Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Girlfriend Bite!

(Post written by Guest Author Jessica Leong who is on a short term trip here in Sudan!)

A busy day in wound care. I seem to be the wound care consultant. I’m not too sure how I got that job besides the couple weeks I’ve spent performing wound care on the Sudanese people that come into the clinic. Anytime somebody comes in with a cut or bite or burn, I get the chance to participate in the decisions of how to treat it.

Melissa was working in registration that afternoon. She came into my room asking me to take a look at this bite that this man had on his ankle. I asked how it happened and she stated that it was from his girlfriend. I immediately thought how bad this could be because of the increased chance of infection that a human bite has versus an animal bite.

I walk outside to see a man pointing to his ankle. It looked a little bit swollen, but there were no teeth marks. So again we asked what happened and again we got the same response. The man was bit by his girlfriend.

“What kind of girlfriend bites a man’s ankle?” I thought. Anyway, I had to believe the man. So I looked down at his ankle again, convincing myself that I must have not seen the teeth marks the first time. But again, I see nothing except a small amount of inflammation. I tell the man that he must wait behind all the other patients due to the fact that his injury was not very serious.

We ask again, this time the men around keep saying “girlfriend, girlfriend,” or so Melissa thought. I finally figured out that they were saying “scorpion,” not girlfriend (the “p” and “f” sound very similar when spoken by a Sudanese). Oh, well a scorpion bite! That makes much more sense! Of course this man is hurting. Of course his ankle is swollen. Of course he wasn’t bitten by his girlfriend.

Come to find out, the Dinka language does not have a word for girlfriend, so they were not even understanding us when we kept repeating back to them, “girlfriend?”

Oh the misunderstandings that occur between two people groups and two languages.

Girlfriend? No. Scorpion.