28 October 2011

The Gift of Play

The other day I was treating a 13 year old boy with metastatic cancer.  He came to Galmi to have an amputation of one of his legs, about at the level of his hip.  My job was to help him be able to walk with crutches and to improve his sitting balance.  Crutches were a near disaster, so I put him in a wheelchair and brought him to my office.  His dad came with.

Working in this culture, I've learned that if I want a man to participate in a therapy session and not get between me (a woman) and my patient, it is best if I give him a specific task and responsibility.  So Baba was assigned to sit on a stool facing his son and toss a balloon with him.


My kiddo did better than I thought sitting on his own stool, so I moved him to a giant Theraball which created an unstable base, requiring a greater effort from his core stabilizing muscles.  His sense of balance was getting quite the workout.  His body required more coordination of him than it had ever before.

But none of that mattered.

He was playing.

With his dad.

It was hard to tell which one was having more fun.  It was obvious they had never tossed a balloon together.  I wondered if they had ever even played catch . . . or kicked a soccer ball . . . or . . . .

Sitting behind this kiddo, keeping him in the desired therapeutically-advantageous position, I watched them lunge and reach to keep the red balloon from hitting the floor.  They laughed and cheered.

It was beautiful.

After forty-five minutes of this, I told them time was up.  They were disappointed, but both still glowing.  Father and son had discovered 'play.'

14 comments:

LauraG said...

I love this! just beautiful. 

L. Hardy said...

Ah, Deb - what a beautiful story!  you have such a special place there at G.  I hope you're doing well and enjoying the challenges!  i miss my neighbor...

Shal said...

Beautiful.

Chcpe said...

When we play we are happy...there is a whole brain based reason for this, but it is not rocket science...go play! The best part was that you got dad to play with his son...good work by you.

Deb. said...

Soon (tomorrow) I will be on my way from Paris to Niamey, then Niamey to Galmi, and I, also, can watch what goes on first hand!  Wow!!!  Robn

Deb. said...

Hi MaryKay.....I am sitting at Deb's computer in the kitchen of the where she went to school for French waiting to eat another delish French meal.....

Deb. said...

Thanks Laura!

Deb. said...

Howdy Neighbor!!

Deb. said...

It's good to be an OT!

Deb. said...

Thanks Chip! Miss you guys!

Claudiabrochinsky said...

Way to go Deb!  You're such an inspiration...keep up the great work.  Miss you.

Deb. said...

Thanks!

Anitamonroe66 said...

Hi Debra!  I have been away since your Mom arrived in Niger so wanted to check and see how she is doing.  It sounds like you may have been able to get a few days together.  Thinking of you both!

Anita

Deb. said...

Thanks Anita! It's been great having her here.