Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ode to Imperfection

The following bit of rhyme is a gift from the talented writer, Mrs P. The piece came about after I had communicated to her about some of the poor instruments and machines that have sacrificed themselves in their mission service to Africa. Those of you who work, or have worked, at mission hospitals can certainly relate. Enjoy. (Graciously shared with the kind permission from Mrs P).

 Electrocardiogram (ECG) machine that mysteriously stopped working

Ode to Imperfection

The ECG machine, alas, has given up the ghost;
One final heart beat analysed and traced.
The fungal spores have flourished in the humid atmosphere,
And clinic walls and theatre drapes are damp and mould encased.
The scanner's wheels have perished, the printer does not print,
The "rust-proof" clamps and scissors grate with rust.
The power lines are powerless, despite repeat repairs;
The text book splits, the pages curl and crumble into dust.
The iMac's back up battery begins to swell with damp,
The scanner's bound with parcel tape and hope.
The doppler struggles on despite quite overwhelming odds;
And things are looking doubtful for the humble stethoscope.
Each time each piece is handled, scrubbed, reglued, rewired, patched up;
Or time and time again is washed and bleached,
Each implement's capacity is stretched beyond its bounds
Until the point of no return, eventually, is reached.
By all means praise the gleaming rows of smart machines elsewhere;
Designed to work in pristine, sterile splendour;
Efficient, clean, predictable, unsullied, uninvolved;
And strangers to fatigue, despair, death, conflict and surrender.
But, don't forget those instruments which pay a higher price
By simply striving hard to do their duty:
For each has earned its battle scars and each displays in turn
A battered, rusted, scorched, damp-damaged, strange, imperfect beauty.
  ~ Mrs P

Instruments soaked a bit too long in their eau d'javel (bleach) baths

Packing tape keeps monitor intact and bravely working 

Well used pharmacopeia  

Fetal Doppler 

 Printer that, sadly, did not survive its encounter with 220 voltage

Even plastic wheels succumb to the harsh realities of mission service - slowly falling apart