Mom, Physical Therapist, Advocate
By: Sam Pearsall, PT, DPT, COMT
A PT. The holder of a magic wand. The fixer of the human body. Beholder of all knowledge of everything anatomical.
A mom. The boo-boo kisser. The meal-maker. The hug-giver.
Those titles can hold a lot of weight. And luckily, I get to be both. And when those two worlds collide, I should excel. But I didn’t.
My twins were about 8 months old when I realized that one was not like the other. Piper was able to sit up on her own, she was crawling all over, and was even pulling to stand. She was going to be a walker soon. And then there was Lola. She just seemed very content to lie on her tummy. I could make her sit up but she would just fall right over. I knew she needed something. My mom intuition, along with my PT knowledge, told me something was wrong. But I didn’t know what to do about it.
I took her to the pediatrician for her 9-month well-baby check. The pediatrician- someone that I feel should always have my child’s best interest at hand. But when I went in and expressed my concerns, I was just blown off and told that “all children develop at different rates” and that I am a PT and should know what to do with my concerns.
Was I really going to have to beg for a referral? Was I really overreacting to these delays that I was seeing? Was I not good enough at being a mom or a PT? Did I cause these delays? Could I have seen this sooner? My mind was exploding. At that moment, I knew. I couldn’t be both perfectly. I couldn’t be Lola’s mom and her physical therapist. I knew I could not walk out of that doctor’s office without a referral to physical therapy. Did it make me feel like I had failed? Yes. Times 1000. But I knew that it had to be done.
So we began our physical therapy journey. It definitely had its ups and downs. And I definitely had a lot of questions that, even utilizing my knowledge base, I couldn’t answer on my own. 9 months later, my daughter walked out of physical therapy ON HER OWN. As much as I felt like a failure just 9 months before, as a mom and as a professional, I knew, right then, that I had made all of the right decisions.
I gained another title – advocate. I stood up for what I knew Lola needed. And without having done that, I don’t think she would be where she is today. Surrounding her with the right PT for her was what she needed. She didn’t need me to be her mom or to be her PT, she needed me to be her advocate. And now, she has an amazing support system that will be a constant sounding board for whatever she needs. And I have what I need – the professionals that confirmed my thoughts, that got Lola braces for her feet when she needed them, that got me to the right eye doctor when we noticed something was going on with her eyes, and that got little Lo from being immobile to walking out the door on her own.
Lesson learned – you can’t do everything 100% all of the time. The tanks would be depleted. But it doesn’t mean that you have failed. It may just be that you’ve got to find your community. And now, when I felt like I was failing at both of my jobs, I’ve realized that I have found my place. My sounding board, my peers, my friends, and my family. The people I can ask anything of, when I don’t have the answers within my reach. And for that, I will forever be grateful.