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Living Purposefully

A Day in the Life of a Rehab Tech

School is back in session, which recently prompted me to reflect back on the years I worked at a local elementary school. While I did enjoy my time there, I decided to expand my knowledge and look into something that has always interested me – pediatrics! Having a degree in early childhood education, 30+ years of experience working with young children, and several years in the health care field, I hoped that pursuing a job at a pediatric therapy center would suit me well. I am pleased to say that it has!  


In February of 2015, I become a rehab tech at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU’s Stafford Therapy Center. This job has given me an opportunity to use the array of skills I have acquired over the years.  I love the variety of tasks I am responsible for, and the fast-paced nature of my job keeps me on my toes. Each day at work feels like an adventure!  Maintaining a safe, clean, organized environment is the primary role I play.  I also order supplies for our center, create projects for the therapists, assist therapists with their patients and cover the front desk as needed. Helping with patient needs that arise, and aiding with therapy sessions is by far my favorite part of my job!  


While there are therapy facilities around the local area, what sets us apart from other sites, according to Alison Meletis, M.S. CCC-SLP, manager of Stafford Therapy Center, is that, “we offer speech, occupational, and physical therapy to children aged birth to 21 years of age, all under one roof. This allows for great collaboration amongst families and therapists to join forces to create the best treatment plans for our patients. Often times, therapy can be hard work for our patients and we find creative ways to make therapy enjoyable, motivating, rewarding, and successful!”


The rehab tech position I hold covers numerous aspects. I work hard to anticipate the needs of the patients and therapists. By gathering supplies and materials for therapy sessions, I help to keep our clinic running smoothly and efficiently. I am available to help transfer patients from their wheelchairs to therapy swings or other locations within our center, and then support them while the therapists facilitate the activities they have planned for their sessions. I love seeing the patients learn new skills while reaching the goals that are set for them. Not too long ago, a patient began walking for the first time in the gym where his physical therapy session took place. I cried along with the mother as she saw her son take his first steps! It was a moment I will always remember.


Kristen McBee, PT, DPT, shares that her focus during physical therapy sessions is to improve overall functional mobility and help each child rise to their individual potential. “By finding out the individual needs of the patients and families I work with, I provide tools necessary to meet those needs. It could be developing a new skill (sitting, crawling, standing or walking), providing equipment needs in the home (bath chairs, wheelchairs, gait trainers or walkers), or returning to sport after a concussion. My overall goal is to make the sessions fun, while teaching the kids and families how to promote development at home through enjoyable activities and exercises," she says. 


In my role as a tech, often I am asked to play board games, hold toy pieces to encourage the children to reach for them, and blow bubbles as a way to distract and/or engage the patients as they do the hard work of therapy.  My sensitivity and compassion are utilized as I hold conversations, laugh, and simply listen to children and parents talk about their lives. I instinctively comfort them when they are hurting or upset, as do the kind therapists that I work with.


I admire the knowledge that my coworkers have, and respect the level of care they provide to each patient they see.  Kelly Williams, M.S. CCC-SLP, says, “In addition to teaching children to verbally communicate, I also work with teaching alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) to children with motor and physical limitations which impede their ability to verbalize. Several of my patients use dynamic AAC devices, which are tablet based and have pictures that represent words. When the child presses the desired icon, the device verbalizes the word aloud. The largest benefit to this device is the decrease in frustration exhibited by nonverbal children; they can now effectively communicate with others throughout their environment." 


For each and every child and family that comes through our doors, my team and I strive to provide compassionate care to meet the needs they have.   When asked what one of the most rewarding parts of working with pediatric patients is, Samantha Parker, M.S., OTR/L, replied, “I love seeing how excited and proud the kids are of themselves when they learn a new skill during their occupational therapy sessions. When they fasten buttons or tie shoes on their own that very first time, their faces light up! I feel so lucky to get the chance to celebrate these successes with the kids and their families. Nothing else will put a smile on your face like dancing silly with a five year old!”  


It is such a blessing to work for an organization that is making such a positive impact in our community.  Our highly trained, loving staff creates a comfortable, healing experience as we treat the whole child and family, not just the illness or injury.  I am able to see how exceptional care is provided, and it is fabulous to be a part of such an amazing team!  I am glad I took a chance and stepped out in faith into a new career. I’ve gleaned so much from the families we serve and I appreciate all I’ve learned from the fantastic staff I currently work with. I look forward to all that is to come in the future! 
 

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It's Time For Some Action

Honestly, I’m tired. Flat out sick and tired of hearing that there has been another tragedy. There is a racial divide in our nation, and as a woman in a bi-racial marriage, raising three bi-racial children, I’m scared. I fear for the lives of my family and friends, and it isn’t a good feeling.


Do you have any idea what it feels like to have your son send you a text message saying he isn’t comfortable going to class? Not due to the fact that he isn’t prepared for the lesson or that the class is boring, but instead because a white supremacy group on campus posted on a message board that at 3:00 they are going to shoot every black student they come across on campus. Can you imagine the anxiety that is instilled by this blatant statement full of such rage and hatred?


There are days when I wonder if my sons are okay. I dread getting a call with news that one of them has been harmed or unjustly attacked. Even though they each are going to college, working hard, and trying to better themselves, I still have to ponder the thought that because they are bi-racial, they might be treated differently solely because of that. As their mother, this breaks my heart.


I hear discussions and read posts online from friends and family and I wonder: when did the people I know and care about develop such cruel and biased opinions? What gives a person the right to spew lies and spread such contempt for their fellow man based on only one thing – the color of their skin?? I think there has to be something I can do to bridge the gap between lies and truth; between fact and fiction. I want to be a peacemaker, and I want to go to sleep at night knowing that my family is safe, protected and able to live their lives freely and without fear of harm, ridicule or hatred due to the way they look to society.


The responsibility rests on all of us, whether we want it to or not. Even those who may feel detached from the actual events need to stand up for equality and justice. How is that accomplished?

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First off, we need to examine ourselves. Are we biased? Do we form opinions based on facts, or simply on rumors that we hear circulating? Possibly we fear the unknown…if we haven’t ever been in the situations we read and hear about, we cannot possibly relate to them, and therefore we choose to judge and condemn. Or worse yet, we decide to dismiss them as unimportant. I mean, it isn’t OUR family, OUR town so clearly it’s not OUR responsibility to do anything at all, right? WRONG. Just because these events aren’t directly related to you personally, they are indirectly affecting you and your life. And someday, when your son or daughter introduces you to their intended partner, who is black, or Latino, or bi-racial; or they choose to adopt across racial lines you may find yourself very, very affected. You never know what the future may hold…


We must realize and admit that there is a huge problem right now that needs our attention. One thing that helps me react with compassion and understanding when I hear of a tragedy is to imagine if the person involved was one of my family members or friends. How would I feel then? What would my response be? Would there be outrage, or just indifference?


Secondly, we need to have open and honest discussions within our families, circle of friends, and then in our communities. We must have the hard conversations, even when it makes us uncomfortable. My husband and I talk all the time about these issues. He makes a valid point whenever I say I understand how hard it is for him, and others of color, to feel welcomed and loved in the world. He then asks me “How can you possibly know what it’s like? You’re a white woman!”


You know what? He’s right! I don’t face the same prejudices that he, or our children, might encounter. I love him and my extended family, as well as my kids, their friends, and my friends of color, but I don’t really know how they feel inside. I can only empathize with them and do my best to be compassionate and loving as I seek to fathom how it might feel to be judged based on the mere pigment of my skin.


Conversing about racial tension, disrespect, guns, violence, misuse of power and authority, unwillingness to understand and show empathy, and the way folks are presented to others are just a few places we can start. Before we comment on Facebook, talk with another person, or tweet out our thoughts, we must consider whether what we are about to say will uplift, encourage and bring insight to the issue, or simply add to the division, separation and demoralization of others.


Think it doesn’t matter? Feel like you can say whatever you want because you have the right to free speech? You are entitled to your own opinion, but how will we ever overcome the obstacles we currently are stumbling and falling over if we keep alienating ourselves from the truth and all the real problems that are out there?


Finally, I truly believe that we must humble ourselves and take some time to reflect on our values and what beliefs we hold to be important. Are we causing someone else to feel less than we are due to their ethnicity or social status? As a Christian, I strive to live my life patterned after Christ. I seek to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God. I treat others, ALL others, with the same love that I receive from Him. We are all created in His image, so who am I to judge anyone based on their race?


There are definite misrepresentations happening in the news and media which simply fuel the fires that are already burning in our world. We are pointing fingers, blaming others and attaching stereotypical lies to events. We need to be strong in our efforts to include everyone in the blessings that are out there. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is for us all: man, woman, and child. All races and ethnicities are valuable. Whether you personally agree with that or not, it’s the truth.


I challenge us all to start today by having an honest conversation with your family, and close circle of friends. Examine your heart, seek first to understand, and then reach out to begin a cycle of peace and unity around you. Let’s make this world a better place, one step at a time. We all are empowered and able to do something.

 

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Stagnation

In June of 2001, I went through a daunting experience. I became a widow at the age of 33. At that time, I had 3 children aged 7 years, 5 years and 2 days old. My husband died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 37. This was completely shocking and life-altering. The face that it happened on the day I brought our third child home from the hospital was almost unheard of, and truly hard to accept. It was tragic, unbelievable and quite honestly the most difficult, heartbreaking situation I have ever experienced in my entire life.


Simply trying to live day to day and raise three children on my own occupied my mind and soul. I was devastated, to say the least, and am grateful beyond measure for God’s protection and for how He surrounded us with family, friends and community to help us through the grieving process. I kept a journal for a little over two years to help me process my thoughts and feelings after being hurled into the abyss that was widowhood. To this day, I still feel as though a part of me died along with my spouse. There is a piece missing in my heart that will not be filled with any worldly thing; just the memories of being deeply loved and cherished reside there.

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When you lose a loved one, you see the world a little differently and your heart is broken to pieces. Often, I didn’t think I would make it without my husband to help me along the way. I lost my purpose, as I was no longer part of a couple, but on my own to figure out how to manage life as a single mother. There were long days, and even longer, tear-filled nights, as I navigated this new place I was in. It was lonely, sad, and quite miserable at times.


Over the years, I learned to lean on others for support and guidance. I slowly began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thankful for those who saw a need and responded, I felt so cared for and loved. I was blessed with healing and comfort and soon learned how to live and love again. Finally, I began to make sense of such an absurd occurrence. During my healing process, I was led to write a memoir about my walk through this trying life event. The comfort I received from God now enables me to comfort others as they go through challenging and trying times. It was such a clear message to me to put into a story how one can and will make it through seemingly impossible life challenges.

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I was nearing the end of the process when I found myself stuck. Stagnating. Several circumstances contributed to this, so I stopped and set my project aside for a while. It has been calling my name lately, and when I saw an online webinar on writing and publishing a book, I knew it was time. I’ve taken the first steps towards revisiting this project and I am so excited! I am taking action to finally share my story with the world in hopes of reaching lives and encouraging others to be strong and have faith that they will indeed survive their stages of grief. Here’s to jumping in with both feet and making it happen! Time to finish what I started…

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Dad's Here!

My dad emailed me and my siblings a few months ago and said he would be traveling to Virginia from Texas at the end of May. He was hoping to see all of us, as it had been years since we have all able to get together to see him. I was thrilled, and put in for leave at work the following week to be sure I could spend time with him while he was here. I was hopeful that my 5 siblings would also be able to make it so we could enjoy some family time.

My oldest brother lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He and his wife were able to make the drive up to visit with my dad! It was nice that back at the end of March, I was able to visit him on a trip to the beach with my sister. You can read about it here: http://www.fredericksburgparent.net/blogs/more-blogs/living-purposefully/3662-myrtle-beach.
My other brother was able to fly up from Florida to join in the fun as well. My three sisters already live in VA, so they were able to participate too. What a blessing that we were all able to get together – it was such a meaningful reunion!

My dad and his wife wanted to visit DC to see several sites while they were in town. It worked out really well that a couple of my sisters and I were able to take them around the city to do some site seeing. One of my sisters bought hop-on hop-off bus passes that allowed us to tour the memorials and areas that my dad and his wife really wanted to visit.
I was thrilled to see them take in the sights and enjoy them so much.

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After we finished touring D.C., we met for dinner at Four Sisters Restaurant in Falls Church, VA. My dad treated us to a meal to celebrate his wife’s birthday. The food was amazing, and the conversation and laughs made for a wonderful night.

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The Saturday before my dad was scheduled to head back to Texas, we all gathered at one of my sister’s house for food, family time, games and laughter. This day was incredibly significant, as it gave all 6 siblings a chance to connect and spend some quality time with our dad. Several of my nieces and nephews also were there with their children, which added to the fun. It was truly a blessed day!  We really missed those who were unable to attend due to work schedules, or other events.
 

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Family is such an important part of my life. I cannot imagine who I would be if not for the love and support of each one of my relatives. They have always been there for me through good times and bad, and I know I can always count on them. I am so proud to be the baby sister in a loving, caring, unique, incredible family unit. I will cherish our daddy time forever, and thank God that He worked out all the details for everyone to be able to come together and spend such valuable time together.

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Fitness Quest

Recently I’ve noticed my body changing. Nothing too drastic, but I'm starting to feel frumpy and need to figure out how I can remedy this. First step: saving and pinning great exercise ideas and delicious, healthy meal suggestion posts online. Now maybe if I actually do some of them I’ll see some results! Haha. What a concept!


This year, I vowed to get organized with my meals and with a regular workout routine. I’m determined to make fitness and healthy eating a part of my life; a continuous, daily routine, never give up, part. For some reason, it is much easier said than done. I am good to go for a short period of time, and then I seem to fall back into my old habits. It goes a little something like this:


Week one: 3x per week - 30 minutes of cardio. Arm/leg work out with weights.
Egg white omelet with spinach. Green tea. Mixed greens salad with grilled chicken. Water. Broiled fish, steamed broccoli, water.

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Week two: 3x per week - 30 minutes of cardio. Squats, push-ups, planks.
Steel cut oats with fresh blueberries, green tea. Mixed greens salad with grilled chicken. Stir fry beef with bell peppers and onions. Water with lime.

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Week three: 4 sit-ups while watching Netflix. 12 jumping jacks. Every carb every created in the whole entire world…chocolate milk… handfuls of chocolate chips…four bowls of cereal before bed…a loaf of French bread with cheese spread on top of it…an entire stack of graham crackers in one sitting, and some nachos.

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Week four: Go back and begin at week one again…

Why do I fail? How is this so hard for me? I feel great when I exercise and I know it’s so beneficial for me, so how come I never keep it up? If I could just keep going I know it will do wonders for me! Understanding that it is all based on my mindset is the beginning of change.


I realized recently that I am pretty good at making excuses. “Well, I have to make dinner so I can’t work out yet.” Okay, but why don’t I go ahead and fit in some exercise after dinner? “I already ate a cookie today, so I might as well just forget trying to eat healthy for the rest of the day!” This is ridiculous and just an easy way to give up. “I’ve done well with my workouts for a week now…it won’t hurt to take one night off.” However, I get off track and let another day go by, then another…and the list goes on and on and on.


Success will be mine when I actively choose to make exercise and eating healthy my second nature. I need to decide daily to fit it in no matter what. Even if I do a shorter workout, or sneak in a treat here and there; I can’t and won’t give up! Who’s with me??
 

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About Tammy

tammy

I am a happily married mommy of three, who is living my life in hopes of making a positive difference in the world. I will share my ups and downs with you all to encourage and support you along your journey.  Live with purpose, and choose joy!

Pouches' Community Corner

St Baldrick’s Foundation began in 2000 over a simple idea – shave a colleague’s beautiful hair while also raising money for kids with cancer. And now this Foundation has funded over $200 million worth of research to cure pediatric
cancer. In 2015, the FDA approved a treatment that offers a higher chance of a cure for high-risk neuroblastoma patients because of that research.

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