Immigrant Stories, Immigrant Lives

Margarette M.O. de Deus

By the time I arrived in Boston I weighed about fifty-two kilos. Due to the adaptation period, there was a lot of work I had to do to get used to my new surroundings and new life. The job I obtained as a cleaning person — I had to do work that was different for me, I had not done this kind of work before in my home country of Brazil. In particular, it was very difficult; it was very physically challenging. Due to the toll this work took on my body, I lost weight — a few kilos. In Brazil we measure weight in “kilos,” rather than in pounds.

One Saturday, I woke up with pain all over my body. I had chest pain, and I was feeling very weak. I was very tired, and I did not sleep well the night before. So, I decided that I might need to go to the hospital so that the doctor could see what was wrong with me and my body. My sister-in-law is an assistant nurse, and after she looked at me, she said that I might be anemic. I was then taken to the hospital.

When I arrived at the hospital, accompanied by my husband and my father-in-law, I was taken to a screening room. The nurse asked me to explain how I was feeling, where was the pain and anything else to help them figure out what was wrong with me. At this point, I requested a translator.

The first question the nurse asked me was, “What was your weight when you first arrived in Boston.” Her second question was, “What is your current weight?”

And this is when the confusion rushed in: I told the translator that I was fifty-two kilos when I arrived in Boston, and that now I am 48 kilos. But, the translator began talking and questioning: “kilos?,” “pounds?,” “ponds?” The more they talked, the more confused they got.

Finally, the nurses concluded that I had lost 48 pounds!

They immediately took me to the emergency room. They hooked me up to many appliances, conducted numerous tests on my body. They injected different fluids into my veins. Ultimately, they spent an entire night poking me, testing me, putting liquids in me — all night long. During all of this testing and confusion I lost a few more pounds!

After all of this, they discovered that my main issue was an inflammation in the muscle of my arm, in my shoulder, because of the repetitive physical labor I had to perform here in Boston at my cleaning job, work of such an arduous nature that I had never done before.

I am glad that I survived all the “help” the doctors and nurses gave me… J