I have been in occupational therapy on and off for the past six years. For some people, this might sound like a life sentence. After six strokes, I was told I would be lucky to be able to swallow…or roll over in bed. I had to relearn how to take care of myself with only half of my body cooperating. Dragging a shirt up my dead arm and shoulder, and wiggling into it. I hated it and occupational therapy. I wanted my old body back. For a long time I made just as much effort as I needed to stay in the program. It wasn’t conscious, I just couldn’t believe in myself; but my therapist did. At my lowest point, my therapist told me straight out: if I wanted to get better, I had to do the work. Otherwise I was wasting both our time. I hated hearing it and resented her. But I have to admit, she was right. I started doing the work. And the little achievements, the ones I would have disdained before because they were not good enough or big enough, started to make a difference in my life. With that momentum, I was able to make bigger changes in my life, cutting down on the negative behaviors that were, literally, killing me. If my therapists hadn’t made a long-term investment in me I would not have made that investment in myself.
By: Darren’s story submitted by his OT Stephanie Hayes-Jackson, OTR/L