29 November 2013

Reason #476 Why I Have the Best Job Ever

When I was in high school I wanted to go grow up and take pictures for a living.  I wanted to go to art school and study photography and drawing.

But my parents said 'Over our dead bodies!!' (maybe in a slightly more tender way . . . then again, maybe not).

My mom always suggested becoming a doctor . . . but I hated math and who in their right mind wants to spend all those years in the library??  Not me!!  So I thought about Physical Therapy.  I began passing my Saturday mornings volunteering at a local hospital, pushing wheel chairs and pulling oxygen tanks . . . I helped clean out the Hubbard Tank after burn patients had dressing changes . . . and I knew I had found my calling . . . until one day, a new therapist showed up and changed everything!

28 November 2013

Therapy from Scratch

In the past few days I've inherited three new burn patients . . . two of which are pint-sized girlies with terrible burns to their hands.  One was caused by boiling water, the other by hot oil.

Selon moi, there is no worse injury than a burn.  It is incredibly painful and in some cases the healing process takes a year of compression therapy and several more of reconstructive surgeries and contracture releases.  For those with face and hand burns there are often psychological scars as well, as many struggle with self-image issues and social isolation.

On top of that, when a more severe burn injury crosses a joint, there are often functional deficits as a result.  As an Occupational Therapist, it's my job to do whatever I can to limit those deficits.  Using special hand splints, for example, is one way to help the thumb, fingers and wrist stay in a 'position of function', providing a continual stretch to certain bits of important anatomy in order to guard against tissue 'shortening'.

But those splints are expense.  And they don't exist in Niger.  And I've tried multiple different materials that have either been too strong we cannot mold them, too weak they don't hold the proper position, or too water-soluble we can't clean them.  But I'm happy to say, Plan D has finally worked!!

23 November 2013

My Cultural Reflex

Despite these years of living out of the UnitedStates, there is still so much 'American' in me.  I love chocolate chip cookies . . . apple pie . . . and pumpkin spice lattes.  I root for the Yankees (even when they lose) . . . I, like everybody else, love Raymond . . . and I even own a pair of Crocs.  Thanksgiving is my favorite . . . I take Tylenol when I have a headache . . . and I learned to drive in a car with an automatic transmission.

No matter which visa is current, my passport is still American.

And, regrettably, so are most of my initial reactions.

18 November 2013

My Gym Runneth Over

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want . . . my cup overflows, surely goodness and mercy will follow me and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23: 1, 5&6

PT-E. shows B. the ropes of SCI Rehab
Since my arrival in 2011, we've had several visiting Occupational & Physical Therapy practitioners and students.  It's always wonderful to have helping hands and moral support!  And this past week I had a small taste of a dream-come-true.

For three days, our gym was packed . . . it's often busy, but not like this!  For starters, our visiting orthopedic surgeon has come for a month, so our little department is even busier than usual . . . which means long hours and lots of therapeutic exercise. 

But there is a saying: many hands make light work . . . and last week we had many, MANY hands!

08 November 2013

Legs for Life

My dear friend E. is running a marathon on Sunday . . . in Malibu.

One of our [many] amputee patients hard at play . . . I mean, work.

Just thought you'd like to know.

Well, okay, so I don't typically use my blog to advertise the athletic participations or social calendars of my people at home . . . but this is different.  E. isn't racing for herself, she's running on behalf of those in Niger who can't.

E. is running to raise awareness and funds for the Galmi Hospital Prosthetics Clinic project.  Many of you write to me asking for ways you can participate in the work from afar or how you can donate towards the cause.  Well, here's a perfect way.

Help E. reach her goal and the clinic reach ours!  Every little bit helps!  [Give here]

03 November 2013

Judging the Elephants in the Bus

DavidSedaris is an American humorist whose essays are regularly read on NPR and collected in books such as Me Talk Pretty One Day.  One of my favorite stories he tells details a run in with some tourists that he has on the M├ętro while living in Paris.

The couple loudly scrutinized his appearance and accused him of being a pickpocket . . . while he stood next to them!  He explains that they clearly assumed he was French and therefore did not speak English; he details his judgement of them as obnoxious and ignorant travelers.

And today, I felt a lot like him.