i take care of a great deal of patients that speak very little or no English. i have become used to it, however frustrating it may be at times simply because communicating is so vital. i have seen many Dominican Republicans, Hondurans, Mexican mommies smile, broad-faced, through excruciating pain; it really is incredible how they can do that.
i have also has small children shy away from me when children usually don't and it dawned on me yesterday why this one particular girl would not just shy with me, but anyone of the staff that walked through the door: they had just moved here from Honduras and i am sure the color of our skin was very scary to her (especially if she didn't have much contact with caucasians before they moved here).
one patient was particularly smile-y with me yesterday as i spent time trying to talk with her, only to get frustrated and make faces when i apparently said the wrong word in Spanish for what i was attempting to communicate to her - at one point, we broke up in gales of laughter because it was just really funny. however, her boyfriend sat quietly trying to figure out what i was trying to say, intently drawing in his sketch pad -- i looked over at what he was drawing and it was simply an outline of hands in prayer.
i brightened up and said "bueno!" which i had hoped meant "good!" and he nodded and smiled. i believe he was a tattoo artist because he pointed to my wrist and then to his arm (where there were tats) and i said "did you do that?" and he said "si."
off i went.
later in the day, when i went to see my patient, she called me "Maria." i stopped, confused and said, "mi nombre es Penni" and she said, "ningún wilfredo te llama Maria."
my Spanish isn't great so i had her write it out and quick went to google language tools and translated what she said - and loosely, it means he calls me Maria or "Wilfredo calls Maria to you." how cool, a new name!
so i went back into the room a little bit later to change her bedding and she motioned over to the table where Wilfredo left his sketch book -- "for you," she said in a heavily accented English.
she just smiled and motioned i was to take it. i went out of the room with this precious drawing in my hand and wondered, of course, what it all meant...