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The Endless Resolve of My Patients
HOW ONE LITTLE GIRL MADE MY ENTIRE CAREER WORTH IT
O ne of the great things about physical therapy compared to other medical professions is the opportunity we get as PTs to learn each patient’s story. Instead of meeting once a year for 15 minutes, we work intimately with each individual over weeks and sometimes even months, guiding them day by day as they realize their goals. As a result, I get to meet a ton of fascinating, inspiring people, and I get the chance to learn a lot about them. There’s one patient from more than 10 years ago, though, whose story will stick with me forever. She was a little girl, only 5 years old, in need of therapy to strengthen her muscles and get back her normal life. When I worked with her in 2006, she’d recently recovered from a brutal bout with leukemia, a tragic disease that, miraculously, she’d beaten. Every part of her body had been ravaged by the cancer, and while she survived, she was in rough shape. Over the next several months, my team and I guided her through a number of light exercises, doing everything we could to get her back to baseline. It was incredible to see her fighting spirit, the way she threw herself fully into whatever task we gave her. Over time, her awesome effort paid off. By the end of her treatment, she could move around and do things that every little girl should be able to do. Like always, it was difficult to say goodbye to this kid that had come into the clinic every week for months, but I was proud to have been a part of her recovery.
her terrible disease and had gone on to have the normal life that every child deserves.
A few more years passed, and I didn’t see her for a long time. But one day, when I was helping out at a local country club, I walked by the pool and saw a familiar face splashing enthusiastically in the shallow end. It was the girl, swimming and playing with her sister! It’s one thing to see a patient in the office each week, helping them out and watching their steady progress, but it’s another thing entirely to see them in their own environment, doing what they love. Seeing this young girl doing everyday things was one of the most moving moments of my career. Physical therapy has long been my passion, but every once in awhile, there’s a person who really opens my eyes to how privileged I am to be able to make a tangible difference in my patients’ lives. Maybe it’s an elderly lady who tells me the treatment has enabled her to pick up her baby granddaughter for the first time, or a man who came in hunched over and walked out for the last time standing up straight with no limp. Or maybe it’s a girl playing in the pool just like the other kids despite her past illness. Regardless of how it happens, these vital moments remind me that physical therapy is more than just a career. It’s a means to a real and meaningful end.
Years later, she stopped by Focus Physical Therapy to say hi. At first, I didn’t recognize her. Now, instead of a wig, she had a full head of hair, with a tall, strong body that didn’t look sickly in the slightest. By all indications, she’d completely conquered
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Focus Physical Therapy • Call 949.709.8770 • 1 -Julian Manrique
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