10 June 2011

Topless Transfers

While the saddest news of the week is that Little B. was discharged to the ACU (Ambulatory Care Unit: a series of cement rooms behind the hospital used for patients that no longer need nursing care but still need dressing changes).  I have yet to have time to go say hi, but our goodbye was really sweet.  I gave him his very own little bottle of bubbles and he spent the following hour making the rounds with me as I treated my other patients, lifting everyones spirits with a complimentary blow of the bubble wand (either that or he was rubbing it that he got bubbles and all they have the hope of receiving comme gift is a pair of wooden crutches).

But I have a new patient occupying much of my afternoon.  A woman about my age with a very sweet smile.  H. came to our hospital with multiple bed sores.  She recently suffered a T11 level spinal cord injury, and the hospital she originally went to sent her home after two days.  No wheelchair.  No patient education.  NOTHING.
She has asked me many times if she will be able to walk again.  Each time I tell her no, she asks 'Well, maybe with crutches?  Or a walker?'  It breaks my heart each time I have to say that she will never walk again . . . mainly because, even though she shows no emotion on her face, her eyes give her own heart away, and it too, is broken. 

So after several days of sitting balance and strength training (because she's done nothing but lay still for  at least a month since her accident) today was the day for the commencement of transfer training.

Now, there's something you need to know about Nigerien culture.  The women are incredibly modest.  They are always covered . . . well, almost always covered.  Here, a woman's breasts seem to only be private starting at the age of 10 and ending with her first baby (which, I'll leave to your imagination in a world where the legal marrying age is 14).  There are boobs everywhere . . . even in church!  If baby cries or fusses or is simply just bored, out comes a bazooka.  And it is impossible to make it through ward-rounds without seeing at least a dozen sets of ta-tas.

So, keeping in line with tradition, H. has been choosing to do her therapy everyday topless.  It's one of those awkward cultural things that I just don't really know how to handle.  And until today, they  weren't getting in the way.  But transfer training . . . yeah, there's just no way to avoid the jugs.  By nature, it requires being up-close-and-personal . . . in a slow-dance-hugging kind of way.

I'm pretty sure I apologized to her five or six times for accidental bumpings of the sisters.  There was just no way around it!  All attempts at avoiding second-base seemed to fail.

Now, you have to understand . . . in OT we spend a lot of time with our patients when they must be 'scantily clad'.  We do dressing and bathing and toileting training, for goodness sakes!  Impossible to do those for-real when the patient's clothes are already on.  But transfers?!?!  Nope!  Time to reinstate Rule Number One: NO FREE SHOWS IN THERAPY!  (So much for keeping things in the right 'cultural context'!)

11 comments:

Shal said...

Hahahahaha! I can just imagine! There are somethings that no amount of pre-field training will ever prepare you for...

Deb. said...

AIN'T THAT THE TRUTH!!

Nneka said...

that's not awkward at all!

Bobnrobn said...

Breasts, boobs, bazookas, ta-tas, jugs, sisters!  Can you translate all of these words into French and then Hausa please!  Thanks.  xoxoxo

Anita said...

Deb , you're sooooo funny.  I can't stop laughing.  I think you missed your calling!

Mamastouff said...

Deb, There is nothing like time with you...that's what it is like reading your blog...laughing and feeling like I 'm sitting with you!! I can't wait to see this all in book form...a Best Seller!! Linda S.

Bobnrobn said...

I see I forgot one -- second base!  xoxoxoxo

Deb. said...

Mom, I love that you came back and read it again! :)

Deb. said...

As long as you're laughing and not shaking your head thinking 'Why did we send this chick out there?!?!' : )

Deb. said...

Thanks! Writing on the blog is definitely cheaper than therapy! :) Sad not to see you this summer!

Deb. said...

I know, right! : ) (thanks for stopping by!)