A lesson from Residency

Every once  in a while I forget where I am. Every once in a while, I forget why I wanted to be here in the first place. Some days just blur together. Sometimes I see my patients as my work, and  I don’t even blink. Its just another day.

But its never just another day.

Its funny, and by no means coincidental, that I find myself in a rut of daily routine, and then out of nowhere something will snap me out of it and remind me just why I wanted to be doing this .

Today was one of those days.

In many ways, residency has taken over my life. I find myself more stressed, more fatigued, and less social than I ever was in PT school. There are many days I lose the joy of being able to help people to the demands of going through a program that sets high standards and expects a high level of skill. I often worry far more about myself than I do about my patients.

This last week so many things have been on my mind, and most of them have been about myself. Residency will be over in six months and my bosses, family members, and myself are all starting to ask too many questions. What are MY plans for next year? What job will I take? Where will I go? What can I get next? Life choices are coming up for me and I’ve spent so much time focusing on them lately, I’ve lost sight of why I am here.

5 years ago, I opened a phone book and called the very first physical therapy clinic listed: Agape Physical Therapy, in hopes of getting a job as an aide. I figured since “agape” means godly love, it would be a great place to start. Later that day I was at the clinic getting trained. NOT coincidence. 3 days later I watched a women take her first steps in over 3 years following a stroke, and decided right then and there that I wanted to do that for the rest of my life.  I worked at Agape for 2 years, under two of the most caring, compassionate and skilled therapists I’ve ever met. They gave me my first exposure to physical therapy. They inspired me to impact the lives of our patients. They encouraged me to apply for PT school, and supported me every step along the way. Today, on my lunch break, I received word that one of the therapist that guided and molded me so much had fallen very ill.

The news effected me greatly, and my afternoon was difficult to get through. God however, like He always does with his perfect timing, gave me a great reminder of why He has me here. I went to the waiting room this afternoon to get my patient, and nearly dropped to my knees when I saw him. You see, I’ve been seeing this patient for nearly 6 months now. He is a young kid (20 is a young kid ok) who had a bullet rip through his sciatic nerve, and leave him with the inability to walk without a brace on his paralyzed foot and a walker. When he first came to me he said the only thing he wanted was to be able to walk without a walker. He told me he was so embarrassed to walk down the street, being so young, and needing  walker. So we decided together that was the goal, to get rid of that walker and give him a chance at returning to his normal life. His mother, who comes with him to every appointment, him and myself have been working tremendously hard to make that happen for him.

6 months later, he stood up from his chair in the waiting room, no walker, and walked towards me with the biggest and best smile I’ve ever seen.

And my insides went to mush.

Indescribable.

And I thought back to 5 years ago, back at Agape physical therapy, and remembered why I was here.

To my fellow therapists, and friends that are just about to graduate and step into the field for the first time: may we never forget the opportunity we get each and every single day to impact the lives of those God has entrusted into our hands.

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
-Mother Theresa

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One response to “A lesson from Residency

  1. Wow. I know what he was feeling! And I’d just like to say how Awesome you are!

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