Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Jesus had dirty feet

So maybe you've been to a church where you've had a foot washing service.  ComChap had ones around Easter in Richmond...  So you go, there's a basin of water, and you wash your friends' (or acquaintances) nice, already clean feet.

Recently, I have come to realize more what it would actually look like when Jesus washed the disciples feet or when the woman washed Jesus' feet with her hair.  My feet stay in a pretty constant state of dirty-ness.  Despite multiple washings...  Underneath the toenails, around the cuticles, I just can't get the dirt out, even if I'm wearing tennis shoes, somehow the dirt gets into the shoe and sock...  So imagine what it was like in Biblical times when the streets were not paved and they didn't have easily accessible running water.  Washing feet takes on a whole new meaning when you think of what it was really like. 

But to be honest, I would love to have someone really take the time to scrub my feet clean...I've been working on it myself obviously, but sometimes you just can't bend your leg up well enough for a long period.  I have been doing some feet cleaning myself today - when a person has been casted for months, basically a couple millimeters of skin on the sole of their feet will flake off with a little rubbing.  I had the chance to take the cast off (my best looking bivalved cast to date I might casting skills are slowly improving) of a kid who is finally out of the cast after months, and picked off quite a lot of skin.  (It gets kinda addictive, like when you're peeling after a sunburn.)  He took his first steps with crutches out of the cast, and he was very excited to be done with the cast.  (His feet still needed some cleaning at home though...)

So contrast that with one of my favorite verses: "How beautiful are the feet of those that bring good news."    Or in context: Romans 10: 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” 

So when you think of Jesus' dirt-caked feet and how good the news was that He brought, I'm not quite so concerned about my dirty feet, but bringing the good news - most commonly for me that equates into: "You're healed enough to come out of your cast", or "You're improving, and I'm so proud of you".  But that's perhaps a little more shallow than I should be - the ultimate good news is that Jesus loves each and every one of my patients and coworkers, so that when I give the "bad news" of "there's nothing else I can do to help", "the orthopedic surgeon is no longer here", "we have to cast your child's feet again because they're relapsing into the club foot position" - if I could be intentional about sharing the true good news in the happy and the sad, maybe then I would approach having some beautiful feet...  Despite the dirt, plaster of paris and other random things on them...

P.S. Another thought on cleaniliness...  You know when you were growing up and your mother told you to wash behind your ears (I don't really remember if Mama had to tell me this often), and I always thought that was such a silly thing.  I mean, that spot never gets dirty.  Well, welcome to Conakry, where you get dirty behind the ears...TIA (This Is Africa).

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Follow up on my cool patient story

So work has been going well - I'm starting to get the hang of things a bit more - I still am not very good about casting, but since many of the patients are getting out of casts at this point, it's more like what I would do in the States as far as restoring range of motion, regaining strength and the ability to walk.  We just got our new hand therapist in - Emily is from England and is very good at what she does as a hand therapist.  As we begin the Plastic surgery rotation in March, with another hand therapist coming in, I will get to learn a lot about contracture releases, scar management, pressure garments, splinting, etc.
So the exciting news of the week has been that the patient I wrote about earlier who has spina bifida, and then got menengitis, which actually was the healing factor for his cerebrospinal fluid leak.  So he's been doing so well with regaining his walking ability with a walker (we ziptied and duct taped a platform onto the R side because he didn't have much R hand function), but he started doing steps (our goal was 3 the first week but he did 16) and amazing us so we decided to try a trip to the Hope Center which is where the patients who live far away but still need outpatient care stay (a bed with a mattress underneath for a caregiver and a mosquito net over it all).  There are ~60 patient beds.  So Wednesday we made a trial trip (about a 10 minute drive when traffic is moderate), going down the 42 steps to get out of the ship, getting up in the back of a Land Rover with little assist.  We'll call him Abe for short.  Abe had such a smile on his face getting to the Hope Center and getting to see where his new "home" would be as he starts taking outpatient therapy.
Since last Wednesday was successful, Monday Abe was discharged to the Hope Center.  I heard a Land Rover leaving just before noon and figured it was him, seeing a hand waving out the back, I ran from the tent to send him off - they stopped at the gait and I got to wave goodbye a little closer. 
Monday night some friends and I went out walking and we just happened by the Hope Center and I got to check out Abe in his new surroundings.  He was happily sitting outside watching TV after dinner with the other patients. 
After walking down 42 steps!!  Myself, Emily (OT - now back in US), and Mom were so proud!!
Today he came for his first round of outpatient therapy.  We took lots of breaks, but worked on balance, walking with less support in the parallel bars, some fine motor skills with the weak R hand.  He'll be back tomorrow, so I tried not to tire him out too badly...  It's easy for me to go overboard (any former pts out there probably know I tend to push things if possible to the optimum).  ;)