Rebeka had lots of visitors this first week of being in a cast, and racked up an impressive array of signatures.
I didn’t realize the real benefits of a “soft” cast versus a hard cast until this evening. A hard cast requires a saw to remove, and even though that saw doesn’t cut skin, I still think this would have distressed Rebeka. A soft cast doesn’t need a saw. Tonight, the night before she receives her next cast, we were allowed to remove the old cast and give that leg and foot a nice bath. The big unwrap occurred after dinner, with all five of us gathered around, taking turns yanking at the stiff bandages, and Rebeka watching with a big grin on her face.
This was her first week in a cast. She was given permission to put weight on it and walk around the house, but not until the last couple days did she even try. She pointed to her ankle area and frowned. It was either too sore, or too unstable, to try. We’ve got a wheelchair in the back of the car for longer excursions. For quick trips to Target or the grocery store we try and score one of those big plastic kid carts that has a seat. If those are taken, Rebeka is happy to sit right in the cart and we tuck our merchandise around her.
We’ve discovered she loves to sit on the back porch in the evening. It’s her “loudest” time of day. She busts out in Kinyarwanda, jabbering about something or other. Sometimes we’ll sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat in English, or she’ll recite nursery rhymes she learned back in her school in Rwanda. Ever heard the “Cha-cha-cha-cha-cha, Who is that? I am Old Mother Pussy Cat . . .?” Neither had we, but Rebeka will be happy to teach it to you and then laugh hysterically when you say it. And did you know there’s a different way to sing the alphabet song? A way where the “L-M-N-O-P” don’t get all squashed together?
We’re beginning to figure each other out a little better. Rebeka plays a mean game of memory, and she’s not beyond trying to trick you by pointing to the wrong card to make you lose a pair. She’d much rather prop herself up by the kitchen sink and help me wash dishes than sit at the table and watch. She’ll take a bite of just about anything, but she doesn’t hesitate to spit it right back out if she doesn’t like it. She makes funny faces over my shoulder while I carry her places, trying to get one of the other kids to laugh. She’s shy with new people, and even around us she doesn’t talk much, but she’s taking it all in. She understands a lot.
She understands when the doctor says “Don’t get your cast wet” and she protects it better than I do in the tub. She understands when we tell her, “Don’t put weight on that foot once we take off the cast, just to be sure,” and she doesn’t even touch a toe to the floor when she’s standing. She understands that tomorrow she’ll get another cast.
But there is something I’m not sure she understands. If these casts work, it is a very long process before we’ll see any results. Months. With lots of twists and turns and possible failures along the way. And there’s a strong possibility that the casts won’t work at all. As she sat on her little pink plastic stool in the bathroom tonight and tenderly examined her left foot, then gently pressed the bottom of it to the floor, testing to see if she was all fixed yet, my heart ached. And I prayed, “Please God, heal this little girl’s feet.”
She wanted to go out and watch the middle school boys practice football this afternoon. We sat on the bleachers and she watched them closely as they dodged orange cones and chased each other around the field. I know she wants to be out there. I know how badly she wants to run and play. And I know these casts are a long shot. But still, we hope and pray. And while we “wait and see,” we marvel at this little girl who has come across an ocean, leaving family and home and all that is familiar to come to this land of white people who do strange things. Like run in place for forty minutes (treadmill) or eat strange things like marshmallows and meat loaf. But not together. Even we aren’t that strange.
A big thank you to all of you who have sent encouraging notes or emails or posts, or come by to visit, or taken Rebeka on little excursions. We are blessed beyond measure.
I’m so glad you’re sharing Rebeka’s journey with us. The pictures help make it real. Will she be going to school in your community during the long months of treatment?
So eager to share her story . . .school would be great for her. She loves to be around other kids and I think it would help her learn English quicker, but it’s hard to find the right match. She had just started kinder in Rwanda, and she doesn’t speak English so maybe an ESL class, but she really should be with nine or ten year olds, not five year olds, even though that’s where she’s at academically. Probably doing homeschool for a while, wish me luck!
Meredith – I’m inspired by your sense of calling. Homeschooling makes sense. Within the homeschooling community, Rebekah can be around kids close to her age in an informal setting — less regimented — open to accommodating her. Kids will have lots of questions about her condition, where she comes from, etc., and in the homeschooling world, there’s great flexibility. Another kid might decide to write a paper about Rebekah! Or study Rwanda. A win-win for everyone who interacts with her. Yes — good luck! Looking forward to your next post…