Podcast: Listen to 'This Is Why'
I had no idea what physical therapy was before one Friday the 13th in 1993.
Three days before the start of my senior year of high school, I'd taken my girlfriend rock climbing in the Franklin Mountains, near my home in El Paso, Texas. After a 30-minute hike to the base of a peak, we cautiously began our ascent of the face.
I'd neared the top of a 50-foot rock and was admiring the view over my shoulder when suddenly my handgrip peeled off a large piece of stone, sending me freefalling nearly 50 feet down. I landed squarely on my feet and outstretched hands, and felt numerous "snaps" before my body rolled to a stop near the base of the mountain. The fall had left me with multiple fractures of both arms and legs.
My girlfriend hiked back out to the freeway and called for help. I was all alone for 2 full hours, trying not to look down at my left femur, which was poking out of my skin. Finally, a Good Samaritan happened by. He spent the next 2 hours with me, keeping me alert and distracted by asking about my college plans and interests. Finally, the mountain rescue team arrived. Soon I was on a helicopter that transported me to the nearest trauma center. It had been several hours since my fall, but my real adventure had only just begun.
Numerous surgeries followed. I spent weeks at the hospital. Finally, I was sent home. My mobility was restricted to positional changes in bed. Even more limited than my mobility was my morale. I was deeply depressed, feeling challenged beyond my capacity to cope. That was when I met Connie Clemens.
Connie was an enthusiastic home health physical therapist whose personality filled the room. I immediately felt her genuine concern. But that's not to say she was easy on me. Not by any stretch. I came to regard her visits as both the most rewarding and the most nerve-wracking and painful aspects of my recovery. The most important thing, however, was that I always knew she was with me 100%. I became determined to give back every bit of the effort Connie was putting into my recovery.
Although the doctors and surgeons saved my life, it was Connie who truly gave me back the ability to live that life to its fullest. At the hospital and during my year-long rehabilitation, I crossed paths with a number of amazing people who went above and beyond in my time of need. But what set Connie apart was her love for her work and her tenaciousness on my behalf. She replaced my despair with hope and transformed my limitations into capabilities. Connie brought me all the way from being bedridden to reclaiming full mobility.
I'm now blessed to serve as a PT myself in what I consider one of the greatest towns in the United States—Florence, Arizona. Florence is a National Historic District with more than 25 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but it had been without a physical therapy provider from the time its hospital closed in 1998 until the year I arrived in town—2003, 10 years after my fall.
My company now is based in the newly refurbished Florence Hospital, where we provide both inpatient and outpatient services. I named the business Affinity Physical Therapy because of Connie Clemens and everything she had done for me—from her role in my healing to the career path toward which her example led me. Affinity is a synonym of empathy, which TheFreeDictionary.com defines as "identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives." Thus, the quality that Connie shared with me during my rehabilitation became the name and guiding value of our company.
The members of my team pride ourselves on our affinity with our patients—our determination that they receive the quality of care we would want in our own moment of need. With each positive outcome we achieve, we share a bit of Connie's love for the profession of physical therapy and the patients and clients PTs serve.
Will Humphreys, PT, owns Affinity Physical Therapy, which has clinics in Florence, Coolidge, and Maricopa, Arizona.
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