28 January 2012


I’ve had a really fantastic caseload this week.  I’ve been busy, but my patients are challenging, and interesting, and I’ve really enjoyed them as people!

There’s K. with the TBI . . . his enthusiasm in each treatment session is contagious and his determination is inspiring.

And H. who comes for hand therapy . . . she expresses deep gratitude with each small step of progress which helps remind me that I love my job, not for the thank you’s, but for the small steps that help people live again.

There’s also Little H. who still cries and hides his face every time he sees me coming, but whose struggle to survive keeps present in my mind the reality that life is fragile and short, but worth the fight.

I have others too, but I really want to tell you about M. . . . who, after today, will be fondly referred to as ‘Pélé.’

26 January 2012

Oh Yeah, I'm Still Here

Sometimes I forget that I'm not working the US any more.  One would think that my surroundings would remind me on a minute-by-minute basis . . . but no.

And normally I don't remember until I do something my patients find ridiculous!

Like, today, for example.

22 January 2012

Niger in the News

Interesting article on the food crisis in Niger and the ongoing conflict in the northern region of our southern neighbors.

Click here to read it straight from the BBC.

20 January 2012

Flash. Mob.

We all have a Bucket List.  Mine is decently long.  But I confess, sometimes I add things after I've already done them, because I'm not actually creative enough to come up with interesting and adventurous Must-Do-Before-I-Kick-It's.

But one thing that has been on The List since I first discovered it, was to dance in FlashMob.

And so, that's just what I did.

19 January 2012

Promises . . . Galmi Style

One of the worst parts of living in Galmi is that our compound has a revolving door.  In my first year here, we've had over 100 'short term' folks come, help, and leave.  ONE HUNDRED!  That's a lot of hellos and goodbyes.

Today, our friend, SwissA, left.

Saying goodbye is a way of life here . . . but it doesn't really get easier.

To ease our grief with the departure of yet another who shares our experiences in this crazy corner of the world, Cool-J and I ate chocolate.

My Own Mango Princess

If you've never read Where is the Mango Princess by Cathy Crimmins , you should.  It is the firsthand account of a wife's journey with her husband as he returns to life after a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  It's funny and sad all at the same time.

Kind of like my therapy session with L. today.

18 January 2012

Adventures in TBI

I like burn care.  I'm good at it.  I understand it.  It makes sense.  It's logical.  The burn healing process is predictable.

Unlike that of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).  Which is anything but predictable!

Right now, on my caseload, I have two guys in their early 20's that both have a severe TBI.  And while at first I was a bit nervous about it, I'm having a ball!

13 January 2012

I'll Be Ready

Yesterday I was working with a guy who shares a room with three other patients.  Each of the four has a caregiver who sleeps on a mat on the floor at the base of the patient's bed.  It makes for a crowded treatment session, but after a year, I'm getting used to it.

As I was helping my patient sit up in bed when suddenly there was some background music.  It was a ringtone coming from the brother of the man staying in the bed across from my patient.  It took him a few runs through to find where he had put his phone, so I had enough time to recognize the tune.

I knew the tune, but couldn't place it.  I began humming it to myself.  And that's when it hit me!

It was the theme song from Baywatch!  HA!

12 January 2012

The Cries We Like to Hear

For about six weeks now, I've been treating a little boy who is not quite two.  Little H. has partial thickness burns over the entire right side of his body.  He was burned by hot oil.

It has taken a significant effort to keep this little guy alive.  There were several periods over the last month and half that I wasn't sure he would survive.  At one point he refused to eat or drink anything and his surgeon ordered a nasogastric tube.

It took a few educational sessions, but we were able to teach his mom how to feed him via the tube in his nose and how to keep it clean.  We had to put little mittens on his hands, yet he still managed to pull the tube out twice.

11 January 2012

Pipe Dreams

Today, I shared a fabulous bonding moment with the old plumber that works for our hospital.  I love this old man . . . not as much as I love my own Soho from the OR, but almost.  He's gentle and kind and always assumes I speak more Hausa than I actually do.

My shower has always had a bit of a drip . . . but while I was away for the conference, it turned into more of a stream.   

I had been advised that when it comes to leaky faucets, it's best to try and fix it yourself.  So that's what I did.  

But that was a really dumb idea. 

Sweet Applause

No, I haven't been ignoring you . . . or holed up like a hermit.  I've been away at our annual country-wide spiritual life conference in the capital.  So not to worry, I've got a few pre-written saved-up posts coming your way.  Thanks for your patience.

Yesterday, one of our short-termers, Cool-J, came to work with me.  She shadowed me for the morning and then shared a bit on her own blog . . . which I HIGHLY recommend!  So please skip on over to Cool-J's No Zebras Here and read her account of Sweet Applause.