Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Saying Goodbye

One of the hardest things about being a pediatric physical therapist is saying goodbye the first and second time.  When treating adults with orthopedic injuries you get to enjoy your patient one to three times a week for approximately six to twelve weeks.  You share some good times, get them better and then they’re out the door.

Not so with the kiddos.

You see the kiddos for longer than six to twelve weeks.  Sometimes for years.  You become intricately involved in their lives.  You know their favorite food.  You get invited to birthday parties.  You witness the huge milestones.  You share recipes and business ideas with the mom.  You hear the daily frustrations.  You make the intermittent hospital visits.  You cheer for every goal met and cry for every set back.

And then one day it’s over.

That wonderful piece of sunshine that occupied the one o’clock slot on your schedule for the past 3 years is gone.  They go off to school, they age out, they move away, they get so good you have to discharge them.  It’s over.  And even though you’re happy they’re moving on to bigger and better things, a piece of you is devastated.  Where did the time go?  Did you do enough?  Did you give them the best?  Did they know that you genuinely loved them and wanted to see them soar?
The other day I was in the grocery store and I happened to see the father of one of my previous patients. I treated his son and it had been two years since he was discharged.  I loved that little boy.  I exchanged pleasantries with the dad and when I turned to look at his cart, there was my sunshine looking curiously at me.  “Well, hello there sweetheart,” I cooed.  “Hello.” He shyly returned.

And then it hit me.  He didn’t remember me. 

My sunshine was polite but appropriately filled with “stranger-danger” fear.  The dad told me he was doing fabulously in school and making great gains.  I was happy for him.  We said a few more words and then I moved on.  I wanted to embrace my sunshine.  I wanted to tell him that I loved him…even after all this time.  That I was proud of him and all of his progress.  I wanted to ask him about his school and that stuffed animal he loved so much.

But he didn’t remember me.

And such is the life of your child’s pediatric physical therapist.   Saying good bye the first time is hard.  The second goodbye is even harder.

Have you ever had to say goodbye to a beloved therapist?  How was it?  What was your experience?  


  1. Unfortunately we have said goodbye to several of my son's therapists. Some of them weren't there long enough to form much of a bond, but others have been very difficult to see go :(

  2. Thanks for your feedback! And I completely understand the difficulty. I bet one day you'll see at least one of them in the community and share memories. God bless you for being an educated and awesome mom.