Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"al-Qaida" in fractions

May 24

Left: Musa and Suhail studying for Suhail's math test.

The first case that came into the ER was a deep slice out of someone's foot, he was in his late teens or early twenties and worked as a stone cutter. Some machine destroyed his right foot, broke a section out of the second and third metatarsals, which were exposed, and seemed to have damaged the extensor digitorum longus tendon (do I remember the anatomy correctly?) but didn't sever it. I'm sure he went straight to surgery. He was hysterical even after analgesics. I wish I had a picture of it, it was one of the craziest injuries I’ve seen yet.

Another interesting case was an old woman with pancreatic cancer of some kind. She'd had it untreated for two years, one of the doctors said the normal prognosis even with treatment is six months. She was very old, I’m sure she was over 90, but the family said they wanted her resuscitated no matter what, so they ran CPR on her for a while, but it was hopeless. It took ten minutes just to find a vein that would take a needle of any size. It was the first time I’ve watched someone die. It wasn’t as personally eventful as I thought it would be and as other people had made it out to be.

At home Suhail was studying with Musa for tomorrow’s math test. They were studying fractions and Musa kept saying “al-Qaida” over and over again. I couldn't figure out why, but then I remembered that al-Qaida means “base”, so I’m sure it also means “denominator” or something along those lines. A culture clash waiting to happen…