At the start of the weekly Patients’ Meetings any patients who have completed their treatment are invited to tell their story to the other patients. On the day I attended the meeting a quiet, reserved young man in his early twenties told us what had happened to him.
Muna was working in a bicycle and motor scooter repair shop in Chittagong when some dacoits (thieves) came to rob the shop. They were armed and during the robbery Muna was shot in the back. He was taken to hospital and the bullet was removed. His legs were paralysed. He remained in hospital in Chittagong for a month. He was sent home and he thought that his life was ended. Two months after his injury he was taken to CRP.
Upon arrival at CRP he was deeply depressed and very nervous. During his four months at CRP he gradually regained hope as he was given physiotherapy. Occupational therapy and took part in leisure activities – wheelchair basketball & table tennis. He slowly regained confidence and hope for the future.
He now feels that he will be able to go back to work in the workshop because, although he is in a wheelchair, he is mobile and can use his hands. CRP has provided him with a wheelchair, a walking frame and leg supports. He can walk very slowly using the supports and the walking frame. But mostly he uses the wheelchair.
CRP has given this young man his life back, not the life that he had but a useful life nevertheless and so much more than he had thought just after the shooting.
The man with a bucket of water.
On my last day at CRP I met a man carrying a bucket of water. He said to me in Bengali ‘Ami Gadj e pani dibo’, I am going to water the trees. We began to chat in Bengali and I asked him where his trees were. I went with him to look at them. He then told me the story of the trees. He lives in a village a long way from Dhaka. He has three sons. His eldest son fell from a palm tree and was paralysed. The boy was brought to CRP and has been receiving treatment. He is now in the half way hostel and his father has come to stay with him. The father told me that they are very poor and could not afford to pay for treatment. He used the words ‘Ghoreeb manush’. The word ‘poor’ does not adequately convey the meaning of these words, destitute is closer to the correct meaning.
Nevertheless, this man wanted to do something to thank CRP for looking after his son, so he had brought two small saplings from his village to plant at CRP. He is taking care of them whilst his son is being cared for. I asked him to take me to meet his son. He agreed and as we were leaving his trees he said to me ‘You know, we will all be gone, but the trees will still be here’.
A very philosophical statement from this devoted father from a simple village background. Yet another moving moment in life at CRP.
Without CRP people like his son would be condemned to a life without hope.
Prosthetics and Orthotics
As part of my visit to CRP I spent time in the prosthetics & Orthotics department observing the ingenious ways the staff produce artificial limbs and many kinds of body supports using locally produced materials.
We went out on to the veranda just as a patient was trying out his new prosthesis, a lower leg and foot. He was a man in his forties and was being watched by his family. The member of staff with me explained that the appearance of the limb would be made to look as natural as possible. The patient continued to walk up and down but then he turned towards us and looked up. He had an enormous smile on his face and his eyes were alight. He was obviously overjoyed that he could walk again and had been given back his mobility. It was a heart warming moment.
When I related the story to the Executive Director he said to me ‘Margaret, these things are happening every day here and it is even more heart warming when you see it happen to a child’.
I joined the Occupational Therapy staff from the Half Way Hostel for their tea break one morning. As we were enjoying the freshly made shingharas an elderly man came up. He was using crutches and the staff began to talk to him. They weren’t sure why he was there as he was supposed to have been discharged that day. With tears in his eyes he told them that he didn’t want to leave without coming to thank them personally for all their help. He had made a huge effort to come and find them. They were all so caring and sympathetic towards him. It was another measure of how much CRP means to all those people they help.
Fall from a rickshaw
A young woman of 28 was involved in a rickshaw accident. She was taken to a hospital in Dhaka but, because she could not pay, she was turned away. Somehow she was brought to CRP. Fortunately for her the surgical team from Leeds Teaching Hospital was at CRP. She was x-rayed and they decided to operate. When she arrived at CRP she could not move her legs and one of her arms. The surgeons operated on her the same day she arrived.
In the evening the team told me about her and showed me a normal x-ray of a spine and then the x-ray of her spine. Even to my unpractised eye the difference was immediately obvious – there was a huge gap in the bones in her neck and the spinal cord was completely exposed.
Because of the prompt action taken at CRP she was able to sit up by the next morning and had movement in both legs and arms.
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