Wednesday, February 28, 2007

There and back again...

I'm waiting not-so-patiently for the acceptance/rejection letters to arrive at my doorstep. (But more importantly right now, I'm waiting not-so-patiently for my friend to get here so we can go out for sushi...)

So while I wait, I think that it's important for me to write about how I've come to the place I'm at now. And what better way to start than from the beginning... my birth. (Mini-autobiography ahead, you can stop reading now if you want, this could take a while.)

I was born Oct 22 (making me a libra and I fit every trait of it), 1984, in Mannheim, Germany. My dad was in the army, which meant that we up and moved every 3 years. We moved from Germany to Louisiana, to Pennsylvania, to Hawaii and finally to NJ. It was a hard thing as a kid to pack up and leave as soon as I felt comfortable, but it really helped me become more willing to try new things and it gave me so many life experiences. I still keep in touch with my best friend from Erie, and my best friend from Hawaii. I've found, however, as I get older, I really have a desire for consistency and comfort, if that makes sense. It took a lot of bravery for me to finally quit a job that was breaking me down, because I was so comfortable there.

As far as my family life- I was an only child for 14 years. I thought that I was perfectly happy that way, until my sister was born 8 years ago. My mom says she is exactly like me (whether that is good or bad, I'm not sure sometimes!) But to me, she is brilliant, funny and full of life. Maybe too much life... even dinnertime is a broadway production at our house. and yes, we have the same parents.. that's not something a lot of people can say! She is my little friend, comedian and personal chef, and I can only hope that as she grows older, she'll always trust me and come to me for anything.

Since first grade, I have been to 8 different schools. I always enjoyed going to school. I guess I was always a bit of a nerd, and school wasn't a chore for me. As a child, my ambition was to become an astronaut (I currently hate planes!), then it switched to a pharmacist, and finally an occupational therapist (which I feel surpasses an astronaut or pharmacist any day!).

When we moved to NJ, we were going to buy my great aunts house. When plans fell through with that, we ended up living with her for our first year and a half in NJ before building our own home. Aunt Jeanne became like a second mother to me. She was always there for me, she cheered me on at karate tournaments, she came to all my concerts and shows at school, and she would do anything for me or for my family, she's just that kind of person.

I remember sitting in my dorm one night when I received a call from my dad. He told me Aunt Jeanne was in the hospital and she was on life support and would probably not make it through the night. I remember feeling crushed and helpless. This can't happen to her, it's just not possible. Dad picked me up from Rutgers the following day and took me home to see her. I can't describe who I saw, but it just wasn't her. Weeks turned into months, and she only got worse. She was attached to a respirator and she had a feeding tube. I was losing my faith and was preparing for the worst at that point. She was in a coma for weeks, and in a way, I felt like I was in one too.

Some kind of miracle happened, though. Very slowly she seemed to come back... week by week they removed her machines... first the ventilator, then the feeding tube... she came alive again and it was incredible. She wasn't able to speak yet because of a tracheotomy and it was incredibly frustrating for her to communicate. She pulled through this, but her difficult journey had only begun.

She started rehab at HealthSouth.... which was the turning point of my life, as much as hers. This was the first time I had been exposed to occupational therapy. I remember meeting her OT, Stephanie, and all I can think was "where is she going to start?" (Speaking OT lingo here, she was definitely max A x 2!) Aunt Jeanne lived alone, she was independent, that's how she wanted it. She just came back from death, there's no way she can be alone again. Her physical therapist, Grania, got her back on her feet again and helped her regain her strength and mobility, and OT gave her back her life. She learned energy conservation techniques with assistive devices, she regained confidence in her ability to get around her home, bathroom, and kitchen. She learned medication management techniques, and she was given lots of adaptive equipment to make her recovery easier. Her OT also helped her regain the function of her hands, which were incredibly weak. Aunt Jeanne's biggest fear was that she would be unable to return home again, and OT helped her abolish that fear.

Aunt Jeanne is home now, watching soap operas and playing Slingo on the computer while her fat cat sits on her lap. She is driving and substitute nursing at the local elementary schools. She's active in the emergency management team in our community. And once again, she was there to cheer me on while I walked across the graduation stage to get my college diploma.

I never thought I'd find something in life that I would be so passionate about. Discovering OT has given my life a new meaning, and has given me such an appreciation for life and for people.

I'm so happy to be working at HealthSouth now, even if I am just a lowly technician for the time being. I learn something about OT and about myself each and every day, and that's all I could ask for. My co-workers have become my teachers, and a certain few are like big sisters that I've never had. I love to wake up in the morning and go to work because I know every day is going to bring something new to my life. I'm sure this all sounds sappy, but OT has really changed me in a lot of ways, and I'm becoming the person I want to be. I just hope that one day I can return the favor to someone, and have a positive impact on their life like they have on mine.

So that's Patti-in-a-nutshell.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Nothing in my way...

I survived my Kean and Stockton interviews. My biggest problem is that I get myself anxious over nothing. Both interviews went very well and I left both of them feeling calm and comfortable. In all honesty, I liked the Stockton interview better... I felt like they ran it more professionally. I went in and it was a group of 8 interviewees. Dr. Schindler gave a brief power point presentation about the program (Kean didn't do anything like this), and we were introduced to the faculty. We then divided into interview groups. I was interviewed by Diane Durham and Kim Furphy. They were both incredibly nice and made me feel so at ease. I had no problem answering the questions. I'll find out if I got into either school in a few weeks!!!

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Oh I have to write this so I'll remember.... This morning I received a picture text from some of the OTs I work with holding a "Good luck" sign. I thought that was the nicest thing ever. I am incredibly lucky to work with such supportive people, it makes a world of difference. I've never had this kind of support before and it's the best feeling ever. I hope I can repay them someday for everything.

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The best part about this pic are the 4 people in it... they are the best mentors ever.
Susan, Barb and Robin are the OT's who have really taken me under their wing, and Stephanie is the first OT I've ever met when my aunt was a patient at HealthSouth. The irony. :) I want to be like them when I'm a therapist. I appreciate so much the time they take to explain what/why they're doing certain exercises during therapy. Now that I know how much we students appreciate any advice we can get, I'll try to do the same for future OT's one day!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Carry me on my way...

I've reached another step toward my goal, and it's probably the most exciting and terrifying step so far!!! Interviews!

My first interview is tomorrow morning at Kean University. Up to this point I had decided that it's not my top choice but I feel like I'm not quite sure about that anymore. Stockton is my top choice, but I also just graduated from there. It might be a nice change to try a new school and see what else is out there. I'm sure the interviews will help me make a better decision, so we'll see what happens!

At this point, I just want to get in and get started. Either school is fine and both will lead me to my destination.... but each will bring it's own set of unique experiences, challenges and opportunties... and that will make all the difference. Or maybe i'm just too philosophical. Either way, I should be sleeping!