My evaluation would end up being with one of the most amazing and influential people still in my life today, Arturo. Immediately I knew I was in a place where people cared about me on a level that no other medical professional ever had and their ultimate goal was to get me back on the soccer field. Two times a week I would spend 2+ hours rehabbing my ankle and finally I was seeing changes in strength, mobility, and stability not only of my ankle but my body as a whole. The movements, stretches, exercises, and thought processes were unlike anything I had ever seen before but it was working. It was during this time frame that my idea of physical fitness, therapy, and movement as a whole was transformed into a new philosophy that was being studied by only a small portion of the world. Where did this concept begin you ask?…in a very small town in Michigan known as Adrian.
Now flashback to my childhood years. At a very young age I knew that the profession I chose would be a position where I could influence the lives of other’s. My dad was a Chiropractor and although I knew that was not the career for me, I saw the passion he had and the love he had for every person he came in contact with. He touched lives, as many as he possibly could, and he would continue to do that for the 20 years he practiced. He taught me what love was, what love is and how to show that love even when you feel as if your world is falling apart. He received that strength from his mother, my grandmother, who was one of the most amazing women I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I am truly lucky to call both of them family and I am a better human being for not only knowing the both of them but for being blessed to have them as part of my every day.
In January of 2009 I would begin working as a volunteer for Rehab United in order to complete my senior capstone project. I fell in love with everything about RU and everyone at RU had fully accepted me into their lives. I felt like I was apart of something so much bigger, something that was changing the lives of every person that walked through the door and making people better in more ways than one. It was how I had always witnessed my father care for people and I felt safe in a place that was driven by passion for people. I would later find out that my purpose for being at Rehab United was far beyond anything I could have ever imagined because that following December my dad would pass away from a heart attack and the following June my grandma would pass away from cancer. My two best friends had been ripped away from my life and I felt like I had nothing. I was lost, very lost, but I had reason to be or at least thats what everyone would tell me. I was sad and questioned whether I could continue to make it through each day. Some days I believe the only reason I did make it through was because of God and the hope that I had of one day feeling less heart ache and suffering. So, as most people do I kept moving along one step in front of the other and attempting to make sense of my world that had been flipped upside down.
At that point in my life I needed something to focus on because what do we do as humans when things aren’t going well, we find that one thing or a few things to take over our thoughts. You may call it running away but at the time the only thing that helps people move on is staying busy. Some people run to things such as; drugs, alcohol, exercise, people, or anything else that seems to make them feel even a little better at the time. For me, it was applied functional science. I chose to suffocate my thoughts into my job and to the people I came in contact with every day. I found this extreme passion for learning this concept that most people had no understanding of and all I wanted was to change the lives of the people walking through the doors of Rehab United. Each night I studied different cases and immersed myself into understanding the biomechanics of the body. I came to work every single day with at least one question and would not quit until I found the answer. I am sure the physical therapists at Rehab United got sick of me at times because I was constantly bothering them. I wanted their eyes, I wanted to see what they were seeing and understand how they could look at a person walking and break down every movement of their body in all three planes of motion. I found myself coming into work hours early for my shift for the sole purpose of being able to sit in on evaluations or even daily treatments without having to work as an aide. The minute I walked out of the building at the end of the day I was completely exhausted and emotionally drained. I spent my drives home crying with an overwhelming feeling of being alone. The worst feeling was walking out of those doors of RU knowing I would have to go home to an empty house without my dad there to ask about my day. Rehab United had become my safe haven, it was a place I could call home where I knew people loved me and supported me. I didn’t want to leave.
Rehab United and Applied Functional Science not only saved my life but it also opened my eyes to a completely different world. Suddenly I gained the ability to look at people and trust in a full recovery, a recovery that would get people back to not only daily function but to any and every goal they had for themselves. I witnessed lives being transformed through love and compassion. My compassion for the injured grew immensely and I began to see both psychological and physical aspects to pain, especially chronic pain. It was no longer about me and my struggles but how I could work on learning to leave my own life struggles at the door in order to fully care for those in need. Some days that wasn’t possible but the coworkers and patients that always had my back made sure that I made it through those days. It wasn’t easy by any means and it was probably more difficult on those people who were there day in and day out, who saw me at my worst and still loved me the same. Every single one of those people brought light into a world that was very dark and they are the people that I can’t even begin to thank enough.
I began writing this post on the plane coming home from Adrian, Michigan after attending my first GIFT gathering. For those who don’t know, GIFT is a 40 week online fellowship of Applied Functional Science that includes visiting Adrian three different times for in person lectures about the material. It’s pretty amazing to be in a room filled with over 100 people coming from all different backgrounds including 15 different countries to learn and grasp a concept that seems incredibly foreign to most of them. Some of those 100 people are wondering if they even believe it to be true, however as its performed right in front of their eyes you see the transformation take place in every single one of them. I have been a fortunate one who has been able to learn AFS the past 5 years from some incredibly knowledgeable people at my clinic, which meant very little was new or unknown to me. As usual, my mind was racing with a billion questions. I wanted to pick their brain and understand movements being demonstrated further than what was being discussed. I quickly realized that what I would get out of this course wouldn’t necessarily be the same as every other person sitting in that room. The challenge for me was and is going to be finding ways to use my knowledge to help others grasp a very difficult concept. More importantly what I learned this past weekend was that I must believe in myself and believe in the knowledge I have. In some weird way, Gary Gray allowed me the ability to finally realize that my vision of how the body moves is something special, that I am something special and that I will be given the opportunity to positively alter the lives of every single person that comes into my life. The friendships I will gain and the self belief I will continue to gain means so much more than any course content because it is those things that can change the world we live in.
I am still here today with a purpose of serving others and giving them hope when they struggle to find any on their own. I will have my bad days but I am so much further along then I was months after losing my father. I read something the other day that I had wrote three months after my dad passed that talked about how I couldn’t believe I made it three months without my father by my side. I remember those days. I remember wondering how I could go on, if I could go on, If I even wanted to go on and if I had a purpose to living with my dad no longer being there. As I look back now those words were coming from a heart that was so pain struck that I had lost all ability to see any sort of light. Those words are crazy to comprehend because there has never been a day that my dad is not with me. People wonder why I am the way that I am and it’s all because of my father. I guarantee that he is living through me in order to continue transforming peoples lives one at a time. It’s weird to acknowledge but I see more of his traits in me now that he is gone than I ever did before. He will always live through me and I know that even in my most difficult moments he will never let me give up because he knows how many people need to feel my love.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and thank you for caring so much about me. Thank you to those people who have never given up on me and have always supported every decision I have made. Remember to be grateful for what you have in your life and to never lose compassion for people. We all need to feel loved and if we can just show a little more love each day slowly this world will become a much brighter place. Believe in yourself and believe that you have the power to change others lives.