“I am active. I am sixty-six. I am a wife, mother, and grandmother. I bike ride and play basketball with my grandkids. I exercise daily. I cook for my family, run errands, and am involved in the community. I have also had back pain for many years. I had back surgery several years ago. The pain has worsened in the last several months to the point where I don’t sleep well and cannot play with my grandkids. But I still push through, as I don’t want to stop living.”

This woman came to see me for the first time two months ago. She was referred to me due to her chronic back pain. And I all could think was wow…how does she do it? She is vibrant and fit yet has chronic pain that doesn’t slow her down.

On a daily basis, I am WOWED by my patients.

They live with a variety of aches and pains—the very reason they were referred to me or have decided to seek treatment from someone like myself, a physical therapist. They persist, continue their daily routines, and don’t let their pain or disability stop them from living.

I may have all the education I need to help patients recover from a short or long term injury, but the words of wisdom and experiences patients share with me are oftentimes more profound and helpful in the healing process. These individuals know their body best.

And sometimes it’s not about the actual injury but the impact it has on each of their lives and the journey they are now on.

Some have lost their jobs. Others are homebound. While many are parents, teachers, students, weekend warriors, retirees, etc., they continue to work, live, and take care of themselves and their loved ones despite pain or injury. I often think how do they do it? Aside from providing hands-on treatment and exercise, I spend time listening and talking with all my patients. Getting to know them, understanding where they are coming from and where they want to go, is important in healing. I have shared tears of empathy and joy with patients needing my help recovering from sporting injuries, surgery, a car accident, chemotherapy, chronic pain, or day-to-day overuse.

Below are just a few simple quotes from conversations patients have shared with me over the years that help them in their healing process.

“Take one day at a time.”

“I give thanks for my spouse and children who help me on a daily basis.”

“I pray.”

“I meditate to free my mind and body.”

“I stay active.”

“I stay positive. For every negative thought, I think of three positives.”

“I tell jokes. Laughter really is the best medicine.”

We all have different mantras and outlets that help us get through tough times. As a physical therapist, on a daily basis, I truly feel I have one of the most rewarding careers. I am blessed to be able to help my patients on their journey toward healing while they teach me. I share their teachings with patients who may need words of encouragement when they are at the start of their healing journey.

What helps you get through a tough day? Please share your words of wisdom with me and all those who may be experiencing pain, injury, or discomfort.

Erin Carr, PT, DPT, is an Integrative Physical Therapist at The Akasha Center for Integrative Medicine. She works with individuals of all ages and variety of conditions using a multi-faceted treatment approach. She spends time with her patients educating them and helping them heal their injury using a team approach with the goal of diminishing pain and restoring optimal function. To learn more, visit Erin’s website: www.erincarrpt.com.