The Great and Small Things I Learned in Physical Therapy School

I just made the title of this post and now I’m intimidated by it.

It’s a tall order to list all the great and small things I learned in all three years of physical therapy school, but I’ll try. It’ll be good.

(BTW, I’m a doctor now! I still need to take and pass my boards exam in July to be licensed, but I got the degree.)

This is my last “great and small things I’ve learned” post from my time at Boston University, and thinking about that just made my heart sink. Here are the ones I’ve written during my time in DPT school:

Let’s take a stab at reflecting on some of the great and small things I’ve learned throughout all of PT school, now that it’s over. I’m not going to look at any of my previous posts, so as to make this as candid and #raw as possible.

1) I am totally an external processor. Whether studying or figuring out the inner convoluted workings of my soul, talk talk talking is MAJOR KEY.

2) Starting a relationship while starting doctoral studies is challenging.

3) I truly had very little idea what was happening during my first semester of PT school. So much of what I thought I knew about physical therapy flew out the window, and I struggled greatly with the lack of context as I learned about so many different pathologies and interventions in a classroom setting. But it got better.

4) I learned how to embrace failure and let go of perfectionism.

5) It will always be worth it to reserve time and energy to pour into my faith and the community surrounding that faith.

6) That being said, I learned how to set boundaries between study time and my faith and social life. Not without a lot of struggle, strife, and sometimes hurt feelings, though.

7) I learned a lot about walking, and I can say with conviction that it is my favorite form of physical activity. It is one that I never want to take for granted.

8) Physical therapists help others to help themselves, and I love that about the profession. We want YOU to do the moving as much as possible, and we will help you get there.

9) My thoracic spine mobility is crap.

10) The answer to any of my personal problems is probably that I need to sleep and pray.

11) Having a diverse and loving group of friends in PT school is a blessing both in and out of the classroom.

12) In one instance, I cannot see myself doing anything but physical therapy. But in another instance, I can see myself doing something totally different.

13) Weaknesses really can become strengths, and often do.

14) I can spend a whole year with my friend, Janice, by my side and not get sick of her.

idk if it’s reciprocal though

15) The brain (and the whole central nervous system) is an absolute enigma and something that I wish to learn more about, regarding its relationship to and necessity for movement. Maybe one day I will pursue a neurological clinical specialty.

16) America runs on Dunkin’ and I still run on peanut butter and banana every day.

17) I have come to appreciate my family and my life situation more and more as time goes on.

18) Finding deep and abiding freedom, peace, and joy is of utmost importance to me, even if it hurts at first.

19) Many walls of pride have been burned down in different areas of my life, and that is exactly what I prayed would happen in January of 2017, well before PT school started. It has been a painful but very good process, and it never stops.

20) I think I’ve finally learned to try new things that are either neutral or good for me. Trying new things is not naturally my jam (see #16).

21) I can get close to running a half marathon if I don’t almost break my leg in the process.

22) I have learned how to have healthy confrontation and disagreement. I hate confrontation, but it can be extremely fruitful when done with respect, clarity, and charity.

23) It’s really nice to be in a class of people who want to help each other up the mountain.

24) Expect the unexpected.

25) Everyone always knows more than I do. I don’t mean that in a self-deprecating way, but in an honest way. There will always be something someone else knows that I do not know. There will always be something that I can learn from any given person, whether that’s intellectually, academically, spiritually, emotionally, experientially, or physically.

our first Christmas / holiday season together as a PT cohort πŸ™‚

25 is enough. It’s late now and, like I said, the answer is sleep and prayer. The true list of great and small things I’ve learned is inexhaustible, because the fruits of my experience in DPT school will continue to appear throughout my life.

There is nothing but gratitude and joy looking back at these last three years. Good grief is an appropriate phrase to describe it.

Thank you to all who made this possible, and thank YOU for reading along throughout this journey. I appreciate you.

I love Boston.

It’s too early in the week to be this emotional!

Essential physical therapists. Last night, my latest clinical instructor sent me photos of herself and other PTs decked out in PPE (personal protective equipment) up the wazoo. She and several other PTs have been working at the Boston Hope Medical Center, a field hospital at the Boston Convention and Events Center that is running solely for the treatment of patients suffering from COVID-19. She updated me on how life has been working in a field hospital, which she says has been “amazing and interesting,” but she also hopes that it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

MDs, nurses, PTs, OTs, RNs, SLPs, military personnel, and so many other health professionals are all working together day in and day out, which we all already knew, but I feel a renewed and deepened sense of pride in the profession of physical therapy, which yes, is an essential service for people with acute respiratory illness.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Marathon Monday in solidarity. Yesterday was Patriots’ Day in Boston, which is always the day of the Boston Marathon. The marathon has been postponed to September for obvious reasons, but Boston finds a way to grow stronger through this iconic event, even during a pandemic. For one, my BU PT classmates (all scattered across the country now) posted photos and routes of their short or long runs on a shared google drive, so that we could support and inspire one another in light of the circumstances.

I am blessed to live near downtown Boston, so I ran 2.62 miles there (total coincidence that it was exactly 1/10 of a full marathon) to the finish line on Boylston Street and then back home.

Some people were at the finish line waiting for their loved ones to finish the marathon, which several people unofficially ran yesterday anyway. What spirit!

Side note: I did not love running with mask. I would take it off when there was not a person in sight, but would put it back on when I approached people. Just a little extra cardiorespiratory challenge, but I suppose I can suck it up (literally) and offer it up for those with COVID-19.

Moves.

Saturday – Yoga video and walking.

Sunday – 100 burpees throughout the day + this fun workout (that included some of said burpees) with my kettlebell:

  • Squat clean and press (both hands on the KB) (3×12)
  • 10 burpees
  • Mini modified pull ups using the footboard of my bed (3×10)*
  • 10 burpees
  • Single arm KB cleans (3×10 each arm)
  • 10 burpees
  • Double KB swings (3×10)
  • 10 burpees
  • Asymmetric squat creeps (the last exercise in this link except with only one KB) (3×14 total, switch arms halfway)
  • 10 burpees

*I made this exercise up in an effort to mimic some sort of pulling motion. I might post it on my instagram story later. It looks silly, but it worked my lats. Β―\_(ツ)_/Β―

Monday – 5.2 mile run

Gosh, I love Boston so much. I’m not leaving until July, but my heart is already breaking a teeny tiny bit.

It’s funny. I remember a very distinct moment in high school when my parents and I were visiting my brother (who went to Northeastern University) in Boston. We were driving behind Boston University’s campus on Storrow Drive. I looked out the window and thought, “Eh, I think I could do without a city like Boston.” Literal FOOL, Alison. I love being proved wrong by God in the best way possible.

I hope you are all having an excellent week so far.

So tell me:

Do you have a city that just steals your heart for one reason or another?

Any inspiring COVID-19 stories you’d like to share?

If you’ve been exercising recently, what have you been doing?

Virtual Breakfast Date

Never in Daily Moves and Grooves history has a virtual breakfast date been so apropos! I hope you and yours are still holding up well.

I forgot to take a photo of my breakfast, but it wasn’t that exciting anyway (Greek yogurt with banana, cinnamon, chia seeds, and pb + a side of almonds and pistachios). Here’s a prettier breakfast from the past!

…I would tell you that my quarantine life has been rather peaceful and fruitful. I am fully aware that it is the complete opposite for so many people right now β€” death, suffering, exhaustion, instability, fear, heartache. Those realities hit me, too, don’t get me wrong. But I am also extremely grateful that these past couple weeks have given me a time to grow more deeply in prayer and {socially distanced} communication with so many friends.

My current day-to-day involves some studying for the PT boards exam (that isn’t until July 28, so studying in small doses for now), job applications, a phone call (or two or three) with friends, long walks, some moves and grooves, and a lot of prayer.

I was talking to my friend Emma yesterday, telling her how this time has been so peaceful and fruitful, despite the vast unknown ahead. We discussed that oftentimes, God strengthens people with periods of consolation and peace for more trying times ahead.

That thought scares me a bit, but whatever He’s got in store for the rest of the year, I know He will help me through it. This time to reflect on His Goodness and Truth, I’m sure, is part of that help.

…I would tell you that my time in Boston is coming to an end soon. I have decided to move back home to New York after 6 incredible years in Boston. I don’t have a job set in NY just yet, but either way, my plan is to move back in with my very gracious (and excited) parents to save some money for the next year or so as I finally make a salary after being in school for so long. From there, if my heart still longs for Boston, I can move back and become more settled (just with a little more financial stability).

The fact that I don’t get a graduation ceremony next month makes me sad for 0.0000001 seconds and then I’m over it. But man, will I miss my dear friends here, who have truly become my family. I was walking through the very empty Boston University campus yesterday, and my emotions went from 0 to 100 real quick. I don’t love BU for BU, but for how it brought so many different people to one place for a multitude of different reasons. And now those people have built a solid foundation of faithful friendship that continues to grow and flourish, and for that I am (literally) eternally grateful.

…I would tell you that you are so loved.

…I would thank you for coming to my emotional virtual breakfast date.

…I would complain about how my breakfast is now salty from my tears.

…I would ask you:

How is your quarantine life?

What did you eat for breakfast?

What are some recent reflections you have on your current situation / the world’s situation?

What are your thoughts on the unknown future ahead of us?

A random sick day vlog.

Boston University has officially made all learning remote for the rest of the semester.

The poor undergraduates who live on campus have been advised to stay home…but are also being asked to move out within 5 days. Good grief.

Yesterday I decided to film a random sick day vlog, mostly because I had very few important things to do.

Enjoy, if you so choose to watch!

The Blonde Ponytail 100s Challenge

Irish Apple Cake

So tell me:

What kind of activity do you like to do when you don’t really feel like working out?

What is your go-to food to use up a lot of milk / eggs?

What did you do yesterday?

Do you have your life together? I don’t.

Let’s stop talking about me; let’s talk about You, God.

I had a sick day yesterday that didn’t feel like a sick day, but I guess an abnormal day just feels normal at this moment.

I stayed home from clinical yesterday (and also today), because I must be without my sore throat and cough symptoms for at least 24 hours before returning to work. I was anticipating at least one sick day, and yes, I have symptoms, but I also feel 100% functional.

It’s the “abundance of caution” that is keeping me from work, which I totally get. But I don’t think these particular symptoms I’m having right now have ever kept me home from anything before. Hence a “sick day that doesn’t feel like a sick day.” Gotta do what ya gotta do though.

Additionally, our fridge/freezer stopped working yesterday.

What turned that around was the excuse to bake cornbread to use up some of the whole milk I bought this weekend. πŸ™‚ Also, the fact that yesterday was a particularly cold day, so my roommates and I were able to keep our food outside on the porch to prevent spoilage.

Moves: this ab workout + this at-home HIIT workout from Natacha Oceane. I’m not usually a huge fan of just any fitness guru who puts out social media content, but Natacha was formerly a PhD student and chose to do YouTube instead. However, she still brings evidence to practice and makes the evidence very accessible and digestible, and I can get behind that.

Opportunities. Having a sick day and having more time to myself (#selfisolation) presents more opportunities to do things for which I’ve lost habit.

Exhibit A: FaceTiming my PT friend who had her clinical in Utah (hi, Elayne!)

Exhibit B: Prayer for 20+ minutes at a time. I went on a long solo walk to get some fresh air into these lungs, and just talked with God. I literally told Him, “I’m tired of talking about myself and asking what Your plan is for me. I want to know more about You… What was it like for Your people to turn against You and want to throw You headlong off a cliff?” (as that was the event of yesterday’s Gospel reading).

And that was the most fruitful prayer in a long time. It was a wonderful thing to focus on God for who He is and not myself in this time of chaos.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Say a prayer, wear green and eat something Irish. And don’t pinch anyone for not wearing green! Not because of coronavirus, but because that’s rude.

So tell me:

How are you finding “normal” in the abnormal of life right now?

What are some opportunities you are finding with the social distancing?