo…. Did you know that ???? Maybe not, it has so many years of war that its not on the news anymore, if ever was... Just another stupid example…. did you know that more NATO soldiers dyed in Afghanistan in 2010, than the “official” years of the Afghanistan war…..and 10 times more than the ones killed in 9/11…. It makes you think…. and the Afghans that already died in that war are maybe 100 times more…… It makes you think….. Anyway, there is a war in Congo, and if every person that reads my blog, at least realizes that the worst war since Word War II was/is in Congo and nobody gives a shit, I feel that my goal was accomplished …. I guess , I am not asking to much… one step at a time !

The story now…..


Just another day at work…. And I am called by the radio with the information that some injured people are arriving…. A man, a woman and a baby, all with gunshot wounds from Kalashnikov…. A humble family, was attacked by the army, the Congolese army, the ones that were suppose to protect them, entered their hut, with the intention to rob them, and god knows why, started shooting, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,…. Its hard to imagine, even for me after seeing the wounded family, how this men are able to do such a thing…. Its what war does to people, the same way that we all saw those American soldiers (a bit more educated than the Congolese) shooting those innocents, including children from the helicopter in Iraq (the famous video that was shown by wikileaks)…. Killing becomes normal I guess, for them….

Do you know the first thing that crosses my mind?!? The same thing that crossed my mind while receiving many others!?!? That they were very lucky! Lucky that the bullet didn’t kill them, many times just by a centimetre…. They were not only lucky, they were THE lucky ones, because many more are shot every day and are nobody’s story… just dead… And the ones that I treated all have amazing stories, because they were part of a small minority that were shot and didn’t dye!

Back to the “lucky” family that was robbed and shot…. The baby was no more than 3, very “lucky”, was shot in the Thorax, but “just” a flesh wound … Sometimes you can dye from it, because if not cleaned surgically it infects almost always, and then things can go really the wrong away… but that was not the case. We took him to the operation room, opened the wound , made sure that we removed every bit of flesh that was touched by the bullet, open the wound even more…like 10 times more than the original holes…. And clean and clean again, a couple of days after, you do it again and remove any signs of infection, and if everything goes well, after a few “trips” to the operation room, you start closing the wound as the final step to recovery…. Yeap…. Even a flesh wound caused by a bullet is very demanding to save a person’s life… in his case the 3 year old baby….. of course everything gets more complicated in this “lost world” hospital, where the hygienic conditions were very far from the ideal…

Then the “lucky” father, was also very “lucky”, not exactly a flesh wound , but the bullet went in and out of the upper part of the thigh, without touching the bone… If it touches, and breaks of course the bone everything gets 1000 times more complicated… if you are so lucky not to loose your leg or arm… But it was not the case, this “lucky” man had no bone fracture, but what looks like an entry and exit wound, turns into a completely open air anatomy show of structures of the upper thigh….( I will not show the pictures as they might be too impressive)!

(after 6 months , and in the middle a Pakistani experience yet to be told, I continue this story… Its all in my mind, so I guess that this continuation could be a lot different if written when it was started…)
 
So, the upper thigh of the “lucky” father, gave us many more hours in the operation room, every second day for a while, we took him to the OT for  cleaning and debridement, but I guess I can say that his life was never in danger…

The same I cant say for the “lucky” mother…. God knows how it was possible, she had 3 holes in her body of just one bullet…. The bullet entered the upper part of her breast, exit through the lower part of the breast, and went in again to the abdomen cavity….with no other exit hole… This is easy a situation that could be life threatening, a big challenge to the Surgeon, and quite a big challenge for me as an Anesthesiologist in those conditions…. The abdomen had to be opened in order to find the lost bullet and fix whatever damages have been made…. This “lucky” woman, was indeed quite “lucky” as the bullet didn’t damage any important organ or vessel, and was lodge behind the colon, in a tough place to find but not causing any irreversible destruction….
Until today I keep that rusty bullet with me…. Many times I look at it, and I get lost in my thoughts, remembering where that bullet came from, the small story behind that huge war, in the beautiful lost mountains of Eastern Congo, where life for many is a synonymous of WAR….

So they were all in the surgical ward, in the next days, with a crying baby, too young to understand why his family was suffering so much….. and next to him was his father, that besides the fact that his ass/thigh was destroyed but recovering quite well, probably is biggest problem was looking 24 hrs per day to his wife that despite being so “lucky” was struggling for her life for a few days , before passing to the "out of danger" side of my mind…. She gave me a lot of medical doubts that I tried to guess and solve the best I could  despite the lack of proper treatment conditions. This “lucky” family in general gave me many hours of work and worries, way beyond the medical issues…. But in my mind the cornerstone of this story will always be The Sweetest Eyes, I have ever seen….

It took me a while, as always to understand who was who in that overcrowded Surgical ward always full of patients and their family members….. But after a few days this 10 year old girl started to get my attention more and more…. As a sister, with a mother in a critical condition, and a father that couldn’t get out of the bed, she assumed full responsibility of the care her poor young brother that was shot in the thorax…. The only member of the family that wasn’t shot, as far as I know, spend as many hours in the hospital as her family members, and I guess living the drama of that family in a very hard way, specially for a 10 year old child…

Like always , communication was not possible due to the language barrier, so all I could take from her was what I saw in those eyes… She was tall , and slim, very independent and mature for her age….. I never saw her crying, even though life was not smiling at her for the moment…. She was quite shy, and many times observing me from a far distance…. Always caring her younger brother in her back, as any other woman is brought up to do in those areas….. And her eyes!!!, I got lost in her eyes, pictures can not tell, the clear beauty, the purity, the innocence ….of The Sweetest Eyes I have ever seen…. I think I never asked her name, but I will never forget her, looking at me when she was handling her brother to me, when he was about to be operated again, she felt much more mature than most of the adults, trusting me the responsibility of her brother, that she took care every minute of the day…. And after the surgery when I gave him back to her, she looked at me as she was telling me….” I am too young for all this pain, but I am tough, and I will handle it”…. I felt that it was easier to communicate with her just by looking in each others eyes, than with many by words….

Its amazing how mature can a kid be …. it shouldn´t be that way…. but life is a bitch for sooo many….. and the more I look around, the more I see the lack of values of our society…. how easy we accept the lost of millions of humans, just like us, caused by the ambition of some….

There is a part of me that is starting to hate this world…. where words mean nothing, values mean nothing, life means nothing….. its selfishness, ambition, money and power….. no matter the crimes that are being committed, and the blood that is being shed …..that rule our world!!!


And we are all guilty for that!! Just by saying nothing, doing nothing….we are guilty!!

I wish, I could tell those sweet eyes that we, that come from the part of the world that has education, money and power, where trying to do something to avoid, the horrible situations that her family has been through, would happen again….. But I am afraid I cant tell her that….. I cant tell her that while we all appreciate more an Iphone, a modern car, a luxury hotel,…. than we appreciate a simple gesture as giving food and medicine to the ones that are dying like the millions in Somalia while I write this.

Why not stop looking at our mirror, and start looking around ?

Its not always easy to control my anger, but for fore this sweet, brave young girl.... will help me to find some peace in my heart as I saw all the kindness and sweetness of the world concentrated in Those Sweetest Eyes....
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