The other day I was in the middle of a slew of new patient interviews, when a lady excitedly comes up to me. She looked to be about 6-7 months pregnant and says in Tagalog, "Ate Pami, I am Ate Doris' niece and she was wondering if you stitch."
This struck me as odd for a few reasons: a) she knew my name ("Ate," pronounced "ah-tay" means big sister or is used as a friendly sign of respect) b) who is Ate Doris? and c) that's kind of an odd question to ask when meeting someone for the first time...
During new patient interviews, we always ask about previous deliveries and complications, such as tears, hemorrhaging, long labors, and stitches. So when she asked if I stitch, my mind immediately went to stitching a torn perineum. I looked at her in confusion and replied (in Tagalog), "No, I don't stitch, but the midwives do."
She said, "no, Ate Doris is wondering if you have stitches to do."
By now we had a bit of an audience listening in. Sure that I was having a hard time understanding her because of some language barrier, I asked her to speak to one of the midwives inside. We went in together, and the midwives were busy so we talked to the other American nurse. Again...same problems. I said that we, at Shalom, only do stitches to torn perineums but not in first aid situations.
"No!" she said emphatically, "Ate Doris wants to know if YOU need stitches!"
Um, I most certainly do not! I thought. What in the world?!? Then it dawned on me that she kept saying, "kortina," which means curtains.
hahaha!!! The lightbulb switched on! Ate Doris is the lady who had sewn my curtains months ago. Everyone around me burst into laughter as we finally figured out what she was trying to say.
You see, the Tagalog word for "sew" and "stitches" is the same: "tahi." My mind was so fixed on obstetrics that it never entered my mind that this gal could have a different meaning for "tahi." I was a bit gratified to see that everyone else was just as confused...it wasn't just me!
So you see, never a dull moment. And for the record, no, I do not need stitches: personally or on fabric. :)