In the season of thankfulness and giving, I thought I would take a break from the pieces I typically write. I want to share with you why I am thankful for physical therapy and what physical therapy has given me. I don’t encourage patients to continue PT, schedule them multiple appointments, and use #ChoosePT on our social media pages just because it is my job. I believe in PT, I believe in our PTs, and I believe in the strength that we hold within our bodies and minds to recover and rebuild.
I have been an athlete my entire life. I grew up playing softball and basketball, competing and training in Tae Kwon Do, climbing trees, riding bikes, and hitting up skate parks. My active lifestyle and a bit of a reckless attitude resulted in many injuries over the years. My experience with physical therapy began at a fairly young age when I broke my ankle for the first time. Though I viewed my multiple appointments a week and long lists of exercises as a chore, I now recognize it as a privilege.
After breaking my ankle three times, surgery was my only option if I wanted to continue to play basketball. Only a sophomore in high school, my heart was broken realizing that the surgery would require at least 8 months recovery. I had big dreams for life after high school, won of which included playing basketball in college. I remember crying the second I got in the car after the cast was taken off my leg at my post op appointment, seeing the muscle atrophy and incision was a sobering moment for me.
Post op rehabilitation required visits three times a week to begin with. I was not a pleasant patient most of the time, the rough and tumble kid that I was did not enjoy being so limited in life. My PT, who is still a friend of mine, had the patience of a saint and worked tirelessly to help me recover and to break down the resistance and attitude I had. Throughout my recovery, my PT celebrated my victories, large and small, in the clinic and outside. My PT encouraged me as an athlete but also as a student and a young person navigating life.
The impact he had on my life far surpassed just rehabbing a busted ankle. After my first term in college I came home to visit family and I stopped by to visit my PT. I was able to share with him that I finished high school strong athletically and academically and that I had accepted scholarships to attend and play basketball for Northwest Christian University. Being able to thank the person that had a strong influence in helping me achieve my goals was so rewarding.
I was able to finish my freshman season injury free but unfortunately, I did not make it through off-season unscathed. I had a foot injury that went undiagnosed for six months, which took it’s toll on my body as doctors tried many different treatments to relieve pain in hopes of getting me back on the court.
While my injury was still undiagnosed, I decided to red shirt a year and I started my job at Therapeutic Associates. Shortly after my diagnosis I was able to start PT with therapists in the clinic I worked at. It was a slow recovery, easing back into activity has never been my style. I had more of an all-or-nothing mentality (something I am still trying to improve on).
Recovery was slowed down by a car accident and then getting rear ended again a few months later. Going from a college athlete to existing in a state where just sitting and walking to classes was painful was one of the most humbling experiences that I have gone through. If it wasn’t for the shared decision making and person-centered care that I received from the PTs I would not have had the mental strength to push through the year and a half of PT.
Our lives are our stories that are irrevocably influenced by so many people. I hope that these influences are a majority of positive and life-giving changes, realistically I know that they will not all be that way. I am fortunate to look back and see that some of these positive and life-giving influences were a part of my healthcare team. I know that not everyone has wonderful experiences with healthcare professionals. I have been there myself. If anything, I hope that my story encourages you to advocate for yourself and find the healthcare professionals that truly do care about you and give you a voice in your recovery. These are all values that we hold close to our hearts at Therapeutic Associates. I am thankful for this company, my clinics, and the PTs that work hard every day to connect with their patients and help them achieve their goals no matter the obstacles.
I did not return to the basketball team at NCU. By the time I was ready to return to running I had already made the decision to finish my degree early and did not want to drop off classes or quit my job in order to accommodate hours of training to get back into game shape. I started slowly, it has been a little over a year since I was given the OK to return to all my activities. I had to find a new patience with my body as I returned to activities, I was nowhere near as strong as I had been. In this year I have ran multiple 10k races, improving on my time at each race. I have climbed a few mountains and been on 20-mile hikes.
I am currently training for a half marathon and just started rock climbing. A year and a half ago I would have laughed if someone told me that my year would have included all these activities. We carry multitudes of strength, talent, skills, and determination within us. I firmly believe that. I also believe that we need others to coach and guide us through it, to help us find our strength and work for it. As I reflect on my life in this season of thankfulness, my physical therapists and the company that I work for are near the top of that list.