31 March 2011

A Blinding Light

I don't normally see patients on the OB ward.  Okay, so really, today was the first time.

Our visiting OB/Gyn approached me this morning and asked if I'd check out one of her new momma's.  She gave birth a week ago and hasn't been able to walk since.  So, I grabbed a translator and headed to OB.

Expecting the patient to be in bed, you can imagine my surprise when I found her crumpled over on the floor.  Now at home this would be an incident . . . it would involve a crisis team of highly trained professionals scooping the patient back into bed and praying no law suit would follow.   Here's it's an eval opportunity (and not to worry, she had been on the floor using the bedpan and just wasn't able to get up) and so I joined her on the floor.

After getting a history of what happened (there had been complications during the delivery and she now had nerve damage in her pelvic area, resulting in significant weakness and a change of sensation in her legs) doing some manual muscle testing and a neurologic test of her lower extremities I showed her some exercises to be doing at home (she was about to be discharged and lives over an hour away).

Then came the fun part: getting her up off the floor and onto the bed.

I remember my OT school days when we learned how to help patients with hemi-plegia get up off the floor.  It was awkward pushing and pulling on our classmates and we were all able-bodied.  I've used this technique a few times since, but always within a mono-lingual context.  Here, I was to be giving commands in my second language, which would then be translated into Hausa.

So I went into this thinking language was going to be my biggest challenge.  But I had not given any thought to the fact that I was doing this in an ankle-length skirt.

Once my patient had gone from sitting to kneeling on all-fours, I moved in close to help her bring her ever-so-slightly-stronger leg forward in order to stand and I nearly knocked us over like dominos.  STUPID SKIRT!

So I did what any Western woman would do (without thinking): I hiked it up over my knee.

At first I thought the gasps and cries were from the over-exposure of my leg . . . but as I looked down, I realized the horror was from my limb's under-exposure!

Once, when I was at my favorite children's home in SouthAfrica, a little girl pulled up the leg of jeans and asked 'Aunty Deb. I know God made you white, but why did He make you so white?'

And now that my patient is safely back in bed (and only a handful of her ward-neighbors blinded) it is time to begin Operation Golden Legs.


Linda said...

Delightful story! When we lived in Africa, we heard the comment that "White people glow in the dark." I am enjoying your blog. God bless you for your ministry there!


Kari Greenhoe said...

So I'm guessing you got the patient back into bed? :)