My patients speak to me in Hausa. I answer in French.
And every now and again we manage to make do. But periodically we hit the jackpot and communicate. Typically it's through the language of charades . . . but lately it's been through the tongue of laughter.
I spent some time with H. today working again on transfers and sitting balance. One of our short-termers followed me with a camera during my session (since it's hard to do therapy, take photos of myself, and keep patients off the floor . . . all at the same time). I had hoped it might encourage the wearing of a shirt. I was wrong.
We finished our back-and-forth practicing between the bed and the wheelchair (she's getting rather good, for the record) and positioned ourselves for the regular series of core-stability exercises. It was in that moment I decided that I hate . . . HATE . . . doing therapy in a zunni. When He created the world, I am certain, God did not intend for therapists to wear wrap-around skirts! (If He had, He never would have given us theraballs!)
With H. sitting at the edge of her bed, I faced her, perched on a short stool. I attempted to sit in a 'straddle' like position, with the medial sides of my knees next to the lateral sides of hers . . . I tell you, NOT POSSIBLE IN A WRAP-AROUND! I began to wiggle in the hopes of readjusting enough to abduct my hips a little more. Nothing.
I started to shimmy, attempting to loosen the zunni around my hips, but not my waist (remember, Rule Number One: NO FREE SHOWS IN THERAPY! That goes for the OT too!). It was no use. I had two choice, cancel the rest of our session, or show an excessive amount of leg. I'll give you three chances to guess which one I chose.
Squatting over the stool, I began to shift my skirt so that the overlap would be in a more therapist-friendly location and I sat back down.
Until that point, it had not occurred to me that I had a captive audience throughout my jiggle-session . . . the 'Ah-Ha' moment being the child-like giggle coming from my patient. I had been practically nose-to-nose with H. the entire time . . . and she found the escapade to be quite humorous. I smiled at her as she giggled and simultaneously we both began a full-belly-laugh.
I can only imagine what she was thinking of this quirky white chick who makes her reach for blocks and do seated-push-ups . . . who keeps mixing up 'tomorrow' and 'yesterday' . . . who can't keep a kalibi tied on her head . . . and who clearly knows nothing about wearing a skirt. But it was a beautiful moment. We had connected over a vente-doubleshot of laughter.
Babu Hausa. Sans Français. We didn't need words. Just a motor-moroned OT, a zunni, and mutually respectful senses of humor.