Monday, August 21, 2006

A Bulgarian-Libyan nightmare

I had to do blood and urine tests this morning, so last night I prepared for it - asked my mother in-law to look after my son, put inside the bag the "redirection papers" from my doctor. Then I blogged till late at night, in fact till early morning. The last person I exchanged comments with was Libyan girl Highlander.
Falling asleep, I was still thinking about the tests and the "conversation" with Highlander. The combination "blood testing - Libya" produced one of these dreams which, while far from the logic of the awakened state, have a logic and insight of their own. I dreamed I was already in the medical center, sitting on a chair and preparing to give a blood sample. I was looking what the nurse was doing. In reality, I never do this - I prefer to look in another direction while people are drawing my blood, because I don't endure the sight very well. But that was not reality.
The nurse was holding a syringe and reached out to take a needle. But the needles were not in the neat individual sterile packages they had to be. Instead, there was a transparent plastic box of the type ice-cream is sold in. Bulgarian housewives often wash and reuse these boxes. This one was full of needles. They didn't even look very clean. The upper ones had attached pieces of what looked like fruit cake. The bottom of the box was covered by a thin layer of syrup. (I know needles are expected to be contaminated with blood. Don't ask me why it was syrup.)
I said, "But you must use disposable sterile needles! These here have been used and then haven't been sterilized, they haven't even been washed!"
The nurse opened a drawer, took out two needles in sterile packages and showed them to me.
"See, this is all we have," she said. "And we keep them, in case a foreigner or another important patient comes."
I opened my mouth to ask why I was considered unimportant, but at this point my brain decided enough was enough and I awakened.
One needn't be Freud to interpret this dream. It was derived from the event everybody thinks about when Bulgaria and Libya are mentioned together: the infection of more than 400 Libyan children with HIV, thought to be a result of reusing syringes, needles and other blood-handling equipment without sterilization. (Except in Libya, where the Q-man convinced most people that the infection was deliberately induced by six Bulgarian medics and a Palestinian doctor - it's amazing how Libyans still trust him.)
If you ask whether the nightmare had any prognostic value - no, it hadn't. When I actually went to the medical center, there were no dirty needles in ice-cream boxes.


shlemazl said...

Are the nurses back in Bulgaria now?

Highlander said...

No Schlemazl they are still being tried here.

Anonymous said...

I thought they had been extradited to Bulgaria and pardoned

Maya M said...

Yes, they had. This is an old post.

Anonymous said...

To interpret dreams and nightmares is really important, cause it helps you to understand yourself!

Maya M said...

This particular one was easy to interpret. I was pregnant, this was why I was making these tests. I feared that an eventual infection would harm not only me but also my fetus (hence the thought about the infected Libyan babies). Our hospitals have quite a poor record. During the last month, three newborn babies died of intra-hospital infections in Sofia. One succumbed to a multidrug-resistant Serratia strain in St. Sofia Maternity Hospital where I gave birth, and the other two were killed by unidentified pathogens in Maichin Dom Maternity Hospital, in the campus of the Medical University where I work. There have been many cases in other maternity wards also. I don't know one that I can recommend! My only advice to expectant mothers in Bulgaria - try to avoid all potential causes of premature delivery, because in most cases it is premature babies who die.