Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Cameroon Nurses vs American Nurses.
I was recently sick after 24 years of being sickness free. It bothered me a lot. An African proverb says, “If a child does not find out what killed its father, that same thing will kill it too.” I know that I dove very badly into the pool and hurt the side of my stomach that caused me the blood clot, but I could not be indifferent to the treatment I received from the medical staff of Banner Gateway Medical Center in Mesa, Arizona. That is what I am going to share with you. I want to compare their treatment with what I received and heard people receive in Cameroon.
I was very surprised to see that the nurses constantly came into my room during the day. At night, they were still checking on me. In Cameroon, the nurses would not even visit you. They will only come if you bribe them. They will sit there and cut their nails. Those who pretend to go to church will be reading their church hymnals or “cantiques de victoire.” Cell phones were not rampant in Cameroon in the 90s when I was last sick; however, I do remember that the nurses spent their time visiting with other nurses who had left their wards. They will say things like, “J’ai épousé un chien, il lèche ici, et il lèche la bas. Il lèche par tout, ma sœur !” Her colleague will say, « Mon car est diffèrent; c’est ma belle-mère qui va me tuer dans la maison là. »While life may be different form privately owned hospitals, but my description is exactly what you will find in every government owned hospital. Look at Laquintini in Douala and Hospital Général in Yaoundé, aren’t they the microcosms of my descriptions?
In America, my nurses will come in and check my IV to make sure I am taking the required dose. If it stopped, I had to only press a button, and they will rush in. In Cameroon, the nurse will steal that IV to sell it to another patient, at times in the same very hospital or to cronies and strangers in the neighborhood. If you called them, they’ll not even come! They will look at you and say, “Your friends have died since, what are you waiting?” The nurses in America beg you to take your medication. Sometimes as if the devil was mocking me, the patients will refuse to take their medication, and the staff will be begging them. The patients in Cameroon want to take their medications, but their nurses do not give them. The patients in America do not want the medications, but their nurses cajole or pamper them or at times even secure a court order for them to take them. The nurse in Cameroon will instead be very happy if a patient does not want to take his or her medication. If you want to take all your medications, she will get very angry with you. She will say, “Hey mister, you will die very soon trying to eat medicine like candy. Are medicines now your new bonbon?” It is not because she cares so much; she wants you not to take the medications so that she will sell the rest. I always laughed when my nurses asked me to take my medication in front of them because they want to make sure I actually took them. The Cameroon nurses will even shorten your dosage. If you were to take ten tablets in the morning, they will give you 4 and keep the rest for themselves. That is how some of them have pharmacies without suppliers, or they are suppliers without buying medicines.
Have you been to the maternity in America? The nurses pamper those women as if they drank the pregnancy through their mouths. “If a woman does not fear the penis, why would she fear delivery?” Our people will say. Cameroon nurses take it to another level. They will say, “Ashuka ngong gori; when you were taking it, it was sweet. Now you are screaming ayooh bandeeeh, ayooh bandeeh like a little girl. Was I there when you were taking it? Please push the child out and stop trying to break my eardrums.” She will lecture the expectant mother. Those in America will say, “Oh strong girl, push once more! Oh, I can see the baby, he is coming! Oh yeah, you can do it, push and push!” At times, your husband is right there holding your hands as if delivery is now a community affair. If your husband or you did not bribe the Cameroon nurses, they will not even be around when you deliver your baby. They will be in their rooms. Now that even dogs have cell phones, I hear that they will be on their cell phones. They will be saying things like, “I want to go to America one day, mahh ma! I will shake my buttocks like Beyoncé, and I will work 18 hours a day until they drive me home.” Some of them actually fulfil their dream. When they come here, they work 80 hours a week. That is why only African nurses work most holidays in our US hospitals. They don’t know the word vacation.
One time, when my nurse was coming to inject me while I was still in Cameroon, she stood almost a mile as if she was aiming for the bull’s eye. Then she threw the injection that landed on my dry buttocks, and I screamed, "ai, ai, ai, ai, ooohhh!” She turned to me and said, “Tais-toi! Tu te comportes comme une femme.” It means, “Shut up, you behave like a woman.” Michele and Andrea at the Banner Gateway Medical Center in America will say, “Hello Hamilton, I am going to make you a little uncomfortable. I am going to prick you a little bit; you will feel a little tingling on our skin.” While she is doing that, she is asking you what you like. Despite my trypanophobia or aichmophobia (pick your choice), I would not even realize that they had given me an injection.
Those women at the Banner Gateway hospital did their job as their calling. They held conversations with me; albeit to my chagrin because I wanted to sleep. Being in the hospital, I could only sleep with my one eye closed, so I woke up every time someone came in. I was fascinated with the care the people showed me. Nurse after nurse, case worker, chaplain, doctor and specialist came in to check on me as I laid in bed pondering on why I was sick in the first place. In Cameroon, the doctor was like God and the nurses his angels that you could barely see. Americans are really blessed; I hope they know that. You can just reverse it now and say, “Cameroonians are really cursed; I hope they know that.”
Until then, I just wish that Cameroonians will change their mentality.
St Arrey of Ntenako
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