Humans of WestcoastSCI: Amy

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A teenage bright-eyed Amy, after a night of babysitting for a neighbour, would sit on the edge of her seat as the exhausted mother returning from work would tell her stories of nursing in ER. “She was always so tired, but always had this gleam in her eye. She’d be completely exhausted but she’s so happy”.

14 years into her nursing career sparked by that moment, Amy felt the exhaustion to her core - and in her shoulder. She began to develop weakness in her right shoulder from 12 hour long shifts and bad habits of reaching and lifting in whatever way was necessary to help her cardiac patients. Now spending all her rest days recuperating, on the precipice of a debilitating injury, she had a decision to make - let it take over, or seek out help. I have a job that I really care about so, I owe it to myself and to my patients to take care of myself.”

“If you don’t seek out a change then change isn’t going to happen.”

After months of seeing an RMT (Registered Massage Therapist) every 2-3 weeks, Amy was plateauing in her rehabilitation. “It wasn’t increasing my strength, it wasn’t changing my ability to do things that I could do at work.” Mentioning her ailment to her friend Cindy, wife of Chapmann (one of our Kinesiologists and Directors), she was referred to our clinic. Months of deliberating later, Amy had been planning a backpacking trip to India for the summer and was unsure if she was going to be able to do it. “At some point, something has to click, and for me, it was realizing that I couldn’t do a lot of things that I wanted to do.”

Shortly after, she transitioned from manual massage therapy to functional strength and conditioning through exercise and movement - and the nurse became a patient of Jack, one of our brilliant physiotherapists.

“Learning stretching, learning exercises to increase my strength made a huge difference, and I don’t think I would’ve been able to do that without having physio…. The team here is amazing so I think having a place where you feel like you are making a difference can totally change your mindset. For me it’s been a really fun place to come and feeling like I’m making progress. It’s been a huge change - I lost some weight, I got more confidence, I’m happier, I definitely have way more energy. I think it’s just being happier in my daily life, and not having the feeling that things are limited to me because my shoulder hurts or I feel I’m not fit enough. It’s just continuing on, and having great days, day after day, and being happy.”


Amy’s Shoulder Takes on India

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Amy’s trip to India had arrived after consistent training:

“It was unreal - 3 weeks jam-packed, 5 cities - we were there during Diwali so it was crazy busy. It was amazing! We were in Goa, Mumbai, Munnar, we went to Kerala, we went to Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, we were in Varanasi for Diwali! It was just a whirlwind trip and I think I probably enjoyed it more being healthier and being able to move. There were a few times where we would leave in the morning and not come back until night time - so just having endurance and being able to do everything, and not have to say no to something because I was too tired or didn’t have the strength. I was able to carry a 20+lb backpack throughout the whole trip and felt really comfortable. Slept on some really weird surfaces - some soft ones some hard ones - some really weird positions, and I didn’t have any shoulder discomfort after, which was really amazing for me. I think just being here and working out with Jack made a huge difference for me on the trip.”

Coming back from her experience, she reflects on her experience as a patient as a nurse and what it all means for someone at a crux of needing change.

“I think it’s really basic, but [the most important thing of healthcare] is feeling that you’re cared for, that you count, feeling that your voice is being heard. You’re not going to seek out healthcare if you know you’re not going to be listened to. I think definitely feeling like you’re a part of something as well. Part of healthcare I like is that it’s a team effort - you can’t just come to the hospital and expect us to do everything… We give you the tools, you go out there as a patient and you sort of use those tools. If we don’t teach you how to use them, and you’re not a willing participant in learning that then you can sort of hit a wall [with your health]...You’re not going to get results if you don’t seek the opportunities to change them. No one’s going to help you if you don’t help yourself. Just stick with it. If you don’t seek out a change then change isn’t going to happen”