Thursday, August 10, 2006

Family News from Baghdad: Breast Cancer, Watered Down Fuel and Army Checkpoint Troubles

My husband's grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer about a month ago and underwent a mastectomy this past Sunday in Baghdad. My husband emailed me a note about how the operation went. My grandmother in law is back home after her surgery, awaiting news on her next course of treatment. Part of the medical philosophy that is essential to good healthcare is that half of a patient's cure comes from his emotional and psychological well-being. I would say that this is mainly manifested in clean hospitals/clinics. For Baghdadis, this essential aspect of healthcare is non-existant, even for those willing to pay more for a better hospital. Read on for my husband's quick account of his past couple of days in Baghdad.

My grandma had a rough time subhanAllah. First they took her to Zuhour Hospital in Harthiyyah where the anesthesiologist (the only one available in the area) refused to give general anesthesia so they took her to Salamah Hospital in Yarmouk. She had left the house at 8 am and this was now around 12:30 pm. They actually started the operation around 1:30 pm and it lasted almost 1:30 hours. The doctor said that he removed every cancerous growth that he could find and that the biopsy would determine the next course of action, though chemotherapy might be difficult because she is old and because the drugs are not easy to come by (!!!).
Also, the hospital was miserable, it was a private hospital and supposedly one of the best, but it was filthy. One of my aunts joked that it is considered clean because you don’t see moving creatures immediately which is the case in other hospitals (My note: I've been to this hospital and its depressing at best). After she finished surgery literally the whole hospital came up into the room wishing her (good) health and of course begging for money. Anas distributed 45000 ID in baksheesh (tips). Almost 20 minutes later some lady comes bursting through the door and says “I am from the laundry... you guys gave everyone and you did not give me!"
Then two more ladies came in trying to find something to do, one of them starts playing with the curtains pretending to straighten them out and the lady opens and closes the closet door acting as if she was doing something and of course they had both come in to get money it was really sickening. The day was exceptionally hot…easily 125 degrees and the electricity was coming 1 hour and cutting off for 5-6, the airconditioners only worked on electricity and not generator so my poor sick grandma did not really sleep that night (This is where she's supposed to be recuperating!!!). Her and Aunt W spent the night sweating. The next day I went to pick her up about 11 am to take her home and then another bunch of people showed up wanting money, especially some bandage guy whom W had already given 5000.
Our way home was pretty uneventful except that the Army has setup a checkpoint right in front of Mamy’s (grandmother's) house so we have to get their permission to park (in front of the house) and let her out! They throw garbage at the door, they take bribes in the form of gasoline and diesel from drivers then force my uncle to store it for them (in grandmother's house). They knock on the door even at 11:30 at night asking for cold water and tea then they throw their trash right in front of the door.
Anyway, she seems to be feeling better and we are now waiting for the results of the biopsy.
I am still awake because we just got done fixing the generator at 1:15 am. It was not working because they had bought a barrel of diesel that was mixed with water (cheated) so we pumped out the old diesel from the generator and we pumped in the new diesel that cost us 900,000 ($600- up from $400 in early June) for 1000 liters. Now the airconditioners are working again. It is important (that we got this done) because they are not working on regular electricity with only one phase coming and it is very weak.


Magda said...

Ma 3indha ila il 3afya, I hope the biopsy results are clear. How old is she? Tamoxifen may be useful even in the elderly.

Fatima said...

Thanks Magda. She's in her seventies, later seventies. I'll mention Tamoxifen to the doctor relations there, don't know if they have it.

Halla said...

I can't believe how the hospital staff acted? where is the humanity? The Poor woman, I hope they got everything out so that she doesnt have to endure chemo, especially over there! My prayers are with your family Fatima.

your hubby's sister said...

poor mamy.. God.. you guys didn't tell me it was that bad.. istaghfurAllah.. la hawla walla quwwata illah billah.. I wish she would just come here now, but its so difficult, subhan Allah. Tell bro to tell them all salaam from me.

EdoRiver said...

Thank you for telling us your family's news. Cancer is all around us. All we can do is do something for someone while we are here on this earth. Our own time will come.

chet said...

I am sorry to hear about your husbands Grandmother, My prayers with be for her. Take care.

I don't comment much, but want to let you know I enjoy your blog. Keep it going.

Fatima said...

Thank you Chet, halla, and edoriver for your good wishes. Her biopsy results were better than expected, might take a light dose of chemotherapy. I'll keep you updated.

Janet said...

The situation in Iraq always bothers me. Aamzing story from Bagdad.

Anonymous said...

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Breast Cancer month