‘I can’t give him Botox, but I can give him a referral to a psychologist’
Nurse Irma is surprised by new stories every shift. Many of these stories make her think long after her shift. This time she takes us with her.
“With the help of the translator, I ask my patient what I can do for him. He points to his forehead and eyes and says he would like to fill in his wrinkles with Botox. He last had it done three years ago. There is no physical need for these injections to be given again. He says that he has been living in the camp for a year, that he has twice been refused asylum and that he can no longer afford his lawyer. He sleeps badly, worries a lot and longs for a relationship. He is disappointed but understands that I cannot do anything for him regarding the Botox injections. In consultation with the team, I refer him to a psychologist.
Around 11 p.m., a boy is brought to the clinic. Friends say he seemed to be unconscious. After an investigation, it turns out to be a panic attack. After arriving in the camp, the boy is placed in quarantine and lives with many other single men in a large tent without privacy and full of noise. With grounding techniques such as seeing, feeling, hearing and touching, we try to bring him into the here and now. A friend strokes his head with care. Slowly the boy comes to his senses. He leaves the clinic on foot with a referral for a psychologist’s consultation.
After my shift, I speak to a colleague. You live in a refugee camp, you ask for Botox! And yet it got me thinking. Later I see the similarities with the panic attack that I have legitimised. When life in the Mavrovouni camp is your reality, you try to fall back on things you can influence. Is it a survival strategy? Self-esteem? You are looking for a partner and you think that botox helps you to find one. Who am I to think so? Life goes on. So many people do. Why shouldn’t a refugee be allowed to do it?”