Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Safe in Dhaka but thinking of Boston...

Here and safe in Dhaka, Bangladesh! With the warmth of the people and the clean and “homey” apartment my initial transition has been great, or at least from the external views. Internally has been a bit more difficult than I would have hoped but that has nothing to do with the culture shock I was forewarned about. Let me explain.

When I first read the headline "Deadly explosion at Boston Marathon finish line" I was suspended 50,000 feet in the air and somewhere over Africa. I had just woken up from my very comfortable seat (no sarcasm, air emirates is like a tropical vacation compared to any other airbus I've ever been on), and re-read the brief BBC headline three times before reminding myself to breathe. This year, like past years, I had organized a volunteer nurse team for the finish line, better known as the "sweep team" as we triage patients between medical tents; When I found out  the conflicting date of my flight to Dhaka,  I cajoled one of my co-workers to taking over the "captain" role of our volunteer team. So, because there was no other information, my thoughts jumped to worst possible scenario, which was my coworkers and dear friends whom I had encourage to volunteer alongside me were injured or worse, and I was comfortably suspended 50,000 feet somewhere above Africa.

The panic set in and I woke Maryanne up and we both purchased internet access to check in on everyone and I am still counting my lucky stars that my Boston "loves" while mentally bruised, heartbroken and angry, were safe and sound. But, it has been and continues to be, rather difficult filtering the news from over 8,000 miles away.

Again today, I woke up heartbroken and angry that anyone could hurt my home on easily one of it's favorite holidays. By lunch time, the ache turned to guilt that I wasn't there to help at the marathon as initially planned, but mixed with extreme pride that my friends, fellow nurses and amazing hospital institution jumped into action and saved the day as best they could. And by dinner time I have read so many facebook statuses that I almost forget I am over 8,000 miles away and not sitting in Boston, drinking Dunkin Donuts and about to go for a jog on the Charles.

But I am not in Boston and I was lucky enough to be given an opportunity to represent MGH Nursing in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Perhaps, had my emotions not been clouded, I would have processed how truly strange it was to wake up on the last plane ride with people in the surrounding rows taking photos of the two white girls sleeping (I can only imagine how beautifully my 3 chins and drool captured on a flip phone camera). Or how awkward it was to stand and smile at the maid who unbeknown to us was waiting to be verbally released from her morning duties after she made Maryanne and I breakfast, and then cleaned our bedrooms while we ate. But instead I feel more like I am in a daze, with a dash of excitement as I look at myself in the mirror, draped in clothes a Boston girl wouldn’t usually chose.  

So I remember that while  it's hard to not be home coping with friends and family or working alongside coworkers, I get to show a very different part of the world what Boston and its idea of nursing is all about, and I would never let my city down.