To continue our celebration of #OTMonth, we are sharing stories from Occupational Therapists and Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants about why they chose their fulfilling career and the moments that re-enforce their decision to work every day to enhance the life of every person they serve.
My mom has the biggest, brightest green thumb and can make anything flourish with some hard work and a lot of love. She has kept a beautiful garden in the hills of San Francisco as long as I have been alive; our home was never without fresh flowers from the garden, and every weekend my parents would go to the local garden center for soil, starter plants, trellises and other gardening needs.
When I was in college, I was preparing to head out to work one morning when Mom came upstairs, ashen, sweating and holding her left arm which was red and swollen. She laid down on the kitchen floor and told me to call my dad at work so he could take her to the hospital. When I asked what had happened, Mom told me that she had slipped on a particularly steep grade of wet concrete in the front yard while watering her roses.
I had never seen Mom fight anything more than a cold or a stomach bug, so seeing her helpless on the floor sent me into my own grade of shock. I managed to page my dad and laid down on the floor next to Mom, gasping for air and watching the room spin in front of me. In that moment, I felt just as helpless as Mom, paralyzed by fear and struggling to figure out a way to help.
Mom ended up having surgery that afternoon to repair a Colles’ fracture in her wrist. She was exhausted when she arrived home and spent most of her time resting with a book and some tea, but never complained once about pain. After a week, she went back to the hospital to begin Occupational Therapy, something I had heard of in the context of the rehab scope but never understood in depth. Mom came home in a splint with a list of exercises and this strange orange goop that looked a lot like my glow in the dark SillyPutty from 7th grade. I watched her get stronger and more mobile and eventually regain the skills she needed to get back to the garden.
After watching Mom make a full recovery and be able to go back to work, to being a mom and a wife, and most importantly a gardener, I decided that I wanted to spend my professional life helping others return to things that were important to them. Mom still has her garden and it is more colorful and abundant than ever; the biggest seed she has planted, however, was on the kitchen floor when I realized I wanted to be of help to others for the rest of my life.
— Claire Furlotte, Occupational Therapist