30 August 2011

Left, Left, Left, Right, Left

My New Year's Resolution should have been 'Learn at Least One New Thing Every Day' . . . that way I would have at least had a shot at keeping it.  My favorite prof in undergrad used to say, 'I'll stop learning when I'm dead' . . . if that's true, I've found the secret to living forever: be a cultural transplant.

Without question, I am learning a lot living in Niger.  While I wish I could say the opposite, the reality is most of my lessons are not the result of careful study and observation . . . no, most of my learning comes as a direct consequence of cause and effect.  Cause: I unwittingly do something against the social norm.  Effect: shock, horror, or lots and lots of Nigerien laughter.

Yesterday's lesson resulted in all three.

28 August 2011

I Need Your Help

I'm finding myself in a bit of a difficult situation . . . and frankly, I need some advice.  So, I'm asking you for your input and opinion.  I only have until Wednesday to decide, so I need your feedback pretty quickly.

25 August 2011

Club Foot

No, I'm not referring to a new indoor soccer complex or hot dance club in Galmi village . . . rather Club Foot, as in the diagnosis.  You know, when a baby is born with abnormalities in the positioning of the bones of the foot.  Their little feet actually look twisted.

In October I will go for some training on how to apply plaster casting to these tiny crooked feet as the first stage of their treatment.  Today I got a preview of what I'll be learning.

24 August 2011

Crutch Training and the Feminist Movement

This afternoon, I fought my own personal battle for Women's Rights in Niger.

I think the reason I hate crutch training the most is because often it becomes a community event.  It's hard enough with the language barrier, but throw in and extra dozen people and their two-cents and you've got a circus.

And what's Ringling Crutch Brothers got to do with the Feminist Movement??  Keep reading.

22 August 2011


As I was leaving the hospital today, there was an old Fulani woman on the back steps next to me with a baby tied on her back.  Which is nothing out of the ordinary here.  What made me stop and take notice was that the baby was only a few days old.

'Akwai jariri!' (There's a baby!) I said to her.
'Akwai Debo' she responded with a smile.

21 August 2011


Five Minute Friday . . . okay, so it's Sunday night here.  And I'm just now getting around to this.

So here's how this works: TheGypsyMama gives us a topic, I set a timer for 5 minutes, and write whatever comes to mind, without editing, without tweaking, without trying to make it perfect.  The trick is keeping it five minutes.  Here goes.

18 August 2011

The Secret to Therapeutic Success: Pants

It may seem like a small thing to you, but I got to wear pants today . . . at work!  So in my book, that makes for a good day.  Granted, they were the deep kelly green hammer pants that I feel a bit ridiculous wearing, but hey, pants are pants and my rebellious nerve was satisfied.

Okay, so I wasn't intending to talk about my ongoing-rebellious-towards-having-to-wear-skirts-all-the-time attitude, really I wanted to tell you about the super interesting case I'm currently treating . . . well, at lest I find it interesting.

17 August 2011

The Answer is Still No

So last week I practically had to push a guy out of my office . . . he just didn't want to leave.  While I wish I could say it was because he loved therapeutic exercise and functional activity, unfortunately the real reason was that he wouldn't take 'over my dead body' for an answer.  I think I need to sew patches on my scrub tops that say 'I Won't Be Your Next Urwagida (wife), So Don't Bother Asking!'

The whole story will have to wait for another day . . . but the best part of it happened about three months ago.

15 August 2011


I've never had so many nicknames in all of my life . . . just walking down the hallway of the hospital I can pass seven different people who all call me something other than 'D├ęborah'.

The latest of which has been Amatta.

The Art of Visiting

I heard a Hausa proverb that had something to do with relationships and feet . . . I don't remember what it means, but I remember that 'visiting' was mentioned in the conversation.

Regardless of culture, nationality, or people group, relationships are developed through time spent together and the sharing of experiences.  It is, however, culture, nationality, and people group that determines and defines the quantity of time necessary and which experiences are shared when developing relationships.

11 August 2011

And Thus Starts Earwig Season

This morning I made myself a nice tall glass of iced coffee.  It was yummy . . . well, at least the first few sips were.
Now, I’ve eaten some weird stuff in my life.  Giant ants, pirana eyeballs, kangaroo, horse, and snails (twice) . . . just to mention a few.  
What’s all that got to with my iced coffee this morning??  I’m getting to it.

09 August 2011

Unexpected Smiles

It's been a day . . . a week, actually . . . and it's only Tuesday.

I'll spare you the details and just skip ahead to the best part so far.

So this afternoon I had a scheduled outpatient . . . but by the time I got to my office I had another four patients waiting at the door.  My regularly scheduled appointment was the only one who could speak French . . . so you can imagine the chaos and near disaster that scenario was.

07 August 2011

Teaching from Scratch

There was a short period during my childhood when I thought I wanted to be a teacher.  I set my dolls up as 'students' and pretended to give tests and assignments . . . but I realized early on that I seriously lacked the patience and attention span to spend my days imparting knowledge and wisdom to the next generation in a classroom.

So I became an OT.  Which I love.  And have never regretted.

But when I signed on to work at Galmi, I did so with the understand that I would be starting something new here . . . which meant from scratch.  And by 'from scratch' I mean 'FROM SCRATCH.'  When I arrived six months ago, I was given two dozen wrist splints that had been donated a decade ago, a handful of knee immobilizers, and the hospital had a guy that builds crutches.  I'll put it this way, if I were baking a cake, that would mean I've got some chickens out back that lay eggs, some wheat in a field ready to harvest, and a couple of rods of sugarcane.  SCRATCH, people!!

05 August 2011


Another Five-Minute-Friday.


I had a patient today who brought his own crutches with him to the hospital.  They're metal.  But they were slightly too short for him, so I adjusted them.

04 August 2011

Fan Mail

I try not to check my mailbox too often . . . cause it's usually empty.

But the mail came while I was in Niamey.  And this time my box was full.  There were miscellaneous items from the SIM office . . . a postcard from my mom (thanks mom!) . . . and then there was a half-size manilla envelope with my name and address on it.  I didn't know the return address, but I confess I got a little excited when I saw the customs sticker on the bottom left corner.

03 August 2011

Today Niger was Beautiful

I first came to Niger in 2008 for a just-under-a-month-survey-trip.  I had already signed on with SIM and had committed to Galmi Hospital, but since I was starting a new department I knew I had to scope out what was and wasn't available in therapeutic terms.

I'm not going to lie.  As a result of that trip, it took around six months before I even wanted to come back to AFRICA, let alone Niger.  There were many reasons . . . but the main root was fear.

01 August 2011


Five Minute Friday . . . a few days late.

I'm still in Africa.

Uno, CokeLight, and Other Acts of Hospitality

My friend B. was in Niamey this weekend too.  She lives closer, so she gets here more often . . . and has lots more African friends than I do.  After church yesterday, we stopped in at the Pastor's house to say a quick hello.  That turned into a three hour visit.

What started as a very short Just-Popping-in-to-Say-Hi-Since-its-Been-Awhile visit quickly turned into an Uno tournament.  All of which ended in a full-blown meal.