May 30, 2007

I had seriously intended to write a “woe is me” post today.  I was going to list all the crap things that have happened to me and my family lately- Dad’s heart attack, my husbands health problems, our daughter not sleeping, money issues, car troubles… it really has been quite the month and I felt a need to get it off my chest.

But today kind of put all that in perspective.

We had a training session at work on refugees and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Our health centre provides care to a significant proportion of the refugees settled in Wellington.  I see refugees every day I work, for health checks, vaccinations, smear tests and all sorts of aches, pains and complaints.  Their health needs are often complex and their care takes a lot of our time.  We usually have a small amount of information about a refugees background and experience and sometimes they open up and tell us some of their story- but I was reminded today of how much we don’t know.

A person’s file usually indicates when they “left” their home country, and where they sought refuge.  But the real story is rarely that simple.  Leaving may be sudden, family is left behind- often children and elderly parents, and the journey itself may be harsh.  In a case we heard about today a young woman left 2 children behind and then walked for 3 months to find somewhere safe, surviving on what water and food could be found along the way.  Most refugees have been through unimaginable experiences, including the violent loss of loved ones, torture and prolonged persecution.  They somehow get out, and seek refuge here.  For all refugees arriving in safety is the beginning of a new set of challenges, but for many the adjustment is made more difficult by reliving the trauma- by PTSD.

In the face of the challenges faced by these people I see and work with every day, my own misery seems far less important, and I am reminded to be grateful about just how good my life really is.  My Dad had a heart attack, but it was not a big one and he is still here, in fact the warning it gave him might mean he is here for a lot longer than he would have been!  El catracho is still suffering from horrible headaches- and might be having trouble getting to see a specialist, but he has a great GP who is doing his best and a far better chance of getting good care there than in his home country.  And he’s still the sweetest, most helpful husband I could ever imagine.  Chichi isn’t sleeping through the night, but we have her here with us, and her cuddles when she finally falls asleep draped across both of us in our big bed really are priceless.  The other concerns… money, car… are transitory, temporary glitches in what is really a pretty good life.  So I’m not writing a “woe is me” post, rather a grateful one.  My life isn’t perfect… but at least it is my life.

Hmmm, maybe with all these happy thoughts I should be joining Benjamin’s “Three Blessings” blog!

One Response to “Perspective”

  1. La Gringa Says:

    Sharon, I’m sorry to hear about your woes. I know very well how small and not so small things can build up and put you in a slump that is hard to get out of.

    It’s great that you had an experience that put it all in perspective. Best wishes to you and your family.

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