So in the latter half of this year of 2020, I’ve been getting some help to restore the balance between my physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual life. A key person that’s been helping me is an old acquaintance from 10+ years ago. He a practicing optometrist, seeking other career paths, and helping others develop life skills. We’ve been seeing each other as possible lucrative partners although we’re still in the “dating phase” with each other in this pursuit. However, as a healer, there’s an aspect that really bothers me about him. He behaves and talks like a robot, 24/7. In other words, he’s all technical and seriously lacking empathy.
In taking a lot of courses to improve my technical skills, I have picked up wisdom along the way because I had great mentors and instructors. A common theme of wisdom from the instructors has been about challenging myself to be the type of person that my patient needs me to be. I took this to mean using not only my logical and reasoning side (left side of my brain) but also the feeling and creative side (right side of my brain)… as well as my compassionate and intuitive side (my heart… and maybe even my gut, respectively).
For example, if I have a stroke patient who was referred to me for an orthopedic problem, such as low back pain. And my patient’s co-morbidity of function is due to postural impairments due to stroke, I need to push my knowledge of this patient’s stroke problem so that I can help my patient manage the low back problem long-term.
Taking this further, if I am working with an elderly female who lives alone, who’s widowed from her deceased husband, who watches the news all day about COVID-19, and then comes to the physical therapy clinic with precautions, I have to be a different physical therapist than working with a 6-year old boy who’s parents dump their son to me “to get fixed” rather than supervising their child from erring away from aggravating factors.
So to help a lot more people, I have to be a different physical therapist for each and every person that I have the pleasure of working together to solve his or her problem. My acquaintance was not this way.
So since we’re in this “dating phase” of being lucrative business partners, I brought this up to him because he came off direct without salutation with every communication. And he spat out a lot of facts with little empathy for learning style and little regard for my family obligations at the moment. In fact, it felt insensitive, poignant, robotic, intellectualized, cerebral, etc. Selfish, maybe…? You get the picture. He acknowledged my concerns by calling himself “Tron.” Did he disregard my concern? Perhaps.
Don’t get me wrong. He’s offered me an excellent product and changed my life thus far. As much as I believe in a higher being, I observed that his mindset gives him the POWER to attract… and then CHOOSE the clients that he wants to–and thus be able–to help. But I don’t think that he will be able to help as many people as he wants to be able to help. A community is made up of people, isn’t it? So is the world? And maybe he only wants to help those that he wants to help. But he didn’t have a niche. So I’d have to assume the former.
As a physical therapist working in the “barbershop of healthcare,” yes, the wisdom of–and even the risk of using–every ounce of my being for each and every person is intense and–frankly speaking–exhausting. The use of “everything” is controversial because many other healthcare providers will tell me to save myself, pace myself, and maybe even say, “Hey, Joel. It’s not worth it.” I know the truth is somewhere in between. This is because my body, mind, and soul are mortal. But I feel strongly that this intensity is the way to solving problems in discovering 2 or 3 dysfunctions that were once far apart but now close enough that we can now see the solution together.
This is how I can help you, the one who was once unable to be helped before. This is also the way to spoil my patients who have never had physical therapy before. Maybe make an excellent name for the physical therapy profession? I don’t want to lie to the healthcare consumer about the middle 50% of my profession. But for the ones that truly practice with love and joy, yes, I want to symbolize them to you.
Everyone is strong and everyone is vulnerable at the same time. We all have our choices and our vices. It’s a beautiful peace of art. We are all human after all.