a new sbitar day, a few new insights

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on February 9, 2011

On cold mornings, I have a hard time getting out of bed. Pulling on an extra layer of pants. And pulling on my boots. And vest. And filling up a kettle to heat water. All before I brush my teeth.

Before I entered the sbitar today, I saw one of the more gentle women who works Tamounte standing outside the sbitar. I approached her with a “good morning.” She asked if the female doctor would be working today.

“I don’t know, “I replied. “Is kmmi tmridt? (Are you sick?) Kulsi mzyan? (Is everything okay?)”

“I’m bleeding a lot,” she tells me. “A lot, a lot.”

Without a doubt, that worries me. I already know the response to come but I ask anyway, “Maybe you can ask the (male) nurse?”

“No,” she says. “Do you know if the female doctor will be coming today?”

Again, I reply, “I don’t know.”

I talk to her for a few more minutes trying to find out more information. Turns out she’s bleeding more this month (or lately?) than she has previously. I think of what I know about females and menstruation. Think, think, think…how can I help her?

I remember that young girls who menstruate can experience irregular cycles and bleed a lot because their hormones levels are off and their bodies have not gotten used to menstruating. So, possibly going on a limb, I surmise that irregular cycles and excessive bleeding can happen when older women are about to enter menopause.

And I explain this to her in my basic Tashleheit.

“You know how, when women get older, their period goes away? Well, it’s possible that your body is getting ready to clean out the blood and you have a lot of blood now because your body is not accustomed to it [menopause] yet.”

She comprehends the gist of what I’m trying to say. Still, I tell her to go to the sbitar. She asks me to let her know if the female doctor works today. “Waxxa (okay),” I tell her, “I will.”

I walk into the sbitar and greet the male nurse. I ask him if the female doctor will be working today, loud enough so that the woman can hear. “Nope,” he tells me. “She’s working at the other sbitar today.” A moment later, I see the woman walk away, heading towards the argan cooperative for another day of work.

At the sbitar, the morning starts off slow because of the cold. Around mid-morning, vaccination day starts getting busy. Women and children are coming in to get their vitamins and shots.

New discovery: as I was asking women which douar (rural community) they live in, rather than tell me the official name that appears on maps and official government records, they would say “douar n [insert husband’s last name].” I found this odd because this usually doesn’t happen (or perhaps I haven’t noticed it before), so I had to ask for clarification a few times before I registered what was happening. Essentially, the women were telling me in which family’s compound or neighborhood they lived in, or the family name they married into. I mentioned in a past post that women here don’t take on their husband’s name when they get married; rather, they keep their maiden name and their children receive the husband’s family name. Hearing the women defer to their husband’s family threw me off today…it’s still not sitting well with me.

By 12:30pm, I’ve weighed 46 children. My nurse, who is diabetic and a smoker, is crabby. His sugar level is low (and he’s annoyed or, rather, overwhelmed, by the clamor of women).

I wish women were more willing to seek medical attention for themselves. I wish women weren’t afraid to ask medical professionals about their children’s health. I wish there wasn’t such a gender divides in the culture so that women could be properly treated for their ailments.

When I got home, I consulted the closest thing to a medical book: Where Women Have No Doctor. Phew, my guess was confirmed – women who are approaching menopause can experience abnormal amounts of bleeding during their monthly period. I hope the woman is feeling better.

Oh,  I have another thing to add on my wish list. I wish infidelity was less common here.

I walked around my village center to complete a couple errands. I’m more than sure I walked in on a man who was whispering into his cell phone to a woman who is not his wife. Where he was standing, the tone he was talking in, the body language he was giving off – ugh, I was disgusted by him. He has children too. Scumbag. The irony is that I haven’t heard good things about this father recently either.

There are good people – both females and males – here. It’s just unfortunate that the bad ones often overshadow the good ones.

I do wonder…What will my impression of males be at the end of these two years? Boys and men? Moroccan and non-Moroccan? American? Men of different cultures?

My guess is that this question has one of those only-time-can-tell answers.


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