It's been a while since I've had a patient with an acute stroke . . . but it's like riding a bike. One with a cool basket in the front and streamers in the handle bars!
I met with my patient in the morning and again in the afternoon. The second time around both his sons were bedside.
They watched as I helped their father sit at the side of the bed and tried to evaluate his functional capacity as well as his physical and cognitive limitations . . . which is quite difficult when my questions translate as:
Where is hand of you? There is hand of you!and:
You give car me . . . no . . . you give cup me! Good! There is car . . . no, cup!I'm sure his sons were evaluating my cognitive functional capacity throughout the whole session!!
Let just say there was plenty of 'babu Hausa' to go around. Unfortunately neither of my patient's sons spoke English or French. Although, I did give both languages a try. They just stared blankly at me.
I tried again.
Words were coming out of my mouth . . . I was telling them what they needed to know and do . . . but they weren't understanding because I was not speaking their language.
Eventually the whole sight was painful enough for my patient's neighbor, and he offered up the service of his elementary English.
The sons and I went back and forth a bit through our new . . . translator. They expressed that they understood some of the things I was encouraging them to do, and I asked if they had any questions.
They did: What happened to our father?
One thing I've learned as an OT is the necessity to take complex concepts and simplify them for the non-medically-trained to understand. I make big words small . . . just don't ask me to make them big again . . . or spell them. But despite my efforts at simplifying the explanation of a Cerebral Vascular Accident, or 'Stroke', the terms were still too technical for our translator.
I tried again.
It wasn't working.
My gut reaction was to express frustration at our lack of a common language . . . and that's when it hit me . . . their father's body was experiencing our same frustration!
'Right now, your father's brian is speaking in English. But his body speaks Hausa. So, we have to teach his brain Hausa again so that his body can understand what his brain is telling it to do.'
That, they understood.
Sure it doesn't answer the physiological question of 'What happened to our father?' but they understood that there has been a change in the part of the body calling the shots . . . and that the brain and the rest of him could learn to communicate again.
All thanks to our earlier attempts of failed communication.
I guess 'babu Hausa' really does come in handy!