Monday, 21 September 2009

A Powerful Lesson from a Patient

An eye opening lesson from a boy born blind - may even bring a tear to the eye.

Occupational Therapy is a very rewarding profession. Over the nearly 19 years since qualifying, it is safe to say each patient teaches one something. Each client opens one's eyes in a different way.

The following lesson was taught by a little blind boy. At least at the time he was little. This boy was born with Juvenile Chronic Arthritis (JCA) and was blind as a complication. He had spent most of the 6 years prior to my meeting him in hospital undergoing one or other test, surgical procedure or other therapeutic intervention. I first met him on ward round when the doctor of the Opthalmology Ward wondered if he was trainable.

After a little education on the role of occupational therapy with the blind and with JCA, the doctor agreed to an evaluation and to occupational therapy if indicated. For the next 18 months, this little boy underwent intensive occupational therapy. By the end of this, he was found to be not only trainable but certainly educable. He was discharged from hospital speaking 3 languages, walking, dressing, eating independently, posting shapes into the appropriate slot, going to the toilet and much more. He developed a keen interest in everything and a wonderful sense of humour.

His sharp hearing enabled him to imitate the nuance or accent of anyone who came to talk to him. He could identify someone approaching by their foot steps and was always ready with a question, a greeting and a smile.

On one occasion, a month or so before he was discharged, I was the one to pose him a question. I wanted to see just how his cognition had developed and so posed certain questions. One of them was if he was given 3 wishes that would come true, what would he choose. His answer is a lesson to all of us.

"I only have 2 wishes, he said. To praise the Lord and to go to school."

This little boy had come a very long way from being contracted in the foetal position unable to say a single word or to do anything for himself. His discharge was in deed in order to go to school. As for praising the Lord, this he did spontaneously on a daily basis.

Life has a tendency to throw us curve balls. Challenges, hurdles, tests. As we move from Rosh HaShanah to Yom Kippur may our wishes too be to Praise the Lord, despite such huge challenges as this little boy did, and to go to school. Remember, life really is a big school and every moment provides the opportunity to learn and to grow. May we always grow in the direction that comes closer to Hashem, closer to Truth and closer to Moshiach, a time for world peace. Shanah Tova. May we all merit to be sealed in the book of life for a year of everything good, a good that is revealed, visible and manifest

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