My husband's cousin recently had a kidney transplant. He'd gone in the past to China hoping to find a donor (after refusing his sister's offer of hers) but he didn't find one so he came back. At first he thought he'd just give up and live his life as best as he could, but in the end, he decided to take up his sister's offer of her kidney. The surgery was performed here in Tripoli.
I went to visit on the day the sister came home from the hospital. She had been released after about 4 days and was in quite a lot of pain. I asked her what pain medicine she was taking and she said they only gave her pain meds on the day of the surgery and she was told she didn't need them after that because they 'weren't good for her'. Her brother was still in the hospital, being the receiver of the kidney, it was going to take longer for him to recover.
The woman was in a small room off a large reception hall on the ground floor of their house. She was laying on a twin-sized bed in the corner covered in blankets. The women visiting (there were about 40 of them when I got there) were all in the large reception hall drinking glass after glass of tea while small children ran in and out and babies wailed relentlessly. Every time a new visitor arrived she shook everyone's hand and kissed everyone and then was led into the small room to shake the poor woman's hand and kiss her too.
My husband had been warned (by me) when he dropped me off to make it a quick visit. He was elsewhere sitting with the men. After making the rounds and shaking hands I sat down to listen to the latest gossip and drink tea. It was the usual talk of marriages, engagements, pregnancies and illness. I just let their chatter float over me while I watched the toddlers running around.
The auntie mentioned that right before I arrived one of the kids had run smack into a pillar in the centre of the room and cut his head open. One of the men had taken him to the emergency room to get stitches. From my personal experience it was a normal Libyan get together! At least one kid gets stitches at every event and another will break a bone.
One little girl, who looked to be about three years old, ran over to our group to touch base with her mother. She had her heavily greased hair in about 30 tiny ponytails. The discussion turned to what to do to make hair soft and straight, and the girls mother was proudly telling everyone that the secret was coating the hair daily in Ibuprofen oil. Many of them admitted that they were doing this too.
Am I supposed to be surprised by their stupidity? Ibuprofen is a drug! It's a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that's used to manage pain, fever and inflammation. Ibuprofen oil is used as a rub for arthritis and muscle injuries and aches. It's not meant to be used on peoples' hair to make it straight and soft! And like every drug it has side effects:
The most common side effects from ibuprofen are rash, ringing in the ears, headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, constipation and heartburn. NSAIDs reduce the ability of blood to clot and therefore increase bleeding after an injury. Ibuprofen may cause ulceration of the stomach or intestine, and the ulcers may bleed. Sometimes, ulceration can occur without abdominal pain, and black, tarry stools, weakness, and dizziness upon standing (orthostatic hypotension) due to bleeding may be the only signs of an ulcer. NSAIDs reduce the flow of blood to the kidneys and impair function of the kidneys. The impairment is most likely to occur in patients who already have impaired function of the kidney or congestive heart failure, and use of NSAIDs in these patients should be cautious. People who are allergic to other NSAIDs, including aspirin, should not use ibuprofen. Individuals with asthma are more likely to experience allergic reactions to ibuprofen and other NSAIDs. Fluid retention (edema), blood clots, heart attacks, hypertension and heart failure have also been associated with the use of NSAIDs.
In the past I would have had to put my two cents in during their conversations but I have given up. They never listen to me anyway - I'm just the 'ajnabiah'. So I just sat and listened and kept my opinions to myself (I can vent my gripes here on my blog ... hehe). The thing that I found so ridiculous was that the woman talking had a university degree. She also had a computer and she had access to the Internet. It had taken me all of three seconds to look up the side effects of Ibuprofen!
I used to feel sorry for these women because when I came here 20 years ago you didn't find many that had much education. But now things are different. Women here have access to knowledge, they have Internet and they can watch all kinds of informative programmes on hundreds of TV channels. I don't feel sorry for them anymore. I feel disgusted.
The saddest thing was the poor woman suffering with pain because taking pain medicine after having major abdominal surgery 'wasn't good for her'. Meanwhile they are pouring pain medication on their heads!
OK... I've gotten that off my chest... I feel better now!