Posts Tagged With: blood everywhere

101: Regret the Puppy

“Here we are,” Chandra said as the two women spilled out of the pickup truck that had given them a lift from Mutanda junction.  Their bags tumbled out on top of them.  When the truck door was shut the drive gave a slight nod of his head and pulled away.

“Where are we going?” Chelsi asked filling her arms with reusable grocery bags while trying to balance a box of strawberry plants on her head.

“The path way there by the red sign,” Chandra gestured to pathway on the other side of the tarmac road. The two women waddled across the road under their burdens, towards a neatly swept compound of houses.  About half way up the path a yellow puppy with an excited tail came bounding up to them.  “Oh, Regret, hi how are you?  This is my host brother’s puppy Regret.”

“Oh he’s so cute, he reminds me of Daisy when she was this size.  Just so excited about everything! Aren’t you so excited!” Chelsi cooed to the puppy. “Alright, which house is yours?” she asked starting to feel the weight of the bags in her arms.

“There, that one,” Chandra nodded to a tall house with a thick thatch roof that swooped down over the door, nestled between a standalone storage room and a long laundry line.  They closed the last few meters and Chandra balanced the box she was carrying as she fumbled for her keys.  She slipped the key into the lock, twisted it open and pulled back the bolt.  The door swung open, they stumbled in, opening their arms onto the floor. “Welcome to my home,” Chandra smiled. “Everything is kind of anywhere because I haven’t had the time to make any furniture yet.”  A rainbow of plastic basins was stacked in the far corner.  A myriad of kitchen utensils, pots, pans and mixing bowls were piled around a couple of large black food bins.  Prominently placed in the moderately sized sitting room was a familiar looking futon.

“Where the hell did you get a futon?” Chelsi asked, bewildered, trying to take in her surroundings.

“No, Regret, you stay outside,” she scolded the little puppy, who connected his backend with her door mat. “What do you mean? It’s the futon from the Prov house. We got that new couch from Molly, so Laura said I can have this one.  Haven’t you noticed it’s been missing from the house for like, eight months?” Chandra laughed.

Chelsi and Chandra went about unpacking and organizing their things.  Chelsi only had with her a day pack, the pack she a taken with her when she left Jeremy alone in her house for site visit.  This was the last day of site visit, and Chelsi could have gone home that afternoon.  But I have what? 10 days left in the Kamijiji house?  What difference is a couple of days going to make?  So she decided to go home with her friend Chandra, a health volunteer whose house was another 50 km down the turn off to Chelsi’s house

The rest of the evening passed relatively uneventfully.  When they finished unpacking Chandra introduced Chelsi to her host family.  Her sisters welcomed Chelsi warmly, with hugs and smiles. All the while Regret the puppy was tow, wiggling his body and lapping excitedly at his nose.  Chandra’s host family scolded him when he got too close to the cooking pots, but otherwise treated him gently.

After a dinner of rice and vegetable the two women tucked themselves into bed.

The next morning Chandra started the brazier and Chelsi cooked the eggs.  When their plates were clean Chandra went off to greet her family for the day, let them know about the programs she had going on for the day.  Chelsi hung back to finish washing the dishes from the night before.  When Chandra returned her face was painted with distress. “My host parents said that Regret got hit by a car this morning over by the borehole.  He went with my host sisters to fetch water this morning, and a car that had pulled of the tarmac clipped his back end.”

“Is he okay? Well I mean, obviously not,” Chelsi started to stand up.

“He’s over there, curled up in the bush with my host brother.  They asked if we had any medicine for him.” She hesitated, “I don’t know what to do.”

“Well, let’s go have a look,” Chelsi was nervous that the injury would be gruesome, but walked over to the bushes where the boys were standing around.  They watched as she approached.  One of the smaller boys was making an attempt to catch the puppy, who Chelsi faintly see between the brush was limping about. Well he’s walking for now, so that’s good. 

By the time Chelsi and Chandra closed the space between the house and the bushes the boy had chased the puppy up against a wall of brush.  He was curled up tightly in a ball.  The rear foot on top was starting to swell rapidly.  “Oh baby boy, who’s such a brave puppy,” Chelsi used the voice she used to calm Daisy whenever she needed a shot.  “Are you being such a good a boy,” she continued crouching down. The boys both backed away and leaned closer.  “I know it hurts, but you’re being so brave,” She lifted the top leg gently see the other one.

Where skin had been torn away, dirt, sticks and leave were stuck to exposed muscle. There was a limited about a bleeding around the ends of the torn skin, and this paw wasn’t swelling as fast.  It could have been a lot worse.  “Alright baby boy, let’s get you cleaned up.” Chelsi scooped Regret up gently, cradling him against her chest.

“How is he?” Chandra, who was still standing closer to the house, asked.

“It not as bad as it could have been.  He really needs some stitches and a split, but do you have some gauze, ace bandages, antibiotic cream, some alcohol pads.” Chelsi adjusted her arms around Regret and kneeled to pick up Chandra’s welcome mat.  She crossed the few meters between Chandra’s front door and her chinzanza, shook out the mat and laid the puppy down on top of it. “There you go baby boy,”  He made a lame attempt to stand up and move away but kept him down by scratching behind his ears and placing a kiss on the end of his nose.

Chandra came out of her house with the supplies Chelsi asked for.  She placed them down beside the puppy in the chinzanza. “Iiii, that doesn’t look good.  That kind of stuff really grosses me out.”

Chelsi start picking the large debris out of Regret’s wounds.  She talked to him gently all the while and he eventually let his head rest on the mat, resigned to his fate of being helped.  As she worked, the pile of debris, alcohol pads and gauze wrappers grew high before Chelsi was satisfied with her work.  She finished by securing the gauze with the ace bandage and stroked Regret’s neck.  She would have liked to wrap the other paw to help control the swelling, but there was only one bandage and keeping the open wounds clean was more important she decided.   “Alright baby boy, you’re all set. Tomorrow I’ll change your bandages again.  Now don’t play to rough on it.” She smiled and the puppy looked up as she backed away.  “I’ll ask Chandra for some water for you.”

“How is he?” Chandra asked hearing her name.

“Time will tell.”

Categories: Action, DIY, Drama, Health & Fitness, Horror | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

093: ka Mbuzhi

The morning light was barely enough to pass through Chelsi’s bedroom window; but it was enough to tell her that morning was near.  She rolled over, away from it and pulled her darling Daisy closer. It was another cold rainy morning, with nowhere to rush off. Daisy let out a sigh in agreement.

Baaaa… BAAAAH,” screamed a goat.  Chelsi’s host family didn’t corral or shelter their goats in anyway, so they had taken up residence in her chinzanza. But because that too was collapsing now it wasn’t uncommon for Chelsi or Daisy to be woken in the middle of the night to goats screaming; they are cold and wet, or grass and support beams had fallen on them.  It hurt Chelsi’s heart to hear, but they couldn’t become her responsibility and there was really nothing she could do.

The screaming had woken Tulip too though, and now he was pawing at the mosquito net, trying to find a way on to the bed.  Chelsi reached behind her, grabbing the grown kitten by the scruff of his neck and hoisting him on to the bed.  “BAAAAAH! BAAAH!” screamed a goat again. Chelsi listened, and she could hear that this was a different goat, one bedded down behind her house, not in front.  She didn’t think much of it though. It didn’t sound like the usually situation of a goat bedding down in her toilet, but it was close enough.  Maybe it’s just left looking for the others, or the others kicked it out of the chinzanza and now it doesn’t know where to go, Chelsi reasoned to herself.  Either way, the screaming was followed by peaceful silence.

A dream was starting to form in Chelsi’s mind eye, when “bmeeee, meeeh,” the weak whimper for a goat caught her attention.  A new baby had just been born a few days ago. Maybe it was her mother that got kicked out of the chinzanza and now they’re separated.  Half a sleep, her thoughts tried to puzzle it out.  She didn’t want to open her eyes to check the time, but she figured, just another half an hour and I’ll get up to check it out.

All three of them in the bed rested until the light naturally lifted their lids.  There had been a few more goat noises in the interim, but nothing more that Chelsi thought as cause for alarm.  She pushed off the blankets, and pealed herself out of the bed.  Daisy grunted, Tulip yawned.  She dressed herself and started her morning the same way she did every day.  She even pushed open the back window to let a fresh breeze blow through the house.

“Meh he he,” came a goat’s limp whimper. This time Chelsi could tell, that without a doubt it was coming from just under her back window.  She spit and rinsed, finished brushing her teeth, she stuck her head out the window to have a look.

“Well, what do you know?”

The black and white nanny looked right up at her.  Blood was splattered on the grass, just beyond where the overhang of the roof ended.  Clear mucus was smeared on her wall. And poking its head out from between its mother’s legs was a brand new ka mbuzhi.

Chelsi reach out to rub the nanny’s neck, the baby goat took a few wobbly steps to sniff Chelsi’s fingers. It was back and white, like a miniature version of its mother.  Chelsi leaned farther out the window to rub its back.  Its fur had already been cleaned and was as soft as ever.  When Chelsi stroked it, it wobbled and let out a little sigh.

Not wanting to disturb them too much, Chelsi retracted herself back through the window. She gave them one more smile, and finished up with her morning.


Categories: Drama, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

067: HIV

Some of the young women of Chelsi’s HIV club crowded around the bench where one of her game participants had just taken a seat.  But Chelsi didn’t notice at first.

“Alright! So our game of the baby elephant and lions, what did the baby elephant represent?” She took a rhetorical pause. “The baby elephant is our body. The Mother elephants protecting the baby elephant is our…?  Immune system! The Lions are,”

“Germs!” One of the secondary school boys shouted before Chelsi finished.

“Very good! And once we’re sick with HIV, what happens to our immune system? Our immune system is weakened.  Remember, we removed some of the mother elephants, then it was very easy for the lions to attack the baby.”

Soon the commotion on the far bench under the tree became great enough that Chelsi couldn’t help but notice.  She took a few steps towards the group of young women. When the group saw her approach the parted ways revealing a young women in a brown dress and bright red knee. Chelsi felt an unexpected surge of adrenaline. “Shit,” one of the other students had been trying to rip up a dirty chitenge into a bandage. “You lions, you are too aggressive.” She turned back towards her bag on the other side of the church yard. Grab some Kleenex, an alcohol pad, gauze, gauze, gauze, where are you? Quickly squirting some hand sanitizer on her hands, she went back over to the bleeding student.  The other woman starting to try and fashion a bandage with the chitenge.  Chelsi politely pushed her aside.

“Here,” Chelsi handed her the clean tissue.  The women rarely spoke during sessions, so it was hard to gauge their level of English, but the young woman seemed to instinctively know what to do with the tissue.  She started blotting around the wound.

Peace Corps had made it abundantly clear that volunteers were not to be giving out medicines, but bandages are pretty benign.  And Chelsi wouldn’t have, except that she felt partially responsible; it was her session and she wanted to help her students.

Chelsi ripped the foil top off the alcohol pad and held it out.  She didn’t want to touch it, but her student just looked at her, not understanding the gesture.  Of course she’s never used an alcohol pad. Reluctantly Chelsi removed and opened the pad holding it up over there wound. She could see where the blood was starting to ooze out of the woman’s skin again.  Come on, she thought.  The woman replaced her fingers with Chelsi’s, but instead of applying it directly to the wound she wiped around it.

“No, you have to wipe the wound itself.” Chelsi said, but her student just looked up at her with a grimace. She knelt down and move the woman’s hands around so the cloth pad was over the wound again. “Alright, this is going to hurt, but it’s good for you.” The young woman let out a shriek when Chelsi pressed the pad on to the wound with its crumpled up wrapper.   As soon as Chelsi stood back up to prep the gauze the young woman removed the pad.  Blood started up again quickly.

Chelsi passed off the fold gauze and fumbled with the tape. “I don’t have any medical tape. But this should work for now.” She stretched out a length of duct tape and snipped it.  She slapped it over the gauze, over the wound of the young woman’s knee.  Not the prettiest, but better than a dirty piece of cloth.  She signed, her students face was still twisted up in pain, but she tested out her knee and everything otherwise seemed to be alright.  Chelsi looked around to the rest of the benches.

Students who hadn’t crowded around to watch were packing up their things.  “Thank you for coming everyone.  Same place next week.  We’ll be talking about transmission.” Chelsi, thinking she was in the clear, suddenly felt her stomach knot up into a ball. Fuck.

A few of the students who hadn’t yet departed returned the benches to the inside of the church. Chelsi gathered up her bag and books and called her dog.  The rest of her students went left down the road, she went right.

“That was really dumb,” she confessed to Daisy.  Chelsi scoured her hands for open cuts and scrapes. Far and away the most common way a volunteer would contract HIV is through unprotected sex.  And Peace Corps had hammered that home. Condoms where spilling out of every crevice of Chelsi’s house. She had no use for them, but Peace Corps just kept sending them. What I could have used was a pair of rubber gloves… HIV is of course transmitted through blood to blood contact.  But even if I had gloves, would I have remembered, or thought to put them on? She felt for her honesty; probably not. 

The knot of anxiety in her stomach loosened slightly. She sighed, content with the condition of her hand.  But you have to be more careful.

Categories: Health & Fitness, Thriller | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

066: Funeral Pyre

Chelsi looked down at the garden bed in front of her feet.  Just yesterday it had been covered in promising little radishes; now all it was filled with was dashed hopes and dreams.  The bed coverings were strewn about, dirt was piled up at the bed edges and claw marks were clear on soft beds center. “Gorged out the by a gardens worst enemy.”

“Cock-a-doodle-doo,” the black bared rooster crowed from Chelsi’s front porch.

“If you could get my hands on you…!” she exclaimed in an empty threat.  But still, the fantasy of the bird, breast up on a roasting pan always calmed her down. Dues owed she thought.

It was the feeling of be burgled. To come home after a long day’s work and find that all your prized possessions had been stolen and the window smashed; you’re angry for a moment and then overwhelmingly sad.  Only Chelsi knew who to be angry with, her host family, the Kalulu’s. It was their chickens and goats that were always destroying her garden. “And then! When and if things do grow they’ll have the audacity to come over and tell me to give them some,” steam poured out her ears. ‘No’ she practiced over and over in her head, ‘you’re chickens already ate your portion. Go eat them!

The whole purpose was it improve child and family nutrition. The whole purpose of my garden is to improve my nutrition. Some of the mothers in Kamijiji had asked for nutrition traing, they know their first graders look like toddlers and the toddlers look like infants. Others in the village just didn’t know or seemed to care. Chelsi hating seeing some of her favorite children eating nothing but packaged cookies and nshima, the local staple of maize mush.

Ahh, but the chickens aren’t for eating’ she was told.

Then why don’t you come to the gardening workshop. We can have some small gardens, they’ll be easy to take care of all year round, improve nutrition that way.

Ah, but there are no vegetable seeds.

If you dig a garden I will give you seeds to start.

Ah, but the chickens, they will just dig up the garden.

Build a fence.

Ah, but it’s a lot of work.

So lock up the chickens in a chicken house and tie up the goats.


‘Fine then let your children starve.

But look, they are fat!’

They’re not fat! They are swollen with fluid because their kidneys are shutting down.

Chelsi sighed. Her fence did help. The number of chickens rolling through was greatly reduced, but only one was needed to undue weeks of watering and care. Fuck it, when I go to town next I’m getting fifty meters of chicken wire. She no longer cared that it would cost her an entire pay check. She then had a thought about how well scare crow actually worked.  She took a few deep breaths, started to feel better.  “Because do you really want to be that one?” She asked herself. “The volunteer who totally loses it and acts out rashly?” She had been voted most likely to, for swear-in superlatives last year.  “Most likely to: burn a goat in a funeral pyre.” She had been downgraded, from ‘Most likely to:’ make their house sustainable, after a conversation with PC Zambia’s then CFO, from which the designation was born.

The CFO Jason, Chelsi and three other soon to be volunteers sat in a small office, more than a year ago now, discussing proper volunteer conduct. ‘Don’t take drugs, don’t steal, take only certified taxi’s unless you have no other options. Try not to travel alone, don’t burn down your house, don’t burn down anyone else’s house. Just try not to do anything that would ostracize you from your communities, like killing your neighbor’s goat and burning it in a funeral pyre.

The comment had been presented to off handedly; don’t kill your neighbor’s goat and burn it in a funeral pyre. Chelsi had to ask.

We had a volunteer, who had a garden,’ Jason had stated calmly, ‘not unlike a lot of volunteers. But there was this goat, this one goat, which I guess was always breaking down the volunteers fence and destroying their garden.  So apparently what had happened, is they came home one day, to find their garden again, completely destroyed and the goat just standing there. And the volunteer lost it, killed the goat and built a giant pyre and burn the body.

Chelsi now knew what that murderous passion must have felt like for that volunteer, but Jason had never described how that volunteer had committed that act.  In Chelsi’s imagination it was a knife, they just stabbed it over and over, until it was dead.

So we had to send that volunteer home, because there was no way to reconcile with the community.

And the proper way to handle the situation, would have been….?

You make arrangements with the owner of the offending goat, to purchase the animal. Then, you may kill the animal if you wish, and if there is too much meat for you alone, you share it with the community. You don’t burn it front of them.

That’s how the story played in Chelsi’s head every morning, when she went out to water her garden, to mentally prepare herself.  She would take Jason’s advice if she thought it would make a difference.  But if she bought all of her family’s chickens, they would just go out and buy more chickens.  And all chickens are offenders. So instead she figured she would keep buying identical copies of her family’s chickens the market, and roasting them, while secretly hoping all the chicken at home would catch New Castle Disease and die.

Categories: Drama, Food & Recipes, Gardening, Health & Fitness, Horror, Law, Justice and Order | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

064: Lancet

​Chelsi stared at the little, blue handled needle she held in her right hand. Then glanced over to her red and swollen index finger on her left hand. After a few moments she was looking back at the lancet. Then finger, then lancet. Finger, lancet. Finger, lancet. Finger, and lancet. She squirmed a bit on the red cushioned, dinning chair. You probably don’t even have malaria anyway, her left index finger told her.  But in all reality you could, the lancet wielding right hand argued. 

But you feel so much better now, now you’re just coughing and wheezing, not feeling too feverish, the left hand retaliated.

Maybe so, but just twelve hours ago you were shaking and shivering in bed with the sweats. The right hand was reasoning well, the most notable symptom of malaria is the oscillating cycle of feeling sick then well.  

Yeah, but the other most notable symptoms of malaria; vomiting. You might be nauseous, but you haven’t vomited. 

And if you have malaria you could die. But you won’t know until you take the test.

“Maybe if I just shut my eyes,” Chelsi knew her right side was correct, but the left side just screamed so loud. “It’s just a couple drops,” she reasoned with it.  

Chelsi brought her left index finger and the tip of the lancet together.  Maybe if I just push slowly, but her actions were broken up by a fit of coughing.  The pain in her chest was sharp, and the sudden rush of blood to her head made it pound.  Quickly, before each of her sides could gather themselves, she stabbed her left index finger. 

But nothing seemed to happen.  She checked to see that yes indeed the point of the needle was buried under my skin, yet blood was not welling around the intrusion as she had expected.  Maybe, she pushed the little needle a little farther in.  But still nothing. 

“All that grief, for nothing,” she said aloud pulling the lancet out of her finger.  Then the blood started welling up. “Shit,” it came quickly at first.  She fumbled with her free hand for the little plastic applicator cup to collect the blood.  “It’s bigger than it looks,” she said of the collection cup, having to message more blood out of the tip of her finger.  

After more moments that Chelsi would have liked, the applicator cup was full and she waded tissues around her bleeding finger.  Carefully, she emptied the cup of blood in the receiving well of the plastic incased malaria test.  “Five drops of buffer it says,” she applied them appropriately.  “Now, if there’s anything worse than waiting!” She set a timer for fifteen minutes, for which she would spend the entire time starting at the maturing test.  

The control strip was quick to light up, as soon as her blood was forced across the test by the buffer.  The second strip never revealed itself.  

Negative, her right side said contently.

Negative, her left side said contemptly.


Categories: Health & Fitness, Horror | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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