30 March 2011

It Takes a Village

. . . to do crutch training.

One of the patients I've been working with for a while had a complication which resulted in the amputation of his right leg, just below the knee.  Before the amputation he had reluctantly agreed to walk using a walker.  Since he'd been in bed for nearly a month without getting up he was really weak, and the burns on both of his legs resulted in reduced movement of joints and immense pain.  Every day that he'd walk with the walker we'd have an argument first . . . which, considering he speaks no French and I no Hausa, our arguments were more like a game of charades.


So while the following conversation is totally fabricated, it is word-for-word how I translate his gestures in my head:
D: Okay, let's go, time to walk.
A: Not now.  I'm [eating . . . sleeping . . . recovering from your stretching session this morning . . . chatting with my brothers and my roommates and their family members . . . getting ready to do any of the above so long as it doesn't involve you].
D: No really, it's important.  It's good for you.
A: What part of 'Lalkfjag lkajsdf lajg lasldki qjorivoi bwoinb boinw vboia ghat.' didn't you understand?
D: You should know by now I don't take 'uh-uh' for an answer.
A: Go away.
D: But look, I brought my walker!  It provides lots of support and stability for you while you're walking . . . you can use your arms to take a lot of pressure off your feet!
A: Get that piece of crap out of my room!
D: But it's easy to use!
A: If I'm going to walk, I'm using crutches!  Where are the crutches you're always giving out to everybody else?  I want crutches!
D: You're not ready for crutches.  Trust me on this.  When you've got some more strength, we'll do the crutches.
A: I want crutches or I'm not walking.
D: I will give you crutches before you leave the hospital.
A: Did you not hear me?  I'M NOT WALKING UNLESS I HAVE CRUTCHES.  (I'm told it's a guy thing)

Normally it ends with his brothers and the room full of strangers convincing him to use the walker (I'm really curious to know what they say to him . . . which is a pretty good motivator to learn me some Hausa).

But it's been a week, and yesterday I just couldn't fight any more . . . so, I went and got him a pair of crutches.  I will say it's the farthest he's gone so far . . . but it also required THREE AND A HALF PEOPLE holding him up and dragging him to get to the finish line.  I was the half.

By the time he got back to his bed he collapsed into it.  Tired and beaten by the crutches he may have been, but boy did he revel in winning!

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