Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fainting: A Kenyan Pastime

I have a lot of experience with young people. I have in fact lived most of my life being one of them and consorting almost exclusively with them. I went through elementary school, middle school, high school, University and years working with kids as a camp counselor. Never once had I seen someone faint.

I have seen people faint in movies, and every time I dutifully suspended my disbelief, the whole time knowing that it doesn’t happen in real life.

Very soon upon my arrival in Kenya I was made aware of the fact that fainting is actually a Kenyan pastime. After playing a particularly heated football (soccer) game against another school one of the girls on the opposite team abruptly fell down onto the ground and did not move. Her teammates rushed to her side and carried her off of the field. She soon returned to consciousness and stood up and walked away. As an isolated incident this was surprising to me but no big deal.

The Daraja girls have recently been conditioning for long distance runs by running around the outside fence of our campus with staff members. One evening a girl had ran around the perimeter and sat down for a nap. Twenty minutes later her friends tried to wake her up but to no avail. Twenty minutes after that someone came and got me, distressed that she had still not woken up. I arrived at the scene to find her surrounded by her classmates holding up her legs and fanning her.

My first Aid training did not cover fainting, but I thought that maybe that was what you used smelling salts for. I didn’t know, I just knew that whatever had been done wasn’t working. The fact that everyone seemed so worried got me worried. She was breathing and had a pulse so I felt like it would probably be okay. I tried to calm everyone down and have them give her space.

Then she opened her eyes. But not in a good way. He eyes were glazed over and rolled into the back of her head. She wouldn’t respond to hands in front of her face. I felt her pulse again and I wasn’t sure if I could find it. I asked a teacher and she wasn’t sure either. Lets get her to a doctor I said. I pretty much had to insist, but I figured it is better to be safe than sorry.

We started speeding to the hospital over the terrible roads (previously mentioned). About two thirds of the way there (after an hour of being unconscious) she started responding. We took her to the doctor anyway who insisted that she get a blood test to make sure it was nothing serious.

It wasn’t anything serious. The biggest repercussion of the episode was that the entire Kenyan staff of Daraja made fun of me for days for insisting on taking a fainted girl to the hospital (even though it was admitted that 60 minutes is a long time to be unconscious). Since then we have had the regional athletic events. At the end of virtually every track event girls would drop like flies (pictured). Now I don’t pay any attention to it. It is just another aspect of the Kenyan landscape.

1 comment:

  1. This is hilarious! You write so well Matt! I can picture the whole scene. I cant wait to hear more about Alfred and how his schooling is going. TTYL