I will never forget the look on M.'s face as she crawled around the corner into my office.
Her twenty year old face pulled off an air of dignity, but her shame filled eyes betrayed what she hid inside.
'Barka!' (Hi!) I welcomed her into my office.
She hesitated, and then, on all fours, entered.
The referring doctor had told me over the phone that she had bursitis in her knee from 'walking on them'. What he didn't tell me was that her tiny sac of fluid was the size of a coconut and that this probably be the most severe case I'd ever see and that her unaffected side had a twenty year old club foot. I was asked to give her crutches and teach her how to walk.
Along with her telling eyes, I will never forget her shoes. They weren't anything out of the ordinary. But what struck me was that she was 'wearing' them under her knees.
I have seen dozens of men and women like her in the streets begging. But she was the first to be in my office.
I confess, seeing her crawl in, I was torn . . . the realist in me thought 'NO WAY! Walking is not possible!' The dreamer said 'She'll be running in no time!' The doubter argued 'Her legs are too weak.' And the OT smiled, 'How about a walker instead of crutches.'
Our first stand was a little rocky. So I tried combining parts from two give-away walkers, but they didn't match up. I glanced in the corner at one of my 'good' ones . . . it was perfect.
She walked from one side of my office to the other . . . okay, so that's not saying much in terms of distance, but she was walking. On her feet.
After resting a few minutes, she was back up. It took all her upperbody strength just to stand, but she did it! She tried hard to hide her smile (it's a cultural thing), but again, her eyes betrayed her. So I smiled big enough for the both of us.
She promised to do her exercises and walk a little more everyday. She asked a few questions and agreed to do what I asked.
And just when I thought it wouldn't make an appearance, an enormous smile streaked across her face. I guess I had said the magic words: Akwai taffiya. 'There is walking.'