Monday, November 29, 2004

An Old Patient

It's been a lonmg weekend at work, with nurses and doctors and case managers and others demaning and being rude at me for no particular reason. I did try to BLOG yesterday but BLOGGER was down so I couldn't. I WAS going to vent my frustrations at my job, because it's been relatively stressful over the holiday weekend because we've been so short staffed BECAUSE it was a holiday weekend, but I got an e-mail today that reminded me once again why I love being a PT.

When I was a PT student, I did my final clinical rotation at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in NYC. I worked on the Spinal Cord Rehab Unit for 8 weeks. It was an AMAZING experience. Not many Physical Therapists get to work with Spinal Cord patients, and as a student, it was a priceless rotation to be on this unit at one of the top medical centers in the world.

I had one particular patient who started pretty much the same time I started. He got there I think 2 days before my first day. He had been in a car accident, and as a result he was a quadraplegic. He wasn't a "complete" quad, meaning his spinal cord was not totally severed and he had function below his injury. By the time my 8 weeks were don, he had progressed significantly, and was starting to walk with the help of a Lite-Gait, a machine to help support the body weight that he couldn't support himself.

He remained in Rehab after I finished my rotation, but he continued to do well. While I was there he was pretty much my own patient. I saw him primarily, sometimes with the help of my clinical instructor, but mostly alone, especially as we got closer to the end of my affil.

On my last day, my clinical instructor wasn't there, so I was treating on my own. My patient's power wheelchair had been reclaimed by the vendor for a few days because the vendor needed to show another client. So we put my patient temporarily in a manual wheelchair, which he hated. The leg-rests needed adjusting and I didn't have time to fix them to what he really needed so I did a quickie adjustment and said I'd finish at the end of the day. When I came into his room at the end of the day to fix his chair, he was on the phone. And he told the person that he had to go, because his therapist was there to fix his chair. And I was internally flabbergasted. I wasn't the student, I was his therapist. It was the last day of my last affil and this was the last thing I was doing before going home. And I was someone's therapist. I wasn't a student anymore. It was the first time I really felt like a true PT.

I lost track of him after I'd left, but I got an e-mail from him very recently, he's walking now with a cane and doing really well. Today he e-mailed me a picture and he looks AWESOME. I'm truly happy that he is doing so well.

I feel so proud that I started him on the road to his recovery, that I got him out of bed, that I started walking with him, that I was his therapist. These are the things that remind me that I love my job when it gets stressful. I love my patients. And they are the most important thing.

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