I am fortunate and blessed to be a Physician, specializing in the field of Pediatric and Adult Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Working with children and adults who strive continuously to improve and move beyond their physical, cognitive and psychological challenges is a daily reminder that hope, determination and will continuously trumps defeat and negativity.
I treat patients with many different conditions, including those with neurologic, orthopedic and musculoskeletal issues. I see patients in the hospital, in subacute care facilities as well as in my office. Don’t know if my profession found me or I found my profession, but here is the background into how and why I chose to become a Rehabilitation Physician.
When I was nine years old, I went to my pediatrician for a regular check-up. Seemed like the usual type office visit as I remember my vision being tested, my eyes and ears checked out with a cool mini light, and the typical stick in the throat, say ahhhhh. But when the doctor listened to my heart, what had been a typical exam turned into anything but usual.
I don’t remember all of the specifics from that point on, but do remember the doctor telling me I could play out in the waiting room and that he needed to talk with my Mom, who at this point had a look I had never seen in her eyes before.
The next stop was the hospital where I was told I would come the next week for surgery. I hadn’t remembered being in a hospital before that time. At first I remembered the feeling of fear and concern, but upon hearing about all of the cool tools and instruments they had there, that the people who worked there would help to make people better and stronger, I was fascinated. And the fact that the hospital was always open for me was just too good to be true.
As it turns out I had a patent ductus, which literally means that I was born with a valve in my heart that remained open, rather than shut. The doctors needed to go in and close the opening. Sounded easy enough. Only that they would have to literally cut me open across my entire rib cage to get to my heart. And that they would also need to cut my leg open to place a tube for drainage … surely they had to be kidding.
Thankfully the surgery went well. The surgeons were able to go in and “fix” the problem I had lived nine years not knowing that I had. I remember vividly after the surgery not being able to walk well, hunching over literally guarding my left side in a cradled position. Not only was the recovery painful, but it was long and I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just hop of the table and go on with my life like before. After all, they went in, fixed the problem, so why couldn’t I just move on now? I remained in the hospital for three weeks where I worked to get stronger, going through what was then considered an extensive therapy plan.
The rehabilitation process was lengthy. I had to work at what had been so easy for me to do perform earlier. I have always been an athlete, enjoying virtually every sport known. Now after my surgery I was faced (at the ripe old age of nine) with this frustrating, depressing situation of not being able to function and perform at the level I was at prior to surgery.
The people at the hospital (physicians, nurses, therapists, etc.) were all wonderful. They were compassionate yet persistent, assisting in my recovery, empowering me to get better. I was always told I had great potential. I quite literally made a decision at that moment then that I was going to be a doctor. I would get to work with people, diagnose a medical condition or problem, and figure a way to get them better and stronger. My path was now forged.
As dramatic as that sounds, it really did happen that way. I did not know that my medical path would specifically guide me to become a rehabilitation physician who treats both adults and children. I have always loved working with children, but I have always enjoyed working with seniors as well. Becoming Board Certified in Pediatrics as well as Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation allows me to see patients of all ages (I literally treat patients ages birth to I think the oldest patient I ever treated was 103). One patient may be a newborn, and my next patient may be an octogenarian. I love meeting people, listening to what their medical issues are, and then figuring out how to get them to a better place.
I feel that I can relate to my patients based upon my own personal experience. Many patients I see after they have been injured or have had surgery. Some injuries come with repetition, while others come after an incident or specific trauma. I see exceptionally high numbers of sport injuries. You name the sport, I have seen an injury related to it. From concussions to traumatic brain injury, tears, sprains, strains to syndromes of all kinds, I treat patients with a wide variety of ailments.
The most gratifying part of what I do is talking, listening and learning from my patients. I learn from every patient I treat. I get to work with amazing people every day who inspire me. Some of my patients I may evaluate and treat only once, while others may come for treatment for years. I look through the lens of potential and how can I help someone reach their own potential.
My professional path was created early on in my life. I was blessed to have received the medical care, attention, treatment and hope that I received. I feel if I can pass those same gifts along to my patients I will have reached my own potential.