Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 03/20/2010

Where was the village?

I work at a Clinic in the Midwest that serves the uninsured, two days a week.  On Thursdays, I am a patient assistant.  I bring the patient from the waiting room, to the scale, to the bathroom for a UA, and then into the examining room for pulse, respirations, temperature, blood pressure and a medical history.  I then tell the patient to take everything off but their socks, hand them an x-rated paper gown and my work is done.  The doc takes it from there.

Thursday, I brought a young woman from the waiting room who was trying to answer a collect call on her cell phone as I was weighing her.  She continued the phone call down the hallway and into the exam room, where I asked her no fewer than three times to end the call.  (Do you know how hard it is to take a pulse with a conversation going on in the room????) She kept saying, “Call me back, baby….I wanna talk to you…..she keeps telling me to get off the phone, yeah, baby, she’s standing right here…..”

Medical history.  Twenty years old.  She’d had five pregnancies, and had delivered one child, who is now four.  The other four were terminated.  She acknowledged drinking a pint and a half of alcohol a day.  And, her words, “a lot” of marijuana every day.  Lots of inappropriate laughing, in all the wrong places.  At one point, I wondered if it was me that was just a little off in the rhythm of this conversation we were trying to have. She would just laugh, even when there was nothing to laugh about.

And her four year old?  I shudder to think.  Mommy spends her days either high or drunk.  All day.  Every day.  I had trouble sleeping Thursday night.  What went so terribly wrong that a twenty year old girl would use abortion as a birth control method?  That her recreational drinking/smoking trumped anything her kid needed?

I am a big believer of the it-takes-a-village concept.  And somehow, the village failed this turned-women-too-soon.  She’s just a kid. She had a baby at sixteen.

I hope, boy do I hope, that the village is there for that four year old.


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