One of my favourite scenes from the brilliant movie “The Commitments” from 1991 is when “brother” Jimmy Rabbitte explains the essence of the music he wants to play to the new band members, using a James Brown song from 1968 as an illustration.
When one of them expresses his doubts saying “maybe we’re a little white for that kind of thing?”, brother Jimmy explains:
“The Irish are the blacks of Europe. And Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. And the Northside Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin. So say it once and say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud.”
On Sunday morning, we jump-started Pádraig’s Kia car and made our way to the first ferry. At lunch time, and after a good rest, the car started well (!) getting us off the ferry and across England to a second ferry to Holland, from where it was just seven hours to Pforzheim.
We thought a lot about the decision to make this journey. Then, when we had taken it, things happened quickly. We gave notice of our emergency plans and requested letters to explain why this journey had become necessary, just in case. We planned the safest way to make this journey, eliminating as much as possible contact with other people. And we planned in as much detail as possible what we were going to do once we got here.
Eventually, all worked out really well and we arrived in one piece, though completely exhausted, almost 36 hour later, at our destination.
On our roadtrip through Coronaland, we discovered that anywhere you go you have to wear a mask. No discussion, no exceptions. If you haven’t got one, they sell you one. We discovered that a litre of Diesel now costs less than a euro, even beside the motorway which is usually much more expensive. There are plenty of really well kept spaces where you can check and clean your car. All part of good customer service, surprisingly well kept when you’re coming from Ireland.
Therapies here start at eight, we have to get up early. There is not a minute wasted.
Last year, we had gone to the SLT clinic in Lindlar and had skipped our regular sessions in Pforzheim. To meet our friends again after now two years was really nice.
Sadly, there is no other word than ‘shock’ to describe the reaction of Pádraig’s therapists here when they saw the state of Pádraig’s hip and knee. They had been used for Pádraig to make progress each time they saw and treated him, they expected him to participate better each time he comes here. While they were truly impressed by his increased body control and startling cognitive abilities, the condition of his right hip shocked them.
They said that if his hip had been in a good condition, his general physical and mental state was so good that they’d be using a walking frame to walk with him now. But plans had to be adapted. We booked an MRI for Monday and discussed several possible scenarios. Therapists and a doctor who checked his hip agreed that it was most likely dislocated.
“A dislocated hip can lead to serious long-term debilitating problems, especially if it is severe or not adequately treated within hours of occurrence“, is what a US-based specialist hospital website says about hip dislocation.
For months, Pádraig had had great difficulties stretching out his right leg because of his hip problem, a problem I had pointed out to as many people as I could. He was not able to lay down and stretch out that leg. When sitting, his right knee was very clearly ‘off level’ with his left knee.
… which, it seems, should not have come as a surprise:
“When the pelvis is out of alignment, the load of our body weight is distributed into the legs unequally. As a result, any one of the joints in the legs, particularly the knees, can be adversely affected over time. Additionally, there is an increased risk of an acute injury because of the resultant instability.”, says another website.
Here is a bit of an impression of what Pádraig has been doing during the week.
We went to Pforzheim because I was very worried. Pádraig urgently needed specialist care for his hip problem.
Pádraig’s life matters.
That’s why we went.
Say it loud. I am proud.
We won’t quit movin’ until we get what we deserve
We’ve been buked and we’ve been scourned
We demand a chance to do things for ourselves
We’re tired of beatin’ our head against the wall
We’re people, we’re like the birds and the bees
We rather die on our feet than keep livin’ on our knees
Michelle in AMERICA said:
Good luck Patrick!!
Thinking of you often.
Thank you, Michelle!
Ger Harrahill said:
I think you are all amazing and so inspiring. So delighted that Padraig has improved so much. Love and best wishes to you all. Ger xxxxx
So nice to hear from you, Ger. And thank you so much for your kind words. Every parent is amazing and inspiring. That’s what makes them parents. We must meet up again in UL when the COVID situation quietens down a bit. Hope you’re keeping well.
Donna Parrish said:
Oh my. I am so glad you took the bull by the horns and got Padraig to Pforzheim. It’s a recurring theme, isn’t it? You telling the “caregivers” what care Padraig needs…
I’ve wrecked my head about this recurring theme, Donna, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the ‘caregivers’ have much less, if any, enthusiasm and commitment and ambition than us. I don’t think there are many who could see Pádraig walking. Him progressing is not part of the plan. I still remember, that the first question we were asked in the hospital in Dublin was which nursing home he was going to go to. Not where is would do his rehab. – The people in charge of those with severe brain injuries are so sad. Much more sad than the people they are supposed to look after. Pádraig has more stamina, perseverance and focus than any of them.
Thank God you got there safely, Rheinhard.
Great to see Padraig back in Pzorfeim and doing so well. Well done for getting there so quickly in these very challenging times for travel!
Continued success and progress with all the great treatment there👍
Very best wishes
The journey was surprisingly straight-forward, Raphael. We had cabins on all crossings, food for two days and the only stops were to buy petrol and show passports. We’re happy to be here but would be even happier if we had been able to help Pádraig without experiencing this road and sea trip, especially not now… – Thank you for your very supportive words. Hope you’ll keep up your great walks!