I did not expect my second blog to head off in this direction. Recent news events have deterred me from my clinical course. But stick with me as I provide a behind the scenes glimpse into the community of our clinic. This is a story of marathon runners, of injury and of inspiration.
As an Occupational Therapist and a Certified Hand Therapist, it is often my job to motivate and to educate. It is my goal to give those with an injury, illness or disability the support and knowledge they need to achieve their best recovery possible. The relationships that we develop with our clients may seem pretty cut and dried. We are the professionals offering a service; our clients receive the service; and insurance pays for the service (if we are lucky).
The amazing thing about my job, though, is that I don’t believe this therapeutic relationship to be a one-way street. Although the time we spend with our clients may be brief, we come into their lives in a time of pain, uncertainty and need. We may not become BFFs, go out to happy hour, or spend the day shopping (although these things have happened!), but for a short while, we share life events, concerns and dreams with those who we are treating. We can get to know each other well in our brief time together, and we, as therapists, are more inspired by and amazed with the people we are helping than they may ever know.
With the Boston Marathon bombings in the news yesterday, the clients and staff in the clinic huddled around a laptop computer in our gym to stay caught up with the latest information. The sense of shock, disbelief, anger, sadness and a myriad of other emotions was mitigated by the sense of togetherness and support as we shared this tragic moment in time. All of the staff in the clinic have at one time or another participated in a sponsored walk or run. We cringed when we imagined how the runners felt when the moment of joy and elation of crossing the finish line turned to such tragedy and mayhem.
And then I started to think back to how I, a non-athlete, became inspired to become a (slow) runner by three people who came in to my life about 3 years ago. These are the stories of two of the three, clients with whom I worked.
One was a beautiful young lady who, while qualifying to run the Boston Marathon, tripped after crossing the finish line and severely broke two fingers. Two surgeries and multiple sessions of therapy later, she has a fully functional hand. During our sessions together, we shared life dreams. In addition to qualifying for Boston, this intelligent, young lady wanted to find a nice guy, get married, and have children – but she was quite discouraged with her prospects. She has since visited the clinic several times to say thank you, not only for the therapy, but for encouraging her to hold on to the hope that the right guy was out there for her. Her last visit to the clinic was several months ago – when she brought in her bouncing baby boy for a visit!
Another client was a woman who ran “crazy races”, an ultra-marathoner who pushed herself to her limits physically. She had a severely fractured wrist from a fall and also required multiple surgeries and extensive therapy for her return to work as a massage therapist.
Both these women are physically fit and fast runners. And yet, there is no ego. Three years ago they encouraged me, a non-runner, to pick up my tennis shoes and go for a jog. They cheered me on as I slowly walked and jogged my way through my first miles. As we experienced yesterday with the publicity of the aftermath of the Boston tragedy, runners have a strong sense of community. It doesn’t matter if you are a Boston Qualifier, or, if like me, you cross the finish line at the back of the pack. Runners are a generous, supportive and caring group of people. I was proud yesterday to be a part of that community. I wore a running shirt today in support of Boston. And I thank my lucky stars that these two women came into my life, shared their hopes and their dreams with me, and inspired me to reach for more. I don’t think I’ve told them just how influential they have been in my life, and I’m not sure they would believe me if I did. So I have detoured off course to share how powerful the therapeutic relationship can be, not just to the one receiving therapy, but to the person providing therapy as well. So I want to take this moment to officially send thanks out to my many patients over the years who have enriched my life.
With gratitude, Marji