When I meet new people and they ask me to describe myself, I always say proudly, “First and foremost, I am an occupational therapist!” I love being an OT. I cannot see myself doing anything else in my life.
I became an OT because of my dad. He had a CVA [Cerebral Vascular Accident–Stroke]. He spent months in the hospital and then on to rehab. While in rehab, I made him a glove to keep his fingers mobile. The glove had velcro along the fingers. This velcro attached to a large dowel [like a 12′ piece of closet rod]. With his unaffected hand, he could grasp the dowel and roll it back and forth to help his hand open and close. While the movement in his hand never did come back, at least he maintained passive range of motion for self-care. That means that he was able wash his affected hand with his unaffected hand. As you OTs out there would surmise, he had a shoulder drop. Fortunately, he had no pain. While in rehab, someone saw the glove and asked me if I was an OT. No, I replied, “What is an OT?” And the career began.
As I watched him recover, he began to help himself do things with one hand. I thought that he was amazing. We would go out nights near Christmas and search for the latest Hess Trucks. I had to lift him into my car but it became our tradition.
My father was very proud of his country, he was a true American! On 9/11, he was devastated. We drove around looking for the supplies that the Red Cross said they needed. We filled up the back of my SUV and drove straight to our local Red Cross office. We eventually received a letter thanking us for our donation. He was so proud. He laminated the letter [he laminated everything!] and tacked it to the wall in his “office.” It wasn’t really an office but a place for him to hang out and do his thing. He passed in 2002 but watched me graduate from OT school and practice for a few years. As my father would always say, “It was fortuitous!”
As Father’s Day approaches, yet again, I think that I have been very lucky to have had him as my DAD! We all miss him terribly.