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2 PT VAGABONDS IN LOVE WHY MY WIFE AND I DECIDED TO BECOME TRAVELING PTS
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I couldn’t resist dedicating this issue to my wonderful wife, Melanie. Since we first started dating back in 2000 (writing that is crazy — I can’t believe it’s been 20 years), Mel has been my rock and my partner in everything from physical therapy to the adventures of parenthood. Mel strikes most people as shy at first, but underneath that, she’s independent and tough as nails, and I love that about her. I got a taste of it on the very day we met. It was 1999, and we were both freshmen just starting our journeys through PT school. We had a pre-calc class together, and because the class was covering a lot of the same material I’d had in high school, I spent our first lesson chatting with a friend instead of listening to the professor. That didn’t last long because pretty soon, this beautiful girl (Mel!)
turned around and told me to shut up so that she could hear the lesson. I did, and as they say, the rest is history! Actually, I didn’t ask her out for another year, and I like to tease her by saying that our first encounter was probably why. Still, I couldn’t stay away forever, and I’m so glad I didn’t. We made it through undergrad and grad school together, had a big family wedding in 2006 and bought a house. At that point, I figured we'd gone the full nine yards: We were married, had good jobs, and had a great home, so I assumed it was time to start having kids. Mel saw things differently. She said we were still really young (she was 24, and I was 25) and there was plenty of time to have more adventures before settling down. I’m always up for an adventure, so we packed up the house; loaded our stuff, cat, and dog into two cars; and drove off to Arizona to start a year working as traveling physical therapists. In retrospect, I think spending those months crisscrossing Arizona, Washington, and California and pitching in at clinics along the way was the best thing we could have done. It was a phenomenal experience. We got to do and see a lot, and we met some fun people along the way! The company we contracted for took care of our housing in each city, leaving us free to work hard during the day and explore on nights and weekends. Each contract
was 13 weeks with an optional extension, and between each one, we took time off for ourselves. We went sightseeing, took a cruise to Alaska, and even did a week-long road trip from Seattle to San Francisco. It was a blast, and the day- to-day work in different clinics taught me a lot about the kind of physical therapist and boss I wanted to be when I was running my own office. Valuable skills like thinking on my feet, problem- solving, and making tough decisions started to come naturally, too. We ended our vagabond lifestyle when, during our last week of a contract in San Francisco, Mel called me to tell me that she was pregnant. We were both thrilled, and it was only a little bittersweet to leave life on the road and head back to our house in Avon, where we’ve lived happily since. These days, Mel works in a nursing facility while I run the two Advanced Physical Therapy offices. I’m amazed every day by how well she pulls off being a top-notch PT and mom and still finds time to be endlessly supportive of my career. It would be a heck of a lot harder to do the work I love so much without her. Mel, I couldn’t be a luckier man. Happy Valentine’s Day!
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