Friday, November 12, 2010

The unkindest cut of all

Yesterday morning I had a patient for about an hour post-partum. Lovely woman with the purest, sweetest smile. I walked in to meet her and found her baby ravenous at her breast, cooing in between gulps.

I read in her chart that she was from Somalia and while I wanted to ask her how she came to be in the States, it just never came up.

When the babe was whisked away to the nursery for his bath, it was time to get my peaceful, happy patient up to the bathroom to pee, change her gown and get washed up.

I'm a bit of an over-achiever when it comes to assessing perineums after delivery. While the mom is perched on the toilet, I hunker down like Johnny Bench with my peri-bottle filled with warm water and get a good look at the situation. Holy-fucking-bat-shit-craziness-from-hell. I was not prepared for what I saw. Was. Not. Prepared.

The nurse I got report from is a bit of a dolt and often leaves out pertinent pieces of information. I know this, so I am always geared up to do extra work when I take over on of her patients.

Yesterday, though? Yesterday I wanted to reach out and punch that nurse square in her face for neglecting to tell me that this woman had been subjected to a full, radical, female circumcision.

I wanted to curl up and cry right there on the bathroom floor. I'll never, never forget it.

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