Saturday, May 21, 2011

One More Number in the Statistics / Claudia Cadelo

One More Number in the Statistics / Claudia Cadelo
Claudia Cadelo, Translator: Unstated

Breakfast: 1 C. coffee with milk, 1 tsp sugar, 1 fruit, 1 bread, 1 tsp.
butter or mayonnaise. Lunch: 3 large spoons rice; 1/2 C. vegetables; 1/2
C. squash, beets, or carrots; meat, chicken, fish, egg or liver; salad,
eat freely; 4 tsps. jam. Dinner same as lunch. Snacks: 1 C milk or
yogurt, 1 tsp sugar, fruit.

E. is 38 and pregnant. She feels like one more number in the statistics.
The other day she called me when she was leaving the polyclinic to say
she was coming over. They couldn't do any more. Half the tests couldn't
be done because they didn't have the reagents, even though they sent the
prescription paper back smeared with someone else's blood. She'd been up
since five in the morning and at ten still hadn't had breakfast, and to
top it off the doctor asked her, "Honey, why did you wait so long to
give birth? Now I have to do an electrocardiogram."

The first thing she said when she saw me was, "I thought the state of
education was bad, but now that I've come up against the public health
system…" E. is like me, very small, but much skinnier. Before her
pregnancy she weighed 89 pounds and now, at two months, she weighs 113
and her hemoglobin count is 12.5. Still, the nutritionist thinks she is
underweight and has recommended "moving into a maternal home." She gave
her a copy of a diet to follow to the letter. When she showed it to me I
started to laugh, but to her there was nothing funny about it.

She has to get up at seven in the morning to have breakfast and this
first meal of the day includes a tablespoon of mayonnaise, whose
nutritive properties are unknown to me. Throughout the day she must must
meet the standard of six large spoons of rice and two ladles of beans
(half at lunch and half at dinner, every day until the baby comes). Meat
is not defined by quantity and she must eat a half cup of guava jam
every day.

I wonder if the diet is to nurture her or to fatten her up. Probably the
doctor isn't authorized to recommend eating certain products like meat
or much fish, but at least they should have the decency not to put
pregnant women on diets designed to fatten turkeys to make foie gras. In
response to the psychologist's long awaited, "How do you feel?" E.
answered, "Fine, but I'd feel better if I didn't have to come to this
polyclinic any more."

21 May 2011

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