Sunday, August 6, 2017

Being an OT/OTA, OTAC Conference Experiences: By Susan Fisher McClure

I have been an occupational therapist for 50 years, graduated from SJSU in 1966 and completed my 9 months of clinical affiliations in March 1967. I have worked in many capacities over the years: state hospital; with psychiatric and developmentally disabled (DD) clients, outpatient and acute hospital setting, SNFs, home health, schools, and groups homes for DD clients and assisted living elderly clients. I obtained my post professional MS degree in my 60s. I also was a childbirth instructor and International Breastfeeding Consultant for 10 years. I have been through my own share of living with a short term disabilities: 2 hip and 1 knee replacements, and being my own OT. And in many situations I was able to communicate with my clients on a very personal level because I often knew, experientially, what they we're going through. Last October, I attended the OTAC's Spring Symposium March 4-5. I attended the Spring Symposium not realizing that several conference sessions I attended were going to come in quite handy: Living in Place and Fall Risk and Prevention. In February, I signed up to attend the 2 day training on April 12-13, to become a Certified Living in Place Professional, A course approved by AOTA. A week after the Spring Symposium, I went from walking to using a cane to requiring a walker and ended up in the hospital for 2 days. I had a barrage of radiology tests: MRI, CT scan and ultra sound and also experienced the medical people that I saw not taking the results seriously enough, thinking that pain medications would most likely take care of the problem. All the PT did was ask me to show him I could use a walker and get in and out of bed. And a PT I saw as a outpatient just gave me some exercises to do at home. But within a week after coming home I was worse than ever. So I enlisted help from my daughter who is a MD that did 3 years of a neurosurgery residency and then switched to radiology, Within 2 days I saw a neurosurgeon and am schedule to have a lumbar laminectomy in May or June (no set date yet). But now I have to really use my OT skills, spending hours, that I now have a lot of, finding my handy dressing stick and one set of reachers, reviewing 4 wheel walkers, stair lifts, bidets, obtaining 2 more reachers, chair seats that don't cause as much electrical spams in my back and upper leg. We purchased a decent bed (not a hospital one) for me to use downstairs for an indefinite time and I have a person that is moving things out of our upstairs master bedroom-bathroom area since a bathroom renovation was already scheduled in 2 weeks.I am then looking at a curb-less shower, plenty of grab bars, shower bench, raised toilet with the bidet, etc. and expect to learn more at the Living in Place class I am attending next week. So essentially I am delivering OT services to myself and the skills that I am also gaining will allow me to better serve clients in another capacity.

By: Susan Fisher McClure, MS, OTR/L

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