It’s 7 in the morning when I walk in to the office. I prepare for a full day of work today but I always remind myself that it is a blessing to be able to make a difference in the lives of patients. Over the course of three years, I have met a lot of parents who bring their children in for neurological therapy. Even though they are not the patients, they might as well be as I have yet to meet a parent who did not wish they were the ones who were sick instead of their children. Neuro rehab can be doubly taxing on families, not just in terms of finances, but it is emotionally challenging because the brain is an organ that remains as mysterious as what lies within the deep blue sea. Compared to other fields, and despite advances in medical technology, neurology still has a long way to go in terms of treatments.
Most of our patients are recovering, but recovery can span long stretches of time, especially for those who went through severe injuries. We give a lot of ourselves in our kind of work; we rehabilitate the body and the mind, we constantly plant seeds of encouragement to the patient, while we nurture the hope of their family. I have often been asked if I ever get too tired that I would wish retirement was the next day. Yes, I get tired, and frustrated, and depressed at times, but I think of my own mortality, my parents when they get old, or my children’s future and I am thankful of the blessings that I have.
I grew up with my grandparents in the house, and learned early in life that the love of family is important. Putting my grandparents in nursing homes for the elderly has never been an option, and so early on, my parents agreed between themselves on how to manage the time between work, school, and other activities and have their elderly parents live with them. My grandparents were first generation immigrants more than 50 years ago. And although they have embraced life in America well, they have carried on the customs and traditions of their family and passed it on to their children, who also passed it on to us. One of which is the practice of taking care of family, especially the elderly ones until they pass on from this life.
We were teenagers when our grandmothers spent the twilight of their years with us. We were complete as a family on special occasions, on joyful ones as well as the sad ones. I remember coming home from school and together with my brother, we would look after grandmother, who outlived our grandfather for more than ten years. We would feed him and ensure and prepare him for bed. We would let her take her oral medicines on the appointed time, and look in on her in between our homework to ensure that she is alright. It was not unusual for us to do so, and looking back, I am glad that we looked after her in her old age, because it taught us compassion and patience, virtues that would serve us well in life.