Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Momentito Guatemalteco 2


12:30 pm

I am answering questions about AIDS in Spanish.  We have just finished reading a small review lecture on the biology, transmission, prevention, and treatment of HIV/AIDS.  I requested that my maestra and I review this material since next week, I'll be starting work in the local "clinica de VIH."  Mariah is already working there and has informed me that she and the doctor see about 13 female sex workers each morning.  In addition to learning the words for condom ("condón"), thrush ("infección por hongos" or " manchas blancas en la boca"), and lymph nodes ("ganglios linfáticos"), I learned how to give instructions on how to clean a needle thoroughly if you insist on using the same one multiple times to inject yourself with drugs, that is, if you insist on using IV drugs: "Si vas a usar una jeringuilla más de una vez, lávela con una solución de cloro (Clorox) y agua y después enjugáguela con agua."

12:46 pm

I am washing my hands in the bathroom at school.  I just peed, almost threw my toilet paper in the toilet in the front-to-back-wipe-and-toss maneuver I've practiced for almost 30 years, and then checked myself, throwing it into the small white garbage can instead.  There is little knee room in the stalls and the signs reminding us foreigners about the limits of central american plumbing are at a squatter's eye level.  Nevertheless, I almost forget almost every time. A couple times, I have scooped out wet paper, disintegrating by design after its contact with water and urine, thrown it soggy into the trash, and hoped that there was soap available by the sink.  Luckily, there always has been.

I pump some orange soap into my palms, lather my hands, and  notice a squeeze tube of Clorox solution.  I think to myself, "I could clean a needle with that."

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