So, why is this thesis worth it? Because its completion will nearly mark my entry into the professional world of physical therapy. I still have a lot to learn, but I've had a lot of great experiences lately that continually encourage me and affirm me that I have made the correct career decision. As therapists, we have one goal: to help people. The heal them. To rehabilitate them. To bring them back to a state some thought they'd never return to, or even achieve for the first time. To encourage. To coach. To inspire.
I plan on working in pediatrics, namely with children born with a disabilities, whether neurological or neuromuscular, or suffered brain injuries. A lot of people question me in this decision, asking whether the emotional burden will be too much to bear. Yes, I fear emotional attachment to my patients. I fear the inability to leave my work at home. But I'm willing to take the risk. These are the ones who need it the most. These kids come into this world a step behind and will spend their entire lives trying to keep pace. I can't imagine a greater reward than working with these kids and I can't wait.
So, what's been going on lately? Well, not much with pediatrics, but still, things that have affirmed me. I started working with a stroke patient a few weeks ago. Every Sunday, I go and hang out with Joan and Don and work with Joan on maintaining her mobility and physical abilities so that she doesn't lose her gains from therapy on the weekends. They're such a sweet couple, I sincerely enjoy spending time with them, and every week I leave their house happy and confident I'm in the right field. What a lesson in marriage, as well! Don is so helpful, patient, and involved in his wife's therapy. It's the epitome of "in sickness and in health." And Joan is such a fighter! She's been set back, but she knows exactly what she wants and what's going on.
I also had a great day in the clinic this week. Each Tuesday I spend time at a clinic out in Fairfax observing and helping out with patients as a part of my clinical rotations. Farouk, my CI, is a little wacky (he introduces himself the Egyptian Magician and is not afraid to be inappropriate), but an awesome manual therapist and I've learned a lot from him. With my orthopedics classes and my time in the clinic this semester, I'm finally starting to get the big picture. I was working with a patient with fibromyalgia this week and Farouk was teaching me a skin popping technique. I was up on the table, straddling this women, literally separating fascia from muscles using this technique. It was very cool and I really felt like a PT.
Extreme Homemakeover is something else that lets me know I'm in the right field almost every week. So many of the families featured on the show have fallen on hard times due to outstanding medical bills and costs due to having a child suffering from a severe congenital or acquired health condition. Last week, a little boy named Job was featured who was fighting leukemia. He was so adversely affected by his treatments and medications, his whole face and body were swollen up like balloons, but was such a sweet kid and such a fighter (And he had glasses. Yes, Beck, I think I do have a thing for kids with glasses...). Some of the Makeover team members visited Job's pediatric OT/PT clinic and visited with the other children receiving treatment. These kids were so sweet. They need a chance, they need help. They're so deserving. Of course I was crying the whole hour... I kept telling Tyler, "That's who I want to help. These are the kids who need help" through my tears. (He was like, Yes, I know...please stop crying...) A few weeks prior to Job's makeover, they featured family with two daughters confined to wheelchairs because of spinal muscular atrophy. More affirmation...
And as I mentioned a few weeks ago, I attended the VPTA annual conference at the beginning of October and I attended a session on pro bono opportunities available for PTs. I was so inspired. A panel of seven or eight therapists shared their experiences with different camps around the country, mission opportunities around the world, as well more reachable opportunities like the Arlington Free Clinic, which our program is involved with. Apparently my excitement is apparent enough for my husband to verbally express concern that I'm going to quit whatever job I get to solely do pro bono work. While it would be awesome, we'll be sitting on $80k from my student loans, so I'm pretty sure I'll need a paycheck.
Lastly, I may start working with a little five year old boy who suffered a traumatic brain injury as a toddler. I've been swapping calls with his mom, so nothing is set yet, but I would be beyond excited if I could get some pediatric experience under my belt.
So things are good! I'm affirmed, inspired, and ready to go change the world. :) These are the things I must remember while I'm researching the effects of voluntary wheel running and forced treadmill running on the muscular integrity of dystrophic mice...