Friday, September 3, 2010

Minor Miracles and Miraculous Movements

Today at work, while I was therapizing using all my best moves, a chaplain (from Nigeria I think?) poked his head in on my treatment session. The patient I was working with talked to him for a moment and had nothing but praises coming out of her mouth--a truly grateful woman. The chaplain asked her if he could pray with her, to which she agreed, and he invited me to pray with them. So the bird's eye picture looks like me, the patient, and the chaplain: the three of us alone in a hospital room all with heads bowed as he prayed over both of us by name. Very cool experience. Highlight of my day. Even better that despite only 3 people being in the room, we were as diverse as three could be: young and old were represented, male and female, white and black, able bodied and disabled, American, and African, and African American. :) It was lovely. Praise God for moments like this. Feels like humanity at its best.

This is a past story but worth mentioning under the heading of 'miraculous.' Watched a woman walk with no assistance other than a walker, who just a few months ago was considered a paraplegic. When I first met her, she had no movement in her legs--I'm not talking a flicker, Im not talking not much movement to speak of...I'm talking nothing. One morning she woke up and was just able to walk. She said she had been having dreams about being able to walk for the past couple of weeks, so when she felt her legs moving, she thought she was dreaming, and that when she woke up, she would find herself paralyzed again. This is quite possibly the best 'reality check' ever.

Another patient of mine is a young guy who, during his time with me in inpatient had zero movement in his legs until the last few weeks he was with me, and he started getting a tiny quad contraction, but not enough to do much with. Certaintly not anything functional. He discharged in May. Saw him a few weeks ago, and he is up and walking: a full lap around the floor with some measly little forearm crutches. He looked amazing--I couldn't believe it.

Another one of my patients who was hit by a car going highway speed, started his rehab stay with movement in his neck and shoulders, and some biceps, but nothing else. No triceps, no hand function, no abs, no leg movement. Saw him last week, and he was able to kick both legs out straight. He told me he'd be up and walking before I knew it...who am I to doubt him?

One of my patients just got off a ventilator. He is a quadriplegic with no other movement other than his neck and he has the ability to shrug his shoulders. A few weeks go by, and we notice he has a flicker of movement in his bicep. Victory. Another couple of weeks go by, and while I am helping him sit up on the edge of the bed, I notice his hand moving a bit. Could be a spasm, I thought, but why not check... "Mr. XYZ, turn your hand over so you're palm is facing up." Without hesitation, my man goes palm up. "How about the other side?" Boom. Palm up. This is huge. Seems tiny, right? But the implications of this are huge. This could mean he might be able to feed himself one day, this could mean he might be able to drive his wheelchair with a joystick instead of driving with his head, this could mean he has a way to initiate holding his wife's hand. Something that seems so small, but can have a huge impact on someone's life.

This job is a constant reminder of all the things we able bodies take for granted. Count your blessings--they really are endless.

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