Thursday, October 05, 2006

Fistula Spatula

One thing that reeks nostalgia for me during sahur in Ramadhan is to watch Oprah Winfrey at 5am, Monday - Friday. Apart from this hour, I never seem to be able to catch any of her shows on Astro. Mungkin sebab tak coincide with me being at home, or her shows coincide with my other favourite shows on Astro.

Until this morning's show (which I reckon was filmed in January 2005), I never knew that the 'fistula' was a sickness. It sounded to me like some perkakas lab before... like a 'spatula' of some sort. Me bloody ignorant, that's what I am.

Well, in the show, Oprah went to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia, where they cure almost hundreds of fistula patients there. Some had to sell their homes to be able to get treatment; some had to walk miles in terrible pain and foul stench; others were rescued from their isolation.

I reckon, culture plays a part in it. Being impoverished nation, most of their people lack education and medical assistance is not within reach macam kat developed nations. They marry when they're very young (as young as 12), and when the women got pregnant, the family and husband would usually wait with her til she gives birth naturally.

And I mean, naturally. Like, there would be 4 to 7 days' of labour pain, which of course resulted in stillborns. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's during the very long unassisted labour that the head of the baby would press against the mother's pelvis, which would then cut off the blood supplies to the tissues around it, tissue mati & gugur, which in turn leave fistulas, or holes, between her rahim and pundi kencing or rectum. Then they'd have incontinence or uncontrollable faeces. And then the husband and family would isolate them, sometimes for years (like, in Oprah, a girl with fistula was locked up for 9 years!) or even thrown to the bushes because they stink.

Hence it's called 'Obstetric Fistula'.

Ish... aren't we all lucky that medical assistance can be obtained just about anywhere around the corner here in Malaysia??? Sakit PMS pun macam nak pitam-pitam (well, that's the nearest pain I could feel lah kan... tak pernah beranak lagi mah...), ini kan pula kalau sakit mecenggitu.

I also read the stories of the women with fistula from the Fistula Foundation
website. It seems like as if sakit ni macam perkara biasa je kat sana. Even on Oprah pun, the sufferers bercerita macam as-a-matter-of-fact je. Oprah (and the audience) pula yang terbeliak-beliak bijik mata in pure disbelief. Read on their stories here.

I guess, that's where education plays a huge part. A lot of these women plan to help educate the other women back at home with what they've learnt at the hospital. Culture, sometimes, can be so life-threatening and devastating, kan. For them, the practice of genital mutilation is common. Just like their use of the village doctor rather than the medical doctor during childbirth. Pasti ada sebab kenapa mereka tak modify this part of their culture in order to lessen pain.

Alhamdulillah kita tak dilahirkan di kalangan mereka.

There's 4,000,000 site if you Google 'fistula'. So, go read mkay.

f~

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