A Happy Ending

Makanakah, while playing with the other children at home, fell into an oval bath tub with boiling water. She sustained 80% hot water burns across her tiny body. After numerous skin transplants and weeks in Red Cross Children’s Hospital, Makanaka was transferred to St. Joseph’s in July 2015. At the time she had developed severe contractures at her shoulder, elbows, hands, hips and knees. She also had significant scarring on her face and body. She arrived bandaged and a little afraid of anyone in a uniform.

The physiotherapist that treated her remembers at the beginning how Makanaka would pretend she was sleeping, when she was collected for therapy. Stretching is usually painful, but is much needed to preserve function. She used to only allow scar massage and as soon as she was expected to do anything functional, she would scream and cry without end. She was unable to dress herself, do up buttons and zips and turn open door handles and taps. She struggled to hold a spoon and feed herself and needed to be fed. She struggled to hold a pen and activities requiring the use of both hands (e.g. cutting with scissors) were extremely difficult. She also struggled with socialisation due to the physical and psychological scars.

One day, they tried their luck and incorporated stamps into therapy. She loved the stamps and forgot that she was supposed to be sleeping and started playing with the different colour stamps. She has progressed so well that she is now able to dress herself, tie shoelaces and do up buckles! She has been attending school and her handwriting and cutting skills have improved significantly.

After about a year and a half of receiving Physiotherapy, Makanaka improved so much that she was discharged from St. Joseph’s. Up until this day, she still asks to come to therapy, even though she knows that she does not need it anymore.