I entered the wall-less, thatch-roofed waiting area of the clinic with my right hand in a ball of bandages, taped to my chest. The airy space was almost empty, without nurses or even a receptionist. The only other person in the little space, sitting very elegantly on one of the narrow wooden benches, was a woman in traditional West African dress who was quite pregnant.
The November Reflections essay in AJN is called “Surprise!” Its opening paragraph is above. This is one of our occasional Reflections essays by a writer who is not a nurse. In this case, the author Thomas Turman’s easy, self-deprecating tone, and the matter-of-fact manner in which his unexpected patient faces a situation that might induce a certain panic in many people from wealthier countries, feels just right.
The story reminds us that health care is, of necessity, not always the sole province of expert clinicians—and yet in a pinch we may sometimes muddle through, with the help of a little knowledge, some courage, and a lot of luck. Click the link to read the whole essay; it’s free.—Jacob Molyneux, senior editor