What I Learned From My Patient Today

Words from an 18 year-old, wise beyond his years…


Knee surgery as a young adult can be a heavy burden…and the mental struggle often outweighs the physical.  In Tom’s case, he has a beautiful outlook on life, despite the long road ahead before he will return to his life passions of surfing and snowboarding.  We have worked together other for six sessions now, and he always impresses me with his perspective on life.  I felt compelled to share some of his insights from today…

“You don’t really know what someone has been through unless you’ve walked in their shoes,” he says.  Tom goes on to tell me how he feels people are “judgmental” in college, and he really tries not to judge others or push others into believing what he believes because “everyone has their own beliefs and it doesn’t matter.”  Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone saw it that way?

“I tell my mom everything,” he admits,  “she has experienced it all…and she gives the best advice.”  Tom tells me how he talks to his mom about girls and other problems, and how she’s always right.  “I haven’t experienced life yet like she has, so I’d be dumb not to listen to her.”  He describes his mom as being “so realistic, and so real.”

He pauses, shakes his head, and glances away.  I can see the genuine love and appreciation for his mom, and for the parenting that he has had.  “My family butts heads once in a while…well, not even butts heads, really.  But we get over everything so quickly because we are so tight.  When you are really close, I think that helps you get over things and move on more quickly.”

As the conversation goes on, we are working hard to improve his knee range of motion.  In our last session, I had to instill a bit of fear into him as motivation to work more diligently on his own, in between our sessions.  It worked.  Tom tells me today that, for the last couple of days, he has been doing what he is supposed to do.  The numbers support his story and prove that he has been doing his exercises at home.  I took a measurement…we surpassed our goal!  I took a step back, smiled, motioned a fist-pump followed by a few firm claps, and said, “Yes! You made my day!  THAT’s what I like to see!”  He grinned, pushed a little harder, and replied, “That, right there, what you just did, is so motivating!”  We gave each other a high-five and went back to work.

“I didn’t want to waste my parents’ money,” he explained.  “They are paying for this physical therapy and I wasn’t doing anything on my own. I knew I had to start helping out to heal more quickly.  I can’t just sit back and do nothing or I’m not going to get anywhere.”  As soon as he came to this decision on his own, he started making strides in his rehab.  He is moving with more confidence and pride…and I believe that he will continue to progress in the right direction from this point forward.

Regretfully, I will not get to continue working with Tom as he is moving back home tomorrow.  I truly enjoyed getting to know him as a sincere, insightful, and kind young adult, who has a bright future ahead of him.  His respect for relationships, love for his family, and perspective on life were delightfully inspiring.

Best of luck to you, Tom!


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