I am here to describe my experience as a nurse in the ER. At first, I thought I would spend my first week in training in the pediatrics section or even better with the premies. However on July 16, I was destined suddenly through a series of coincidences into the ER. The moment I set foot in there I was shocked not by the filth -even though that truly was a problem- but rather the treatment how there is suddenly this huge gap between the person who wears a lab coat and the common citizen. These people enter this hospital in seek of help, of assistance, even if this is a public hospital they are still live beings who deserve their fair share of care. My mother has always been a strong believer that hospitals aren’t the answer, hence, I’ve never entered a hospital here in Yemen. This experience gave me a broad vision of the reality of my country. No, this isn’t because of the coalition. Yes, there are a lot of bumps on the road due to the coalition, but to know that people no longer have an ounce of humanity left in them can't be blamed on anyone. They’ve just become walking masses, no different than a mountain or a rusty rock. I couldn’t find a cannula or a needle. There are no gloves, sanitizers, tourniquets, and these are only some of the basics of a hospital.
These poor, helpless patients must go out under the hot sun to buy a needle, or a cannula. He could be dying -yes, some doctors are kind enough to use their own money to go and buy the needed tools- but otherwise they are helpless patients. If they are elderly and have no one by their side, they are left there unattended. On my first day, a woman was finally diagnosed with MI, something that could’ve been handled in the golden hours but no one cared, no one gave the time. So, there she was trying to gather her belongings and leave because what good is a diagnosis with no care?
The problem I’ve come to realize is not that there aren’t enough human resources (labor force), but rather there are soul-less humans. I do understand that they believe that they are underpaid, but this is not an ordinary situation, this country is under nonstop air raids and a severe land, sea, air blockade. Regardless, the moment you step into the medical society you vow to be a human, you vow to save lives not only for a price, but for the mere concept of saving a life.
I’ve seen so many things that have teared my heart into a million little pieces and other things that made me smile from my heart. I am always left stunned about how kind, genuine, and pure Yemenis are, as a trainee sometimes the nerves get to me and I apologize about a hundred times when I fail to apply a cannula on the first attempt and their reply is always the same: “It’s okay! You’ll get it next time, it’s okay! You have to make mistakes in the beginning.” These gestures helped me move forth or else I wouldn’t have step a foot back to that graveyard of a hospital. I would've spent the rest of my training crying on my bed knowing how much brutality and pain was set behind those four walls It hurts me to know that they are so used to being in pain that they don't mind a trainee shoving a cannula up and down their arms in search of a vein. It's terrible to know that this is how hospitals are all over Yemen, and the amount of sick people is incredible, almost unimaginable. A true crisis, a scream for help.
The ER is a place of wonder it’s the line between life and death, the more time I spent there the more I believed God is taking special care of this country because there is no valid reason these people aren’t dead. I mean after all, all the odds are truly against them: unsanitized tools and rooms, no sharps containers. How else are they alive? We all know that hospitals are where most diseases are spread from yet here we are..
Yes, my first week was a disaster but I met some of the loveliest people who prayed for me as I walked them to the clinic; the elderlies who come alone are usually above 75. So, I’d walk them to wherever they needed to be, why? I asked my supervisors what to do and they'd tell me “Just ignore them until they leave, it’s not out problem if they came without an escort.” How could you possible ignore an 80 year old man who has problems hearing, who walks using a stick as a crane and whose eyes are blurred from glaucoma? As we walked to the clinic I asked why he came alone. He told me he only had a son who worked as a farmer and if he were to come to the hospital they’d take away a part of his modest salary, that probably doesn’t exceed 50$ -if he’s lucky of course- and his daughter in law was about to give birth and couldn’t assist him. He said none of this with sadness rather his blurry eyes glimmered when he spoke of his soon to be grandchild. In the end we are all the same, whether poor or rich, we all feel the same feelings, fear the same fears. So, how would I possibly leave him there? How can they see someone so frail and just let them be? I am sure these people were once humans with emotions just like you and I, I just can't seem to validate why they've become so ruthless, so cold, so cruel. We got to the clinic and it was closed because the “Doctor” went to “eat” and won’t be back for a few hours, the old man told me he’ll be back in a few days for some sort of heart test, and I told him to wait till then to see the doctor in the clinic. He continued to pray for me, genuine prayers as we parted; myself to the ER and him to his next stop in the unknown. It’s people like him who make the world seem so much colder, so much darker, so much harder; the fact that there was all this pain and suffering in my country without my knowledge makes me feel like I’m a part of the reason my people are in so much pain. I feel guilty as if I've been solely charged for mass murder.