Fieldset
Confidence

Some of the injured children are quite clearly emotionally traumatized, too. One is an 8-year-old boy who had a left leg compartment syndrome. We will call him Bobby.

Some of the injured children are quite clearly emotionally traumatized, too. One is an 8-year-old boy who had a left leg compartment syndrome. We will call him Bobby.

(Compartment syndrome is swelling in a relatively closed 'compartment' in the leg, enclosed by tough membrane called fascia causes increased pressure in that space and therefore reduced blood flow, as well as nerve damage. The treatment is to surgically open the compartment to relieve the pressure a fasciotomy).

He still needs dressings done under anaesthesia every five days. His foot does not move well. He is pale with anemia. Sullen most of the time. Moans and swats away at anyone who tries to touch his leg or foot. Resistant to trying to move his knee or ankle.

The physiotherapists have not been able to make much progress with him. Our mental health team has been trying, too.

One person only has gained Bobby's confidence. He is a very experienced now-retired orthopedics/trauma nurse, who functions here like a doctor. He is certainly better qualified than I am for a lot of these patients with complex fractures, external fixations, traction sets, and ugly open wounds. Bobby asks for him constantly. I came across them yesterday afternoon.

There they were in the late afternoon sun: a gruff French-Canadian orthopedics nurse and a traumatized little boy, Bobby's weight on the nurse's arm clumsily manipulating his new crutches and touching his good leg to the ground. No moaning. They did half the length of the tent and back again. I think everyone in the tent was paying attention. It was momentous and moving.

It seemed brief but draining, his first time away from his bed in weeks, perhaps. And back in bed, the nurse then coaxed him into a few range-of-motion exercises: raising and straightening the injured leg, which are important for regaining muscle strength and preventing contractures (deforming shortening of ligaments). Again, there was no moaning and no swatting. No words either: but Bobby's acquiescence spoke volumes.