Day 49 – Kind Words and Pretty Patterns

I sat in the office and smiled and ‘hello’d everyone as they came in and after waiting another 5 minutes stepped over to ask where I’d be working. They poured over the list where my name was absent and I was assigned helping out Ward 6 with Reshard; despite his own minimal PPE – a mask and gloves – he almost insisted I wore a mask until I used my usual excuse that people struggled to understand me won over. My personal reason was that in the afternoons I wore no PPE at all, including an apron, so what difference did it really make when treating the patients? It was a risk I undertook probably far too lightly.

What was very cute was when I walked onto the ward Man was there to greet me as usual and even though he was not due therapy, he specifically asked to let me do a session with him. Small bit of background into Man: around 11 years old he follows around the older lads on his long trolley due to some small pressure sores on his back, he could be found anywhere and everywhere and always calls out ‘Imo! How are you?’ whenever he glimpses you even from either end of the ward corridor in the high pitched silly tone we’d all adopted when speaking to one another. He has a huge grin, hair that he gels into spikes and Abu treats him carefully like an older brother would. During Abu’s therapy yesterday I’d got distracted by becoming a human punchbag for Man with boxing gloves on, so it was easy to decide what kind of therapy to do today. My only reservation was that I didn’t want to see Man as a patient, I didn’t want to know about his pressure sores or his paraplegic leg or catheter, I just wanted to muck about and be as childish as he should be. Nevertheless, it only inclined me towards making the therapy as fun as possible and I don’t think he stopped laughing the whole time.

Another grateful patient who asked for me I’d spoken to a week ago about reading English books as his English was fairly moderate and I was hesitant this time because I felt some of the patients were building me up a reputation I fear I might fail to reach. I’m fairly sure it’s mostly achieved through the status of my Nationality and therefore foreign curiosity, but it only makes me uneasy that I can’t give them the level of therapy they might be expecting to receive. For this reason, at the end of his session which was also held on a long trolley, I apologised for not having done more. Confused, he asked why I was apologising, and I realised I didn’t have an answer so quickly backed out of the ward.

I felt guilty later with another new patient who said I’d treated him on my first day with another PT, Liton, but honestly I was never going to remember that. Regardless of the pain I seemed to put him through whilst stretching out some tight muscles, he’d left the session saying ‘Hopefully I see you tomorrow, Inshallah.’ I realise now that as I add the feeling of elation to my list of today’s emotions, I’m surprised I’m not mentally exhausted.

And this was probably due to the very relaxed afternoon when Aaliyah and I walked onto the women’s ward at 2pm, shocked to find Tee in her wheelchair with another girl from the ward playing catch in the centre of the room. May, meanwhile, was completing the henna pattern on Sam’s hand using the paint her Mum had bought that morning. This was the reason we’d come. When we left women’s ward, Aaliyah and I had each gained our own personal artwork inked into our skin with the promise that tomorrow our other hand would receive the same gift. Surprisingly, I’d walked into ward 11 to see Shak and hopefully inspire more conversation to end the day and noted that nearly everyone else in the CRP was sleeping or on the verge of whereas the ward usually the most inanimate and dark, was alive with artwork and sport.

Finding nothing else to do at 3:45, we also cut the day short and went to go sleep.

It should be easy to spot which one is mine

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