Roosevelt is a seven year old Liberian boy. Three weeks ago, he was hit by a truck and broke his femur. I have taken care of vehicle vs. pedestrian trauma patients before and can tell you that Roosevelt is very lucky that his injuries were limited to a broken femur and some superficial abrasions. It could have been much worse.
Accidents are the number one killer of travelers to Africa. A fresh reminder to be careful when I'm walking on the street. And to always say a prayer before climbing in a taxi.
Roosevelt is twice lucky. Not only did he survive without any life threatening injuries but the Africa Mercy is in Liberia. He is one of our patients.
For the first 72 hours of Roosevelt's stay, he screamed. Seriously, for the full 72 hours. The Peace ward wasn't peaceful. Despite his scheduled narcotics and rescue doses of morphine, the air waves were filled with
"Oh, my leg, my leg."
"AHHH, I'm dying, oh Lord I'm dying."
"Mama, my foot itches. Scratch my foot, ahh, it itches."
From some of his comments, I had the impression that Roosevelt was probably a very naughty boy at home. The kind of boy who you will hide your teenage daughter from someday.
But last week, something changed.
Now, instead of greeting me with screams, he flashes me huge smiles. His two front permanent teeth are coming in and they currently have the cutest little gap between them. At least four times a shift I lean over Roosevelt's bed, rub my nose against his, and we both yell, "Eskimo kisses."
He loves to watch TV and is always requesting that I put a movie on. His favorite is The Crocodile Hunter. All I can say is "Crikey." I've watched it three times this week. I could probably recite the entire movie for you.
The staff here really goes the extra mile to let the patients know we care about them. It's most often in small, subtle mannerisms, but the message is loudly heard.
Roosevelt knows we care about him. I think that's why he now greets me Eskimo kisses instead of borderline profanities.
I prefer the Eskimo kisses.