Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘nurse and medics in a Gaza under bombs

How it’s like to work as nurse in a Gaza under the bombs?

My Mother, Dina Khoury-Nasser, just e-mailed us from Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza. 01:55 am 5th August 2014

She has been there for four days now. She went with a team of medics from the Augusta Victoria Hospital in Occupied Jerusalem in response to the appeal sent out by Gaza Hospitals, who were unable to cope with the extent of carnage brought about by Israeli Terrorism.

Today was day 4 in Gaza.

The first two days were like limbo. We felt we were in Gaza but not yet feeling what was happening around.

We live in the hospital compound: eat in the compound, work in the compound, sleep in the compound. We see the injured, hear the ambulances, see the bodies and people strewn around everywhere – still it does not sink in.

Yesterday evening things started to get real when I saw a child sleeping with his father in the open air on a piece of cardboard. He was there in the morning, there in the evening, and again this morning and this evening. I wonder where is his mother, where is his family?

The stories one hears about entire families being annihilated, completely erased from the national registers of citizenship makes your hair stand on end! But still, it does not sink in. Perhaps because I am in the operation room and used to seeing people injured.

Then reality hits when the shelling in Jabalia starts. At ten in the evening we receive a lady in her sixties. She is full of dust, full of earth and full of holes throughout her body. Head lacerated, thighs lacerated, leg crushed. I think of where she could have been sitting, what were her thoughts when the shell hit…

I thought of mom, I thought of all the older women I know.

A quick summary of the last 3 weeks.

When the bombing started this morning, it was children.

Our first patient was a little boy around 6 years old. He had massive lacerations to his groin, abdomen, face and head. He had burns all over his body as well. We were able to manage him in the theatre. I wait to see how he is doing.

Then comes Haneen. She is an 8 year old; my colleague from the emergency room, Dr. Haytham informed me that a child is coming up with her hand hanging on her side. I went up to Haneen who was waiting calmly in the holding bay. Her eyes were closed. She had a bandage across her head; her eyes were closed because of the swelling from the oedema and the burns to her face. I approached her and held her, and greeted her, and informed her of my name.

I held Haneen little hand on the injured side. I told her that I will be with her – she held my fingers. She informed me that her hand hurts. I told her that it was injured and that we will try and fix it. She then asked me about her father and two sisters. I told her that her father was waiting for her. I could not tell her that her sister had died. I still could not tell her that later that evening, her other sister was brought in dead from under the rubble…they were both less than four years old.

I saw Haneen in the ICU later. She was awake and extubated. I greeted her and told her that I was Dina. One eye was now open. She asked me if I had a daughter, I said yes. She asked me what is her name. I said Haya. She said that is a pretty name.

It was a tough day that ended with hopeful news.

The plane up above, called zanana (drone) keeps buzzing all around. My colleagues from Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem arrived today with supplies. I felt proud to greet them. The Hospital had done an excellent job sending supplies and individual packs to each of us. They were greeted and their support appreciated. Being there is all that matters.

On a personal level, I feel responsible for a big group now. It is very nice to have Dr. Haytham here; he is a wonderful professional colleague. My other colleagues are in Nasser Hospital in Rafah (South of Gaza), treating the injured and witnessing the toll of martyrs. One other colleague is at Al Aqsa Hospital working in surgery.

The smell of blood and death is around the young and the old.

Each day we are greeted with the car coming to take the martyrs.

Our room is close to the mortuary. You look at the faces of people here – they are all stunned. A nurse on duty looks deeply sad – her son comes with her to work.

My friend Bassam from Gaza came to visit me and brought me a lot of goodies to eat. I distributed them among our team and colleagues. I was worried when I looked into his eyes and saw how red they were. The strain on his face was apparent. His son had a close call, and his nephew has ben injured. They are children. They were playing in the street and had just stepped into the house….

The nursing director had to take a deep breath as he recalled all the children that he had seen. We will need time to heal she said, the pain will take time. The stories are overwhelming and the loss has not yet stopped.

Gaza. Day 5

Below is the second e-mail from my mother, Dina Khoury-Nasser sent yesterday evening (10:17 pm 5th of August 2014) almost 20 hours after her first.

We woke up today to the sound of thundering, followed by the sound of an F16 fighter jet.

I jumped out of bed hoping the ceasefire hopes we went to bed with were not shattered. I looked at my watch and saw it was 7:30 in the morning. I realized that this must be the usual cycle (as people say) before the ceasefire was in effect at eight. I was relieved, I felt the buzzing sound outside sounded different.

My colleague, Dr. Dina, with whom I share a name and a room, laughed. She thought the buzz had never stopped, so how could it be different? In fact it was outside. The small selling stalls on the floor selling flip flops, underwear, t-shirts, shorts…

The mats and cardboards were gone from the balcony, yet the makeshift tents were there.

People were arguing, discussing going home or waiting. To go check their homes, or to wait. Like every morning on the walk to the hospital passing the morgue we encounter death, today another martyr in another ambulance.

We walked past a young man crying and pulling at his hair and a woman in the car in tears.

I reach the operating room as I do each morning and there was a happy atmosphere. No casualties today, nothing to do this morning. I did not even feel like holding my chlorine based wipe and going around with it. I decided to visit Haneen.

Dr. Haytham, my colleague and I went in. How are you? We asked. Ok she said, her head tilted to the side.

What happened to my sister? I do not know, I said, but I will ask. What happened to my father? We saw him in the emergency room, he is ok, perhaps he is in the hospital or he has been sent home, I answered. What home? I bit my tongue. There is no more home.

I said perhaps to someone’s home from the family. But I promised we will ask. Finally she asked about her mother. I had no idea…Tell me what happened to them. I promised again I would ask. She asked me once more about my daughter. How is she? She is well, I said.

Again, she asked about her sisters.

I went to the operating room and asked to find out. The nurses helped find a relative who came a few hours later. He had tears in his eyes. Haneen’s mother had passed away, her two sisters, her uncle and her cousin from another uncle. That was the baby that had come in that morning with her…

This afternoon, my colleagues from Gaza insisted on taking us around. The damage, the destruction, the awe, the smell of rot. It was Jenin revisited a million times over!

I have still not made it to the Shejaieye proper, there it is total annihilation…

We are not the heroes. It is the Gaza people that are the heroes as they survive and live on through all this pain.

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June 2023

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