Thursday, September 1, 2011

Kitchen Charades

This morning I stumbled into the community kitchen bleary-eyed and head swooning from nausea. My focus was only to get to our cabinet to scavenge for something – anything – to sate my nausea.  However, out of the corner of my eye I spotted the woman from Turkey, here, along with her three grown children to care for their ailing father. She started up with me right away. I had no idea what she was saying as she speaks zero English. We began a pantomime, a sign language of sorts back and forth. I was not yet fully awake and again, my nausea was fierce. A game of charades was not what I had in mind for 8 a.m., but that is what I found myself playing.

She was pounding her chest and opening her eyes and mouth wide. Nope, I didn't get it. I'm saying words back to her knowing full well that she can't understand me. I think that the first part of the story was about someone throwing out her chicken breasts from the freezer? I tried to explain the Sharpie name and room number rule (ID it or lose it) but don't know how far I got. My eyes and body were tired and weak, not conducive to non-verbal communication skills.

Then I started to get concerned that something was desperately wrong with her husband as her animations got more pronounced and her eyes swelled with tears. Her hand kept going up to her mouth in a pickle claw shape. Then she'd hit her stomach and say "medicine. medicine," then turn around to make her hand appear as if it were exploding out of her bottom in a violent motion.

"Your husband's medicine hurts his stomach?"

I got only nods of disagreement in return. She was not impressed with my Turkish accent attempts.

"He can't keep any food down? He needs medicine?" I implored, all the while thinking I should call 9-1-1.

Nope, not it. At this point I'm standing in the middle of the kitchen with the box of peanut butter Puffin cereal in my hand munching right out of it like I was watching a show with a bucket of popcorn at the movies. All I wanted was a bowl of cereal, but I knew there wasn't time for that and I would just have to swallow my nausea until I figured out how to help this woman.

This exchange goes on for five minutes or so. She was clutching her belly and making faces of pain and I was coming back with "stomachache? hospital? vomiting?"

Then she started doing the hand explosion from the rectal area first. She'd raise her hand to her bottom in a shooting motion toward that area, rub her belly, then do the hand explosion motion again like her fingers were coming out of her anus. In ... relief ... out. Hmmmm. Something went in, face of relief, then something came out.
I stared at her through my fingerprint smeared glasses in deep concentration. Then it came to me.

"Your husband took a shit!" I had known that this was a painful issue for him in the days before. "He got an enema and they blew it out of him?"

"ENEMA! ENEMA! YES!," she rejoiced at my recognition of this. "Much better! He much better!"

Oh, dear God, I thought to myself. There was in fact no emergency. She just wanted to tell me so badly that her husband was eating a little bit again and that they were able to blow out some bowel movements with an enema. I told her how oh-so-happy I was for them and left with the cereal box in hand to go munch it dry in privacy. If I had stayed there who knows what the next charade card would have held.

What will I do without all of these lovable characters in my kitchen every morning?


  1. I can always send Parker over. As you know, he can be quite entertaining :)

  2. I am a pretty patient woman but 13 days w/out an update makes me crazy. :) Please please keep us informed. How are things?!!

  3. I feel the same way--please post. I know you are busy back at home but how is everything??!!

  4. I hear you! I check multiple times a day....
    Looking forward to hearing about your time home.