How did I spend my life?

Sverre Halvorsen About the author

Dedicated to Erik Bøhler. Illustration Elin Karlsnes

I’m reading a letter from a former associate

Who has spent many years in Bhutan and Nepal

Now the sole doctor in a hospital,

His letter contains gripping stories

Of a mother nearly bleeding to death postpartum

The neighbours won’t donate blood, having none to spare

The hospital staff steps in, four bagfuls are needed

The placenta is removed manually

Uterine atony. No halt to the bleeding even after injections

It is stopped by a saltwater balloon

The mother survives

There, as elsewhere, two boys are beaten

by their drunken father

One dies, the youngest survives after heroic efforts

A young man is picked up at a roadside

with large, infected wounds, possibly sepsis

Treated and recovered, he refuses a skin transplant

These are excerpts from just one letter

Others have equally gripping tales to tell

I have lived in a sheltered world

Working in well ordered surroundings

Ringed by helping hands and heads

By state-of-the-art technology

I ask myself: Should I have done as he did?

Sought out new challenges where knowledge is scarce?

Would I feel better then

When I have grown old

Wondering how I spent my life?

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