Even chaos is ordered. As I ride in the tro-tro to the hospital this morning—as I have almost every morning for the past three weeks—it feigns me that I cannot properly navigate this public transportation system. There seems to be no method, no knowing; you just pick your direction, tell the chattering mates where your destination is, and they will either sweep you into the vehicle as a passenger or shake you away to the next. We see a group of schoolchildren as we board the tro-tro, and watch them scurry to a school bus (the only one that I’ve seen so far). There is a routine, a schedule, something in place that makes this all ordered, but to us foreigners, it feels like chaos.
Chaos can spell trouble in the hospital setting; an emergency delivery, a sudden change in schedule and everything gets shifted especially in low-resource settings. Fortunately, and within my level of comfort, the work we are doing with the MHIRT Program is lower-stakes with promise of high reward. Out of our ordinary quotidian of milling through pages of the St. Michael’s delivery records to turn scrawled handwritten chaos into a functional Excel document, we had a chance to observe in the operating room today. The medical director did quick work under the rusted dentist light stand on a woman whose operating table was just a tad too small. Folding over flaps of skin, muscle, tissue; again, chaos to an untrained, unexperienced eye.
In compiling our data, I wonder how patients travel so far to deliver their babies, manage their chronic health conditions when resources seem sparse, or have the economic stability to manage their high gravidity. I wonder if I would ask the same of people at home. The more the weeks roll by, the more ordinary this experience becomes. The frustrations or complication I felt initially have been whisked away by just letting things happen as they may, in the time that it takes, and how they will need to transpire. The urgency and pressure I felt of conducting this research has abridged, inversely so with the melanin in my skin. I have learned—through the days of getting up, eating, taking a tro-tro to work, crunching numbers, going home, eating with our host mom, reading, showering, and chatting—that you just have to go with it. To embrace my science background, systems always tend toward order; so this chaotic system is just approaching its apex as the second month of three begins.