30 March 2012

My Best Hausa

This morning my feisty LOL from the other day called me into her room as I was passing in the hallway. As I made a quick detour into her room, she began thanking me profusely for helping her walk again.  I told her 'No problem, tsohwa (old lady)!'  But she took my hand and just kept on.

So in my best Hausa I said: 'Tsohwa, I work for Jesus.  Really, no problem.'  She stared me.

I repeated myself, this time a little bit louder, as she is, after all, a Little Old Lady.  She blinked at me.

Third time's a charm!  I thought to myself, and said it again.

She patted my hand and said to me: 'Sorry.  I don't hear any Hausa!'

So much for trying!

29 March 2012

Just Relax

Physical therapy as a medical service is still a very foreign concept here at Galmi Hospital.  So many of our patients come from remote villages and barely have access to primary health care, let alone functional rehabilitative services.  There are so many tasks and commands I give to my patients that must seem incredibly bazaar and so out-of-this-world to them.

Today, B. and I were working with a little old lady (her chart said she was 50 years old . . . pretty sure she was actually on the upper end of her sixties . . . which around here is about 107 in western-years) who had one of her legs amputated yesterday.  We were teaching her how to do some important exercises to keep her residual limb flexible and strong.

The first of which required that she lay on her stomach.

28 March 2012

Intro to Greek Mythology

I know . . . I know . . . I know what you're thinking: 'Deb. we understand that you live in the middle of nowhere, but where the heck have you been??'  Well, I've been a bit busy, I guess.

Over the past few weeks, B. and I have been working on memorizing the bones of the foot and the muscles of the lower leg.  He's been getting good at identifying the landmarks and parts on paper.  But unfortunately for B., the foot and lower leg of a real-live person are covered with skin . . . which makes finding important places a bit more of a challenge.

19 March 2012

The Velociraptor

You know that scene in Jurassic Park when two of the main characters are in the resort kitchen, hiding from the Velociraptors?  And he whispers to her that they need to stay very, VERY still.  Well, I think that's the scene . . . it's been a while since I've actually watched it . . . but you get the point.

They are being hunted by predatorial beasts; they are overdosing on adrenaline . . . it's Fight-Or-Flight in it's purest sense.  They don't know if they will survive . . . so they stay very, VERY still, hoping he won't see them (and then eventually eat them).

I relived that scene today.

Only, I wasn't the prey.

I was the Velociraptor.

15 March 2012

Something New

Earlier this week I was asked to see another patient with a spinal cord injury.  A few months ago, he fell into a well.  Now he can't walk.  But he came to our hospital because he's been laying on a mat on the floor of his house since his accident and in turn, developed pressure ulcers.

The good news is, his family has plastic arm chairs.  The bad news is, it's too high for him to get into.  Or, at least that's what he thought three days ago.

12 March 2012

The Teacher Gets Schooled

I've been feeling a bit intimidated by the responsibility of teaching a Nigerien how to work as a therapy aide.  It's a daunting task . . . taking six years of higher education, removing it from a classroom, and making it up as you go along.  But I've decided to give it a go, and so has B., my new trusty sidekick.

Since I'm trying to get him independent with the things I like least . . . I mean . . . the . . . uh . . . easiest things for him to learn (crutch training, post-amputation rehab, and club-foot clinic), we've started at the beginning . . . or pretty close to it: the foot.

You need to understand that B. grew up in the Nigerien education system . . . which is similar to the American education system in that teachers educate students in a place designated as a school.

05 March 2012

Meeting the Kwadda-Kwadda

*Due to security concerns, I cannot, at this time, disclose my current location . . . I'll just say it's not Galmi.  But don't get too homesick, I'll be back soon enough!*

When I first signed up with SIM, the intention was to go to a different hospital, in a different country.  A country where they spoke English and I already knew some people.  But after a bit of a Jonah-process in my life, God closed-and-opened many different doors . . . leaving the FINAL one unlocked . . . the one with 'GALMI' sign on it.

But back before all those door-closings, and I still thought I was going to that other country, I was in SouthAfrica, in a little tiny town in the Draakensburg Mountains spending time with orphans.  At that point, I had been there several times and knew the children well.

'Ahn-tee Deb. whin ah yew kuhming baack tuh see us uh-giin? they would ask with their sweet little accents.  And I would tell them that I didn't know, because I was moving to the other country to work there.  Their eyes would get big and they'd beg me not to go:
'But dey have du Kwadda-Kwadda dere!  Yew can NOT go dere.  The Kwadda-Kwadda are VERY dangerous!  No!  Yew can NOT go DERE!'