The Ripple Becomes a Wave
- By Andrew Schlabach
Our patient sits on a mat that is hand-woven with rice stalks, separating her from the cold stone floor. It’s early and our clinic hasn’t opened yet but this woman’s family called us to come have a look at her. It’s brisk and my fingertips sting and yet the morning sun is doing its best to cut through the frost. The house is made of concrete and clay bricks. It’s unpainted and is adorned with a simple corrugated metal roof. By the looks of it, 8-10 family members live here and they are all gathered around the small outdoor courtyard where the family does its daily chores. A couple of goats, staked in a pen, happily munching on some dried grasses are apparently oblivious to the small crowd of people. Chakkhu Maya Gopali, our patient, appears to be in her seventies. She is barefoot but dressed in a winter-weight kurta made of a bright red, black, and yellow fabric. Around her head and shoulders, she is wrapped in a thick wool shawl. Even before she says “jhumjhum”, meaning tingling, I can see by the way she is sitting that she is having a stroke. I’ve seen this same scene many times.