I love stories, don’t you? I love that magical point when you cannot put down a book or when you realize you’re holding your breath at the edge of your seat ready to explode to aid the protagonist (main character) over the climactic struggle towards the end of the movie or book. Whether it’s the classic struggle between good vs. evil, the growth of a character through struggle and adversity, or the saying “goodbye” for the final time, we get to join a character in an adventure that is outside of our own.
Isn’t that the cool part about being a therapist? We get to step into someone else’s story. The main character has just suffered a setback, perhaps a stroke, suffered an injury, such as a broken hip, or is crumbling under the oppression of a disease like Parkinson’s. This is not the end of the story.
How will the main character respond? Will they overcome adversity or be swallowed up? It’s at this point that we, the therapists, enter into the story…their story. When things are the darkest, we come alongside to bolster and strengthen. We offer them our knowledge, experience, our friendship. We are their cheerleader, their advocate and coach to inspire hope for a brighter future. What a fantastic role we get to play!
You know…the amazing thing about life, about our stories, is that our patients enter into our stories as well. As much time as we spend and the nature of our jobs, our lives are definitely not compartmentalized but blended. By being a part of their stories, our patients teach us about life. The stories of each individual gives us glimpses, perspective and understanding. We see how a person can grow and change through struggles and adversity. We see them overcome obstacles and challenge the odds to keep pushing forward. We see the strength and the learning to say “goodbye” with all the love of the world that one final time. Through these lessons, our patients change us too. They make us think. They make us reflect. They make us better. That is one of the most amazing benefits that no one ever really talks about in our job.
Today, this day, what battles are you joining in? What new adventures are you embarking on as that wise guide to help the hero or heroine? What journey are you setting out upon knowing that you will be the strength for the main character to lean on when they are weary? Will you be that hand of comfort for those that will not take another step as their story concludes? There are so many stories out there being written. What role will you play? Be careful though! You will not close this chapter unchanged.
Aaron Brown, M.A., CCC-SLP is an Assistant Regional Director and Speech-Language Pathologist for Healthcare Therapy Services, Inc. in post-acute care facilities. He received his master’s degree from Indiana University in 2002. Aaron lives in Bloomington, IN with his wife and 3 children. He is very active with his church, Boy Scouts of America, and is on the Board of Directors for Cutter Soccer Club.