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Toni Talks about PT Today

One of My Favorite Patients Died Last Week

Published February 13, 2015 4:00 PM by Toni Patt

Bob (not his real name) was one of our facility frequent fliers. His diabetes was out of control. His circulation was terrible. He had a BKA on one leg and the other leg needed one. He refused to wear his oxygen so was always SOB. Nonetheless he was always in a good mood. He joked around with us. He made therapy fun.

The first time I met him, Bob couldn't even sit edge of bed. He was dependent to transfer. Once he got into his power chair, he zoomed around the building. I could always find him sitting outside in the sun smoking. We spent a lot of time together.

We also struggled with his new prosthesis. Twice daily I would make him stand and weight-shift. I brought tears to his eyes by stretching his hamstrings. Two months ago when he left us, he was walking over 100 feet with CGA and a RW. I don't know which of us was prouder.

The Bob who was readmitted two weeks ago wasn't the Bob I remembered. He was lethargic. He was confused. He recognized me but couldn't remember why. He was so SOB he needed BiPAP at night. He was still a trooper. He agreed to get up every day. I knew he was in trouble. He wasn't fussing about going outside to smoke.

Last week he had a rapid response and went to ICU. The next day he coded and they couldn't bring him back. I wasn't shocked that he had passed. It was probably the best thing for him. But I felt it inside. I try to keep a distance from my patients for my emotional well-being. Bob got to me. We were friends.

I can think of a handful of other patients whose death touched me. One was a woman who knew she was dying and insisted on therapy until the very end. Another was a heart patient who died the day before he was discharged to a rehab facility.

Goodbye Bob. You'll be missed.

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I'm a student PTA following your blog.  I'm really excited about getting out into the field and working hands on with patients.  I entered into this field to serve and make a difference in the community in some way.  Your story was an inspiration to me and reminds me why physical therapy is so important and so rewarding.  You really affected this gentlemen s life by giving of yourself.  Can you give me some advice for the future, what are some defining moments in your career that solidified why you chose PT?

Sherri February 14, 2015 9:50 AM

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