How Do You Spell SUCCESS?

image copyright Fred First
’tis a sad day when my photographic opportunities come only from (Friday) work and (Saturday) a day long meeting. But I’m determined to start up the learning curve with the new hardware, so I’ll take the shots where I find them. Love the one I’m with, I suppose.

Having the camera at work reminded me of another time that cameras were part of my physical therapy experience. I was working in a “pain center” where folks came after dropping through the cracks of health care or otherwise failing to improve. They were, as a rule, a very discouraged lot. It took a half dozen professionals working together as a multidisciplinary team to hope for success where other individual practitioners had failed to free the patient of their pain–or enable them to live their lives in spite of it.

On their second day in the program, one of us with a video camera in hand asked the patient to do some ordinary things: Tie your shoe. Stand up from the chair and walk in a circle and sit again. Reach up to the top of the door. Balance on one foot. Get in and out of your car.

Six weeks later, when they were perhaps still depressed, feeling like (and claiming) that they had made no progress, we would gather–the whole team and the patient–and watch the “before” pictures of their prior level of disability. They were often amazed at how far they had come, so gradually that they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) see what those on the outside could observe.

This was a turning point for many, who took hope from the “proof” of the possibility, the reality of improved lives. It was often true that their pain had not changed as much as we’d hope it would. “But you’re doing A, B and C 50% better now, and, while it isn’t the best results we’d hoped for, it is nevertheless success.”

Yesterday, Leonard here gave me permission to post his picture on the hip machine. He’s an example of a physical therapy patient who would have very different “before and after” pictures! He’s a hard worker, and yesterday I learned: a singer. AND a photographer!


About fred

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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