Today was a hard one. I woke up to find out that my grandmother is still the in the hospital; they'd taken her in last night for an MRI; she's been very anxious and agitated. I had seen dad right before heading out to the show and asked after Maman. “She's fine” is all he had said. And now I understand that he was following another cultural norm here; shielding family from bad news and being secretive about sickness. Benafsheh had just been telling me that her dad had been unwell, and they didn't tell her til afterward, “because we don't want to worry you”. And they are keeping Farshad's health issues a secret from Ame Pari (his mother) for the same reasons. And now I was having the same experience.
They had decided to take her in just for the test, but the hospital wanted to keep her for a couple of days to run some more tests. Ame Pari had been up with her there all night, and Dad had gone over the morning. After a late breakfast, I braved the taxi system and made my way over there. There are 4 kinds of taxis; mini busses that have a set route, group taxis that pick up multiple people going in the same direction, private taxis, and people with cars who will charge you a little and give you a ride where their going. To catch one, you stand on the side of the road and when a car slows down slightly, shout your destination. A nod up means nope, a nod down means yes.
I found one that seemed to be nodding in the appropriate way, and got in. There was one other woman in the front seat, and we soon picked up 2 more. Dad's instructions were complicated and lengthy, so thank goodness for the every-woman-is-your-mother syndrome here; the front-seat lady in the taxi helped me figure out where to get dropped off. I just kept repeating the word for hospital, Shohadoh, and in the end was delivered to the front gate. I found my way to the building (translates as 8th floor building), and to the 4th floor, room 5. Dad had said they didn't want him in there because it was a women's room. There were 6 beds in there, and I have to say the place looked pretty terrible.
But each patient had a family member with them who was caring for them—no-one was left alone. This was pretty much the case in the various rooms I peeked into. And soon I realized that this is how the system works. The family is there doing the main care-giving. The hospital staff is helping too, but the family is the bottom line. This jives with something that Farshad said last night. This country has survived everything that has been thrown at it because of the intensely strong social network it has. The family structure here is phenomenal. He said, there's no homelessness that isn't by choice, because the family would never let that happen. And I know exactly what he means. The family networks here are invincible. The various care people in the same room also interact a lot with each other, offering up their own medical advice to each other and helping each other out.