Monday, 19 September 2011

Chapter 78 Occupational therapy

Two months ago, in an ill-advised game of pick up basketball, I managed to simultaneously twist my ankle, break my foot and go flying into a nearby wall.

I like to see it as a feat of athletic excellence as opposed to clumsiness.

It has been frustrating clumping along in my boot cast, which eventually started to creak, giving my life and that of those around me an aura of Frankenstein-esque foreboding.

(creak-clump... creak-clump... creak-clump...) you get the picture. 

Also very few of the students have bought into the idea that I'm slowly turning into a robot.

This despite my many attempts at robot dancing.

One of my younger students confided that she hadn't realized my foot was broken. She had been too embarrassed to ask and just let it go thinking:

"Maybe all foreigners dress like that."

For a very common injury in a country used to a large number of fairly horrific ones - people stare a lot while I walk through the souq. Sometimes they point and whisper.

It's weird.

My foot's stubborn refusal to do any kind of healing finally got me looking for an X-ray machine.

Lo and behold, there is an X-ray clinic in our building. Amazingly, there is always somewhere really close by in Nablus that has exactly what you need.

Except bottle openers... but we've talked about that before.

The clinic was pretty dingy and depressing. And empty. I hung around the waiting room somewhat awkwardly for a few minutes before anyone showed up.

A young man finally arrived, walking in from the 'sick people only' side.

"Hi, I want to take an X-ray please."

"Of what?" he says in an end-of-day-leave-me-alone voice.

I look pointedly downwards towards my polyester and steel encased foot.

"Your foot?"


The X-ray machine was old. Very old. Like light years old in terms of technology. They had to do it three times because the clarity was so bad.

Costs aside, it is very difficult for Palestinians to import medical equipment and most of the hospitals are tragically under equipped.

The X-ray
The opposite side of the small-ish room

The X-ray machine controller switchboard thing

This shortage is especially severe when it comes to specialist surgery and pediatrics - both of which are much needed here.

The real tragedy is that thousands of people suffer from ailments, injuries and medical problems that would be totally treatable were the equipment available.

Even if the issue of equipment was put to one side side, there is also a problem of expertise. Medical staff who are unable to go abroad to attend conferences and trainings find it near impossible to be kept abreast of the latest developments in their field.

For all intents and purposes, the field of medicine in Palestine is being held hostage.

I'll let you know how it goes at the doctor's.

My precious

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