Health Masters PT February 2018

hen I was approaching the end of my studies at the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio, I had no idea where I wanted to go and begin my career in earnest. Luckily, I met a therapist at a program called W One Small Sacrifice and an Unpayable Debt HOW MY FATHER ENABLED ME TO START MY CLINIC

move out to San Diego, another opportunity arose in its place. One day, during a particularly deep conversation with my father, I brought up my frustrations with the local banks. You see, I was finally trying to open up my own physical therapy practice in El Paso, but I didn’t have enough money to get it off the ground. I’d gone to several banks, but nobody would loan me a cent. I wasn’t sure what my next step could possibly be if a PT clinic was so far out of reach. “Well, how much money do you need?” My father asked. I told him with a sigh, not thinking anything of it. After a minute, he turned and looked me straight in the eye. “I have savings. Let me cosign the loan for you.” His offer meant so much to me that it’s difficult to put it into words, even today. My father was by no means a wealthy man, but he’d worked hard his entire life for our family. I felt blessed and deeply honored that he was willing to put his savings on the line for a project he knew was incredibly important to me. I accepted his offer and thanked him profusely. From the very start, I took my new clinic seriously, especially with my father in mind. The idea of wasting my father’s good faith was utterly unconscionable to me, so every single decision I made, every exhausting seven-day week I worked, I did so that one day I might pay him back. In the end, the clinic succeeded, and I was able to pay my father back in full. Honestly, I’m just grateful we got to spend so much time together for the many years since I moved back to El Paso. Though he passed away a few years ago, I’ll never forget that he was the one to give my dream a shot, and that I have him to thank for all the abundance and purpose in my life.

“The Challenge of the Lumbar Spine.” He and I went on a couple runs together and got to talking. It turned out that he owned an orthopedic practice out in San Diego, one that offered rehabilitation not only to locals, but dozens of patients coming up fromMexico for surgery. When he discovered I was a fluent in Spanish, it piqued his interest. Though he was treating a large number of Spanish-speaking patients, his own skill with the language was marginal at best. And he knew my passion and training in the physical therapy field were both substantial. So, a few weeks after we met, he called me up and offered me a position at his clinic. Right away, I accepted. It was an incredible opportunity, and I had yet to determine the exact course my future would take — it was a no-brainer. I was excited for the opportunity, but during one of my last rotations at the hospital in which I’d been working, I received an urgent call. It was my mother, and she had bad news. My dad had been diagnosed with cancer. Though it wasn’t terminal, it was clear that it would be a big uphill battle for him to get well again, and the doctors weren’t sure whether he’d make it. At that point, I had one of the most important decisions of my life to make. Would I follow the course of my career and move out to San Diego, take on this promising opportunity I’d been offered? Or would I move back to El Paso, and spend what time I could with my father before he potentially passed away? I’m sure you can guess the choice I made. Though I agonized over it for days, worried that it might stunt my physical therapy career, I decided that connecting with my father was far more important than anything else could possibly be. I flew back into El Paso and began to spend as much time as possible with my dad.

–Louis Zuniga

Steadily, his condition improved, and he ended up living another 20 years thanks to the grace of God. It turned out that, in sacrificing the

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