Treating the Practitioner

Heinrich Grimsehl
By Heinrich Grimsehl
3 Min Read
The welcoming home of Mrs de Villiers in Botswana. Picture supplied by Heinrich Grimsehl.

It’s a valuable exercise to take time out from our busy schedules to appreciate what is really important

Prosthetists in South Africa manufacture prostheses as well as orthoses. An orthosis supports or protects a structure, for example a drop-foot splint that keeps a dropped foot at a 90-degree angle so that the foot does not drag on the floor and trip the patient while they are walking.

To make a long story short, I have a senior patient with a drop foot, a Mrs de Villiers, who lives in Botswana. Knowing that I regularly visit Gaborone she invited us to come and stay at her house and because it was just around the corner from where we were working, we accepted.

After a hectic day at the clinic we arrived at her house to be greeted with a Botswana fillet, a bowl of potato salad and local beer. This is where our treatment started. The atmosphere was peaceful, the conversation interesting and light-hearted. Although the house is situated next door to the President’s, it is simple and non -pretentious with broekie-lace awnings over the veranda. Our host had a bit of a chuckle, recounting the time when a director of a retail store offered her more for the house than most of us will see in a lifetime, but she refused to sell because she feels comfortable, content and happy in that house.

Strolling through the rooms and passages I was mesmerised by the lifetime of memories hanging from the walls – and found that they somehow put my own life and mortality into perspective.

Pointing the nose of my car towards South Africa the next day, I had five hours to contemplate how ridiculously shallow much of society has become. We worry about the type of tile on our floors, the SUV in our driveway, the label on our clothes, and we compare ourselves, constantly, to others. We are chasing some form of superiority, and we desire to control outcomes and others – and worst of all, we are teaching this behaviour to the next generation (and we wonder why the Springboks lose).

But if we are blessed, we are momentarily called to a halt – like in the little house in Botswana – and given the time to evaluate and rediscover what is important in life … without interference from Dr. Google!

Heinrich Grimsehl is a prosthetist in private practice and a member of the South African Orthotic and Prosthetic Association (SAOPA). email:

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Heinrich Grimsehl
By Heinrich Grimsehl Prosthetist
Heinrich Grimsehl is a prosthetist in private practice and a member of the South African Orthotic and Prosthetic Association (SAOPA).
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