Tuesday, April 05, 2011

My Two Careers

After reading Betty Duffy's latest post, titled Changing my mind, I attempted twice to comment and relay my similar experiences. Both time they were "eaten" by Google, so I took that as a sign I should make my own experiences a post on my own blog, and leave poor Betty's blog to the hearty congratulations she deserves.

I was a physical therapist prior to my marriage, and worked during my first pregnancy, quitting the day before my eldest was born. I loved that profession. It fit me like a glove. I loved learning about the human body, watching it in motion, finding the dysfunction, and using my skills to help function return to normal, or at least to its maximum potential.

The profession was perfect for me because each patient was different, each diagnosis required solid scientific knowledge merged with creative energy to devise the treatment program perfectly suited for each individual patient.

The seriousness of my job did not escape me. I was dealing with the quality of people's lives, both in function and attempting to decrease pain and weakness. In some cases, my involvement with patients meant the difference between them regaining independence or not.

I loved the social interaction with the patients and other health care providers, and going to continuing education classes, writing new programs and marketing them to physicians in my area.

I loved motivating people to push themselves further than they thought they could go, and the thrill of accomplishment we would share with each mobility goal met. To see patients in the ICU, and begin passive range of motion, then move the the acute care floor, and start sitting up, standing with a walker, then moving to walking 10', the 20', then 100', then 300'. Then to see them as outpatients, working on higher level mobility and strength. PT's treat their patients, but they also sweat with them, cry with them, and rejoice with them. I couldn't think of a more fulfilling job for me.

As an ironic side note here, I used to work with quite a few elderly patients, and loved to listen to the stories of their lives. I was 22, 23 years old, but one tidbit I heard over and over from the venerable people I cared for was this: they wished they had had more children. I heard many versions of the same story. The things that arose in their life that made the idea of more children frightening had all resolved and were ancient history, but now they didn't have the family they might have. Over and over I heard that regret, that admonition of, "Don't be afraid". Never did I hear them say that they wished they would have had more money, travel, career. Never did I hear the regret that they had too many children. Only the lack of children came to their mind as they approached the end of their lives.

So, when I decided to marry and live my life open to the notion of having children, I knew I could not dedicate myself wholeheartedly to my job, and to motherhood. For me, one would suffer, and neither deserved anything less than my all. I was blessed to be marrying a man who was willing to shoulder the responsibility of financially supporting whatever family we ended up with, so my professional career came to an end.

Fast forward 8 years. I now had 5 children, and my husband was unexpectedly unemployed for quite a while. My license was inactive, but it would only take a letter to reactivate it. I had job offers coming to me for the last eight years, so I considered "doing my share", and getting a job. I began the process, and promptly found out I was pregnant once again. Thankfully, my husband's employment issues resolved, and that was that.

Fast forward again. Now I have seven children, but the youngest is 4. I could, in theory, get a job, and all my kids could be in school. It seems like my last chance, because if I get much older, the physical part of the job would be too much of a strain. So I contact the state, get the list of requirement to reactivate my license, and...

You guessed it. Pregnant again. At that time I was 42. And thrilled! For my regular 8 readers, you all remember my pregnancy with Melanie and the joy that accompanied it. It was a gift and a treasure to get to carry a life in me, and experience a newborn again, after being pretty certain I never would.

This time, since Melanie was born, the thought of going back to my profession hasn't really crossed my mind. I have had the experience, since finding out another baby is on the way, of longing for the affirmation my job gave me. I was talking with my mom, who is receiving PT now, and hearing about the owner of the clinic, who is my age with my professional background and interest, and the thought, "I could have been somebody" crossed my mind.

But reality corrects that notion, when I realize I have been Somebody to now NINE children, and a big SOMEBODY to my husband, and all the other people in my life. I am somebody, the somebody God apparently wanted me to be. My experience as a PT was awesome, and was not wasted. The knowledge and awe regarding the human body and it's formation has made my life richer nearly every day, and I have been able to care for those I love a little better because of this knowledge.

All in all, I am so very blessed to have been able to have such a satisfying education and career, followed by a very full and all encompassing life as wife and mother. I am truly blessed.


Blogger owenswain said...

Betty's post is great and it's such wonderful news. I was just dropping 'round to say God bless *you* for the kind of life decisions you folks have made when here you are writing about it :)

And yes, that story may come in handy for you :) glad you liked it.

April 05, 2011  
Blogger BettyDuffy said...

I really enjoyed this. Glad you turned it into a post. And congratulations to you too!

April 05, 2011  
Anonymous April said...

I know I have had many occasions to consult you for your "professional" opinion on various injuries to myself and my children. There are lots of physical therapists out there, but not many who are the mothers of 9 children. If you ever go back to "work", you'll have so much more to offer than if you hadn't been a mother for so many years!

April 05, 2011  
Blogger Perpetua Amatia said...

wow Renee great post. And incidentally so relevant to my life right now... :)

April 05, 2011  
Anonymous John Lankard said...

Renee - Speaking as someone who knew you when.... you're the ONLY person I know who "grew up" to be the person they said they wanted to be. At 20 and 21, you were talking about being a mom. And what a mom you've become. After meeting your wonderful kids last year, I'd say you've been SOMEBODY in a big way, and are helping your kids be SOMEBODY too.

Thanks for writing this.

April 05, 2011  
Blogger Renee said...

Thanks you guys for the really kind feedback. I treasure you all!

April 07, 2011  
Blogger Kim said...

Thanks so much for this post! It is just what I needed...I am 44, my husband has been unemployed for 8 mos, and my youngest-of-5 children just turned 3. I have been discerning whether to pursue going back to work, whether I'll ever have more babies, or just *what* is ahead in the great unknown. Perfect timing to read your post! Nice to "meet" you!

April 18, 2011  
Blogger Renee said...

Super nice to meet you, too, Kim. Sounds like we can relate, eh?

April 18, 2011  

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