Saturday, February 2, 2013


As mentioned in previous posts, I am now at CHAD (Community Health and Development). I will be here for about three weeks. I will be honest. This has not been my favorite post. I was excited about it because I knew it would be an opportunity to see what OT in the community looks like through the Indian perspective. After hearing stories like my young patient in Q3 with the spinal cord injury, I was interested in seeing how others like him were doing and what was CMC doing for them. I started the week with great expectations.

And then we visited our first village. Then our second. Then our third. And so on. I returned from work on Monday very disappointed and a little frustrated. I returned from work on Tuesday discouraged and even more frustrated. I returned from work on Wednesday and Thursday in a similar fashion. More discouraged and frustrated then the days prior. I joined the OT intern and some fourth year students on these village visits. Our job was to seek out those in the village who been identified as someone with a disability, assess their condition, provide therapy, record the visit and move on.
This is Martin.
See? I really am here. 
The team... waiting... to start the day. 
Sweet, sweet Mary. 
This is Jayanthi.
Meet Neenu. She and Angeline took Charlie and I saree shopping on Saturday.
Setting out to see our first patient. 
From my perspective this is what happened. We would arrive at a village and find a place to sit down while we formulated a plan of attack. Then we would get up and wander around looking for someone to ask where we could find out first patient. We would walk in the direction they pointed, talk to someone, then start walking the other way. The intern would rummage through the files, pull out another patient file and we would head out in another direction. Like an eager little puppy I would follow along and excitedly ask, “What’s going on? What happened? What did they say? Tell me! Tell me! Let’s go see someone.” The intern would reply with, “We did. They were not there” and walk on. We continue this pattern, occasionally finding someone to talk with and reassess. I would carry on with my questions “What is the diagnosis? What is their age? What are you saying now?” and the intern would do her best to quickly answer my questions in the fewest words possible. Then we would take a break. I would get bored and wonder why we were breaking when we had only been out an hour. I would start taking pictures. Then we would go take lunch. Afterwards we would resume the pattern of walking and talking. When we did meet patients, my greatest challenge was staying awake. I never knew what was going on. I could offer nothing relevant.

We stopped to biscuits shortly after setting out. 
This is where we stopped to buy and eat our biscuits. 
The females of the team. 
Martin. He is the lone boy in his OT batch. Stand strong, young man. Stand strong. 
Some sort of honey treat. It was too sweat for my liking, but not too bad. 
This shoes have covered some ground in the past few days!
Angeline. She was normally laughing or covering her face, so this is a rare shot. She is a load of fun. She giggles at my attempts to speak her language, yet assures me that I'm saying it right. I doubt her. 
The views from (and of) the village. 
A few times I would know the diagnosis prior to meeting the patient and would try to follow along with the gestures to see if I could be helpful. Very little translation happened during the visit, mind you. My mind reeled with questions for the patient. How were they getting along with self-care activities of daily living? Were they able to independently get out of bed and walk? Could they manage toileting independently? What were their leisure activities? And so on. I saw the needs. I couldn’t help. I tried at one point to MacGyver up a long-handled sponge for an elderly patient who noted he was having trouble bathing his lower extremities. I got excited and was about to go all OT on him when we left. (Awwww… just when it was getting good!) The resources are limited, so the creativity has to be brought to a new level. My head was so full of ideas and I was ready to spew them out. My discouragement and frustration led me to divert my attention to taking photos to stay awake as well as capture the beauty of this land.
I took photos of myself while trying to stay awake while we waited at the bus stop. Still not really sure why we were waiting there. We certainly were not waiting for the bus. 
One of the rice flour designs that marks the ground at the entry of a house. 
Beautiful, yet bewildered baby. 
This beautiful woman asked me to take her photos. We pretty much made one another's day. 
This spunky little girl sat as close to me and humanly possibly where ever I sat down. She then began to touch everything I owned. We entertained ourselves during on of the home assessments. 
A young village boy. 
Caught crying.
Another village woman. 
I did appreciate the people of the village. The simplicity of life seemed to create larger smiles and a unique contentment. I was captivated by their colorful lives and warm welcomes. Nearly every house we visited we were asked, at the very least, to sit for a spell. Sometimes we were given various victuals, which were offered with kindness, and received with humility and a prayer that my digestive system was strong enough to keep rockin’ steady. (So far, so good. God is good!)

A street shot. This is what a typical village may look like. 
Well, that is one way to haul livestock.....
The village and surrounding scenery. 
Street shot. 
It was laundry day here. She was one of a few who were washing out the families clothes. 
When walking away from the villages yesterday, I felt like my talents and skills as an occupational therapist (though young and weak) had been exposed to a number beautiful opportunities to change lives, small though those changes may have been. Yet before I had the chance to actually make an impact, I had been ushered away without the option to return. I felt useless. I felt like the OT in me had been bound by the hands with a sock in my mouth and plugs in my ears. I couldn’t listen to the patients because I didn’t understand their words. Plugs in my ears. I couldn’t speak to the patients because they couldn’t understand my words. Sock in my mouth. I couldn’t do anything to help them because I didn’t have enough information to proceed. Bound by the hands. But I could see their tears. I could see they needed intervention. I felt captivated by their lives and held captive by my inability to help.

Tomorrow will be different. I have that hope. I know I am at this placement for a reason. I’m here for a purpose. Tomorrow, my chains may fall off. I hope. 

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