Drunk at the Market, Failure at the Clinic

Thursdays always start like a rocket shooting off to the moon for me.  My goal is to exercise, have worship, fix breakfast, go to the market, shower and be up at the school by 8:15 (2nd period).  Makes me tired just writing all of that.  Going to the market is at least an hour trip for me and usually I pick up and drop off my friend Lalah, so that takes more time too.  So this Thursday was another typical morning for me.  Lalah and I usually go our separate ways once we arrive to the market and know what time and where to meet at the end of our shopping trip.  My usual wheelbarrow man had just returned from a long 3 month stent in his village.  He greeted me in the parking lot.  BaPak John knows my route, so he caught up with me after I had already shopped for 20 minutes.  Lots of work was coming his way, so I encouraged him to keep working and asked him if in 10 minutes he could follow me to the front of the market, picking up my purchased goods along the way.  He nodded his head in agreement.  Knowing that there would be a bag full of potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, onions, limes, etc., a rack of eggs, several papaya, and 2 frozen chickens (for the dogs) all at different little stands.  I knew I could trust him.


Meanwhile I made my way to the front of the market.  Cutting through the meat and fish section.  I always cringe at the cement through this section as it is covered with blood and attempts of it being washed with sprinklings of water.  The butchers are a unique group of mainly men.  They always call out to me to buy their fresh cut slabs of fish.   Laughing when I walk past.  Then I dodge through a narrow alley way, where many little hovels of homes are.  Broken boards lie across nasty drainage water.  Along with many roosters tied up and more little stands selling all of the same things that hundreds more people are selling: little piles of tomatoes, onions, etc.  It is always in this small alley that I question my relationship with the poor, because here the poor are.  Their pitiful homes, the lack of proper sanitation, the few strangles of clothes drying…..less then one minute I am there…..but it impacts me for hours, days, months….

To the front of the market I arrive.  50 plus sellers sitting side by side, selling more goods.  Can you imagine sitting on a cement floor all morning selling your cucumbers, your eggplant, your bananas, your squash?  I had just finished purchasing a stalk of bananas when a man grabbed ahold of my hand.  This was no gentle, “Glad you came to church today”, hand shake.  This was a, “Ha-ha…..I’ve got you now Missy, and you are not going anywhere”, hand shake.  It took all of .025 of a second to understand that this man was drunk.  His crooked hat.  His stained beetle nut teeth.  His slurred speech that was so slurred he was into his second sentence before I comprehended he was speaking English to me, not Indonesian.  Slurring on about his wife who was sick in the hospital and how he needed money.  I began to wonder how I was going to get away.  My heart rate picked up.  All the sellers were watching in curious suspense.  In my heart I asked God for help. The man asked for 100,000rp (roughly $10.00).  In Indonesian I told the man, “Yes, just a minute.”  He let go.  I turned to run.  He grabbed me again.  Again I repeated, “Yes, just a minute.”  He dropped my arm again and I moved faster.  Now sitting sellers were standing, saying, “Nyonia, cepat. (Mam, hurry/fast)”.  He caught me again and I yelled out in Indonesian, “DO NOT DO THIS!” and I escaped again and headed for a very crowded place and weaved in and out of all the people, pushing through the crowd….saying, “Permisi, Permisi (excuse me, excuse me)”. 


At last I was free.  I didn’t stop to check my heart rate, but if I had failed to get it up high enough on my earlier morning run for cardiovascular benefit it was now flying.  I finished purchasing needed veggies and fruits…..all the time looking out for my predator.  Several different people came up to me and assured me that he was in a different part of the market and what a problem drinking was.  BaPak John came with the wheelbarrow filled with my already purchased goods.  I shared with him my experience and he was careful to stay close by me for the rest of the time.  Soon Lalah and I were on our way home and I was able to debrief with her.  Great therapy.

The day didn’t slow in progression.  As we made it to school and then back home.  Homeschool until lunch and then finish up home school after lunch.  At last it was time for this Mommy, teacher and  housewife to go and “play”.  Clinic time!!!!  YES!  Put the nurse hat on (which consisted of a fresh pair of clothes, a little make up, new deodorant…..which is helpful to apply frequently here, and a pair of flip flops).  I already had heads up that maybe I would get to do a mole removal with a punch biopsy.  This is a very simple procedure, but all relatively new to me in my scope of nursing practice.  This would be my third time.  It requires numbing the patient and then once a sterile environment and tools are ready using a little tool that you press down onto the patients skin and it literally “punches out” the mole.  One then lifts the mole with tweezers and snips at the base and finishes the procedure with one stich. 

My patient was a very kind vibrant woman who has been here since 1999.  She informed me that she would need to lie down as even having her blood drawn can sometimes make her pass out.  I asked her if she minded if I did the procedure instead of Dr. Di.  She lied and said she didn’t.  JK!  I don’t think she lied but she probably wasn’t THRILLED!!!!!  Bless all the dear people who allow us newbies these opportunities.  Dr. Di assured me she was standing by if I needed her and reviewed the procedure with me. After my patient was numb and everything was in order I picked up the sterile punch.  As I pressed the punch into the ladies skin it didn’t feel like it was cutting.  I lifted the punch and it appeared to have only made an indention not a cut.  Compared to the last TWO I had done, this seemed different.  After trying several times, pressing harder each time I laid down the punch and keeping my hands sterile, opened the door with my arms to get my trusty mentor, Dr. Di. 

She quickly comes to my aid, asking first to watch me.  So I attempt again.  Nothing.  Then Dr. Di gloves in.  She rocks and presses that punch with more energy then I dared.  Nothing.  Mandy hands us a new punch.  Press.  Cut.  Done.  Dr. Di leaves the room while I sew up the little hole.  (Dear Mother’s who have tried to teach me to sew:  I don’t love sewing with fabric, but I find it very rewarding to sew on patients.  Though their skin is a little tough and the string is coarse).  Patient sit up and walks out, thanking us.  Which is awfully kind after having a student learner and a failed instrument. 

By 8:00 I slip into bed.  Darron is out on the lake, preaching his 5th night of evangelistic meetings with many of the other local pastors in many different locations (I’m sure he will blog on it when he can).  He pulls into the driveway after 10.  It’s been a very long day.  The rooster will crow at 4 a.m.  Grateful for the Lords protection through another day and good outcomes in our clinic.  Sleep, please come.


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