I’m going to change A world.

Photo of G, Face askew to protect his identity. Used with permission.

**** Disclaimer: I’m a podcaster, not a writer.  My fingers don’t move fast enough for my thoughts. So you need to read my posts, like they would ramble out of my mouth.  Also, I’m crappy at grammar and spelling. ****

“I’m going to change the world.”

It’s a bold statement and one that I’ve been rolling around in my head lately.  What I’ve come up with is, it’s more plausible than you think, if you look at if from a certain angle.

Now, me, little Jimmy McKay, PT student, Podcaster, sub-par blogger… will I change the ENTIRE WORLD!?  My mom is probably the only person who thinks I might pull that off.  I mean, the whole world? Changed by me?  In history there have arguably only been a handful of people who have actually changed the world.

But, follow me here.  I don’t want to change THE world, I want to change A world.

I’m using a change in perspective to put things… into, perspective.

I returned from a service learning project where I spent two weeks in Costa Rica working with a variety of patient populations, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, Hydrocephalus, Pediatric Developmental Delays, Congenital Neurological Defects.  Bottom line, we saw a lot.  It was an amazing experience, one that I have never had and might never will again.

I graduate from PT school this summer… and I’ve been struggling with “Do I even want to be a PT?”, “Will I be good at this at all?” and “Is this the right field for me?”  This is the first time I’ve publicly made those statements known, this is me opening up, and it’s for a reason.  The reason is, even someone like me who has NO idea where or if I belong in this field, found something so important to grab onto that I’m devoting all of my efforts to make sure that a patient gets what he so desperately needs.

This experience made me see what PT can do, and maybe an average PT student like me can actually affect some change in people’s lives.

I saw that attention, time and a smile could change a patient’s day.  Attention, time and smile?  Even I can do that!

But I want to share with you one particular patient experience that left ME changed more than the patient I was working with.  This patient will be referred to as “G” to protect his identity.

G is an 18-year old male with Muscular Dystrophy.  He presents with bilateral hand, wrist and finger function (> 3/5) and weak cervical strength (<3/5).  Other than that he is <3/5 with MMT.  He is fully dependent and spends most of his waking hours in a manual tilt in space wheelchair.

Now for WHO is is.

G is cool as hell.

He’s smart, his english is great, sharp enough to make fun of the American PT students who speak no spanish in a good natured way.

He’s happy, he knows his present health condition and STILL greeted me with a smile and an “Hola Jimmy!” every, single, time I saw him.

He’s sweet, he is one of the few residents who is cognitively intact in his facility.  Often while I was working with other patients, G would chime in to let me know what the patient was trying to communicate.  He was translating their spanish to me, but also what they couldn’t or wouldn’t say.  He is very much in tune with the other residents around him, because he cares about them like his family, because they are. And he takes care of them however he can.

Look, I’m a mostly upbeat person, but I can get cranky, if I were stuck in a chair all of my waking hours, I’m 100% sure I would have a chip on my shoulder and be in a pissed off mood at least 33% of the time.  But, not this kid.  I’m sure he has crappy days, but in my two weeks there, I didn’t see them.  He was genuinely excited to be around other people.  He loves fùtbol, and hanging out with his best friend “E” (also a resident in the same facility) and “The Fast and the Furious” movies. (even though I told him there were much better ones out there.)

You know where I’m going with this now right?  We’re, back to changing A world.  I’m one PT student, currently writing this while in class, relax it’s on how to make your resume better, but I’m “just” one guy.  But I can change A world, his world.

And here’s how:

Getting a powered wheelchair would change HIS world.

G would be able to move around his environment as he pleases.  He would be able to actively explore the world, he would be able to interact with it more often instead of being pushed through it by his caretakers.

This chair is not cheap, about $18,000 is what we were quoted for his current and future needs.

But, this chair IS worth it.  HE is worth it.

We performed an exercise in Neurorehabilitation Lab last semester.  We sat motionless and speechless in a wheelchair for 10 minutes.  Easiest 10 minutes of lab in the three years of PT school!  Right??  It was mind numbing.  The first 2 minutes were easy, the next 2 were agitating.  Minutes 4-8 things that didn’t actually hurt before, started to, just because I was holding still.  The final two minutes I just wanted to scream.  Someone look at me!!!  Talk to me, and for CHRIST SAKE can you scratch my nose it’s been itching FOREVER!!!!!!

Try it yourself… it’s hard!

And that’s, just, ten, minutes.

So, now that you know what it’s like to be in a chair for 10 minutes, you can see why I want a power wheelchair for G.  And, I’m going to get him one.

You see, before I said goodbye to G, likely forever, I said, “Thank you for letting me work with you for the last two weeks, I liked it very much and learned a lot.” He smiled and said “Me too.”

Then I walked away, quickly, because I was starting to cry.

I then sat in the facilities chapel and cried, for a long time.

Long enough until all of my classmates had gotten on the bus to leave, forever.  And I decided that’s not the last thing I wanted to say to him.

So I ran back, and found him in his bed.  And said, “I wanted to say goodbye again, I’ll miss you.”

He Smiled.

Then I went and did it, I made a promise.  I said, “I’ll be sending you something.”

You shouldn’t make promises you can’t keep.

So, G gets a chair.  Period.

Follow along with us as we raise funds from $1 donations and up here: https://www.gofundme.com/gcsynw2c

We will be auctioning off items like textbooks and spaces in continuing education courses that have been donated to us (that info coming soon).

I’m going to change A world, care to help?

Jimmy McKay, SPT
Marymount University Class of 2016

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