14 May 2014

A Handful of Miracles

In the three years I've been in Galmi, we've had some amazing therapists and therapy students come to visit.  Whether they've come for two week or two months, our OTs and PTs have all left their mark.

While I was away, we've had an OT-extraordinaire here covering.  M. has been a breath of fresh Canadian air for our little department . . . and has definitely made an impression.

Yesterday she was telling me about an unusual case she saw while I was gone . . . and today I got the rest of the story from B.

I didn't quite catch how M. became involved with this patient, but he had taken a fall of some type which resulted in a malunion femur fracture and a hip deformity.  After spending several weeks in traction, it was determined he was not a surgical candidate.  Unsure how to proceed, the team consulted the therapy department with the hope of getting the patient mobile.

Due to the hip/pelvic/femoral instability, there weren't many options, but M. pulled out all the stops and left the entire ward speechless.

Using scraps of donated splinting material, goat skin (you read that right!) and buckles, M. made a clam-shell brace that would secure the femur so that her patient would be able to walk.

And walk he did!

M. modestly said that once the brace was secure, he popped right out of bed and wandered around on the crutches.  B. produced a pic on his camera phone and it looked fantastic.  OT ingenuity at its best.

But today, I had a few minutes alone with B. and he expressed his amazement at what was so much more than the fabrication of an unusual but simple brace.

'D√©borah, it was fantastic!' he said.  'The surgeons didn't know what to do, so M. suggested the brace, they let her do it, but they didn't believe it would work.  No one believed it!  Even the doctor told me it was a waste of time.  He kept saying it wasn't going to work, so I told him that she knows what's doing and he should just trust her.'

As he continued the story, B. glowed with pride.  'As she placed the brace over the fracture site, the patient asked me if it was really going to work.  None of the other people in the room believed it was possible.  They all kept saying he'd never walk again and that she was just wasting her time.  But then . . . then he stood and began to walk!  Everyone in the room cheered!  He went into the hallway and everyone followed!  No one could believe it!'

And then B. said something I will never forget:
'You [OTs] walk around with miracles in your hands.'
Most days I feel like the needs our patients have are so much bigger than what we are able to provide for them.  But B. is right . . . in this context where resources are so limited and the impact of illness and disability is so drastic, the little bit we can do has exponential outcomes.  Occupational Therapy is the profession where science collides with art, movement transforms into function, and the ability overflows with purpose and meaning.

B. is starting to understand the power of critical thinking and he is hungry to learn how to see the world the way M. and I do.  He recognizes that the gift of rehabilitation is not just for walking, it is for living.  He saw, with his own eyes, a man--who was about to be sentenced to a life spent on a mat--get up and walk.

Reminds me of the time that Jesus told the paralytic 'Get up . . . roll up your mat, you won't be sitting on it any more . . . and walk away from here!'  The miracle of the impossible happening . . . all for the Glory of God.


Stephanie said...

YES! Put it on your shingle: "Lives Transformed, Deb Berruti OT" Sometimes God heals supernaturally, and sometimes He works through creative minds and willing hands. (And sometimes, He uses a little of both!) Neither is any less a miracle!

Leah said...

Awesome. The power of critical thinking…if you can impart that there, it will go an incredibly long way. That's what's hard to deal with here--the thought that no checklist or textbook answer means no answer at all. So difficult to overcome and help people see the power and ability within them.