Being cruel to be kind
Is this a saying that should be applied to mission initiatives? BMS occupational therapist Megan Barker explains why sometimes it is in her work.
Some people may say that we are taking this saying too far in our practice in Surkhet, Nepal.
A lady called Pabitra came to our unit two months ago after being caught in a landslide and buried by rocks. She was initially treated in India where rods were fitted in her spine and broken legs. Then she was sent home. We had her at the unit early to teach some leg mobilising exercises whilst she was still on bed rest and then she went home until she was ready for active rehabilitation.
Although her vertebrae were fractured, her spinal column is intact, but damaged and needed time to recover. Pabitra had full arm and hand function and some active movement in her legs when she came to us. She was saved from more serious problems because of the load she was carrying on her back. “Wow, how fortunate”, you might say, as she could have been paralysed, but devastatingly the ‘load’ was her eight month-old son who died.
When Pabitra came to us she was very fragile mentally and physically, and we had to be very gentle and take time to gain her confidence before we could get her to engage in active rehabilitation. Now, however, we are really pushing her.
A difficult path
Pabitra comes from an area called Jajarkot, which is remote and hilly. Now that she can walk with just one stick, we need to get her ready for the sort of terrain she will face at home. At first she said she couldn’t do it, but we have gradually gone further down the path till she can now get down, up the other side and back, just with someone alongside her for confidence.
She can do it now and is very happy. As we were doing this I apologised for being cruel and making her do things that are very difficult. I called myself a ‘trouble-giving’ person but she replied: “No, here it is us, the patients, that give the trouble; you are a love-giving person”.
Thanks to all of you for making it possible for me to give love to people like Pabitra.