It’s Harvest Season – Friday Fictioneers

Photo credit @santoshwriter
Photo credit @santoshwriter

It’s Harvest Season

Maria felt the first few drips of fluid at dawn, waves of unbearable pain followed. Her picking hands were slowed, her back hunched. The gathering light gone, she finally collapsed at dusk.

The intern reached under the sheet and felt a tiny still foot and a pulseless umbilical cord.
“Why did they wait?” The naive young doctor turned to the interpreter making no attempt to veil her accusation.
“It’s harvest season,” he shrugged, as if that explained everything.
“Dos babies!”, Maria groaned infusing the solemn room with renewed chaos and purpose.
The second premature twin was lifted from her womb ten minutes later, mewling.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is a true story from my days as an intern at a county hospital. Maria was a fifteen year old migrant worker and she was one of many indigent women who taught me to set aside my personal judgments, because in the moment it doesn’t matter why the patient didn’t come sooner or make better decisions. My job was not to judge but to listen and to act. In this case she and her lost twin were victims of poverty. The field foreman wouldn’t bring her to the hospital until he became afraid that Maria, a child herself, might actually die on his watch. I was young and my judgment, of course, was misplaced. Poor Maria was powerless over her circumstances.

Her baby weighed about two pounds and stayed in the hospital for another two months. Maria had no choice but to return to the field a week after her cesarean despite my warnings of infection and wound rupture. I was powerless too. I had saved her second twin but I could not save Maria or her daughter from a life of poverty.

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Friday Fictioneers

42 Comments Add yours

  1. ansumani says:

    This is such a sad story despite the second twin making it safe to this world. It must be tough as a doctor to encounter someone in need and feeling powerless to help.

    On another note – A well told story …I can see the Interpreter shrug without any remorse and your indignation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, there are so many things in medicine that are completly out of our control.

      Like

  2. Great story but the reason for it is very sad. I can only imagine how powerless and exasperated you must have felt over the situation. I thank my lucky stars…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I thanked my lucky stars that day too because I was 6 months pregnant at the time. My son was born on time and healthy and for that I am always grateful.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, absolutely!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I (during my Master Degree) worked as a interpreter once. And, I must say it wasn’t fun at all. What many of those people had been through was very disturbing. Some of them were even crying for help directly to me. And sadly i could do nothing but just sit there translating words from one language to the other…Your story reminded me one of those days!
    Beautifully told as always!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the lovely photo prompt.
      Interesting comment, I have never considered the point of view of the interpreter. They become part of the story but are usually only seen as a conduit for communication, not as a participant. But of course they would have personal feelings about the tragedies. There’s more to that story.
      Tracey

      Like

  4. This made me gasp Tracey. Great job.

    Like

    1. I remember gasping too when I felt that tiny, tiny foot coming through the cervix.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Solothefirst says:

    Very sad, such an awful situation

    Like

    1. Sad and scary for an intern. I remember it like it was yesterday and that baby would be 27 years old now.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Solothefirst says:

        Oh that really brings the reality home doesn’t it! So tragic

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for opening our eyes. Hard to “like” but so very well written.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Working in a county teaching hospital opened my eyes every day to proverty, drugs, gang violence and hunger.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. plaridel says:

    i liked the way you responded to this week’s prompt. it was very creative. you consistently amaze me. well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Plaridel,
      Thank you. These stories became part of who I am but I realize that for those outside of medicine they are pretty amazing. I always appreciate your feedback.
      Tracey

      Like

  8. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Tracey,

    You learned. That is one of the good things about the day. Another life entered this fragile world and one left. The moment is all we ever have, Tracey. One of the reasons you write so well is that you taught yourself to see.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Doug,
      Thank you for stopping by. I agree, this moment is all we have. I also believe that people come into our lives for a reason and we need to be awake to understand why. There have been many sentinal patients in my career that helped shape who I am and how I practice medicine. FF is allowing me to give them voices and show my gratitude.
      Be well, do good work and keep in touch,
      Tracey

      Liked by 1 person

  9. draliman says:

    Very sad, even though the second twin made it. It really highlights the differences in different cultures, the different priorities to ensure survival.
    I liked the interpreter’s attitude – he/she knows the situation and the intern will soon, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. To a doctor, survival means getting to a hospital ASAP. To Maria, survival meant staying in the field to keep a roof over her head and food in her belly. The interpreter was a realist and in his own way was defending Maria. I think the shrug also meant, “You know nothing, Intern.”
      Tracey

      Liked by 1 person

  10. A great story, well told, and even more powerful learning that it was true.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Clare. There are many true stories rolling around in my head and I hope I can do them justice on paper.
      Tracey

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This just tells me that the authentic voice is always the strongest.. the rest of us can just read and learn. Maybe just a sliver of hope in that one twin survived.. just maybe that would be a child to make a difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bjorn,
      Yes, that surving twin was a fighter so perhaps she is changing the world as we speak.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Dear Tracey,

    A powerful story. You bring your experiences to the writing desk and I am richer for it.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We are all made richer by seeing the world through someone else’s eyes and I’m grateful for that. And I’m grateful to the Friday Fictioneers for listening.
      Be well,
      Tracey

      Like

  13. erinleary says:

    All the more powerful for being true.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Sandra says:

    Such a tragic memory Tracey. Well written, and thanks for the reflection that followed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome Sandra. I’ve been reminded of my internship recently because my son, who was born that year, is an intern in surgery now. He tells me stories about patients that impact and shape him. We probably learn more in our internship than any other year in our medical careers. “That what doesn’t kill us makes us better healers or bitter doctors.”
      🙂
      Tracey

      Liked by 1 person

  15. You are going to have to give up this cooking thing. A powerful story Doc, thanks for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dawn,
      Even writers have to eat so I might as well share my recipes. 🙂
      Thank you,
      Tracey

      Like

      1. Good point!
        Carry on 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  16. rgayer55 says:

    Wow, what an eye opener. Beautifully told. I’m speechless, Doc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are speechless my friend? I think the world just tilted on its axis. 😉
      Thank you Sir for your kind words.
      Tracey

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Wow. A sad story mad all the more sad by the truth of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. gahlearner says:

    This is heartbreaking. It makes me want to scream, why is a pregnant woman allowed to work until she breaks down? But I know that even when there are laws and controls, greedy people will find ways around them. Great writing, and I can’t even begin to imagine how you must have felt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think illegal migrant workers have much say in safety. Of course this was 27 years ago so we can only hope that things are better now. I doubt it.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Amy Reese says:

    What a horrible thing to witness and to feel helpless to not be able to make things right for her. But, you did save her second twin. There must be some hope in that. It’s just a terrible set of circumstances. Well told story, Tracey. Nice writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There were angels watching out for the second twin that day. I don’t know how she knew that there were two babies. We had not done an ultrasound yet to find it. Obstetrics has been one chaotic situation after another for me and I’ll miss that.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Poverty and ignorance is a double-edged sword. It hurts not only the poor and uneducated but all of us. Many don’t seem to understand that fact. I’m thankful every day that my family and I have food, shelter, and an education. — Suzanne.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldn’t agree more Suzzanne.

      Like

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