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PT and the Greater Good

Senior Physical Therapist

Published June 21, 2011 4:05 PM by Dean Metz

This was a difficult week. I celebrated a birthday and the holiday I took was nice, the company was delightful and the food was fantastic. Right afterward, though, I felt very old. That wasn't because I've suddenly received a load of spam advertising power chairs, singles over 50 or adult communities (although that didn't help). I've been enjoying reading about fellow bloggers' tales of starting PT school, graduating or celebrating a year in the profession. Those milestones are distant memories for me. I found my editor on Facebook and upon seeing his photo thought, "Crikey! I'm old enough to be his father!"

For some reason, suddenly a flood of self-doubt came over me. I wondered if I had made the right choice to move to the UK, start a new degree or risk the career and life I had in NYC on love. I seriously wondered if I was too old for all that. I've heard it said that, "If you find yourself stuck in your own head, get out fast ‘cause you're in a bad neighborhood!" I'm glad I didn't indulge in this line of thinking for long. It didn't change anything, nor could it, nor would I want it to. Helen Keller is quoted as saying, "Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."

It is normal to reassess our lives as we go along, particularly around major events or birthdays. It is just that as we get older, the options seem to decrease in number, and that is scary. This made me incredibly homesick! I longed to see a yellow taxi, a hotdog cart or Grand Central Station. Feeling insecure can make one long for the familiar. I have begun to think, "What will I do when I can't be a PT anymore?" I have started another degree to prepare for that time, but it will be very hard to someday let go of this particular familiarity. One of my fellow bloggers has already had to face this question, but what about you? What will you do when you can't practice PT anymore?


Eileen, thanks so much for your kind words! I wish I had a magic formula for what to do about getting unstuck. There are days, particularly when contemplating repayment of student loans, when I wonder about the wisdom of getting a second degree. Then there are days where I wonder what would I do if I hadn't gotten the degree. Now I'm facing another big change as I take career and life in yet another direction.

I suppose I have learned from my geriatric patients. I haven't learned from the really happy ones, I've learned from the miserable ones, the ones we dread going to see. Most commonly the things they regret are not the things they did and messed up, it is the things they never tried. As I approach 50 (closer and closer) I simply worry that I will run out of time, health or money to keep trying new things. We live in a culture of fear (on both sides of the pond) where we have to insure everything, save every last penny for "what if?" and postpone life until some magic number is in our bank accounts. I don't want to die a rich man, I want to die wealthy with experience, friends, and stories. I would also like to have made a difference somehow.

No, we will not always be able to do things we want to. I will have to be separated from my partner for rather a long time by taking this new job. That stinks! But I am hopeful that in the long run, this choice will be for the best. If it is not, then I will make another choice at that time.

There is a Broadway play entitled "Sunday in the Park with George". In it Bernadette Peters sings, "Move On" It is on Youtube. Find it, watch it and...move on.

I hope this has helped.

All the best and Cheers! Dean

Dean Metz September 17, 2012 1:09 PM

Ok, so I'm a day late and a dollar short.... Ironically I just started reading your blog in August, when you began discussing coming home to the States. I was immediately intrigued and have started at the beginning, reading your posts like a novel. This post particularly hits home as I turned 50 in August at which time I also completed my tDPT.

I have also experienced some other transitional life events which has left me questioning my current situation and considering how to best move forward. I currently work in pediatrics (school for special needs 3-21) and this is beginning to take a toll on my body. My work history is extremely varied as I worked as a contractor and a traveler for a number of years and had been primarily in the continuum of adult care. Pediatrics has only been for the past 10 ish years.

I am particularly interested in integrative and holistic care. Your position in the UK does sound ideal. Also I am enjoying your perspective on public health and your masters work, though the thought of returning to school yet again, is not too appealing.

I was moved by your post on fear after your friend passed away, as I have found myself "stuck" lately, afraid to make any big changes. I used to thrive by change, now I find myself immobilized by it and find myself focusing more on "security"

I have been reminded that in this economy most people are just happy to have a job, let alone a job that make them happy.

This is a long post a little too late, I hope you continue to blog after you return to NY, as I have enjoyed them this far.

Any words of wisdom are welcome!

Cheers and good luck moving forward!


Eileen O'Connell September 14, 2012 4:56 PM
Oaklyn NJ

I recently worked with a PT who was 70.  She walked a little slower, and thought a little longer and she couldn't pick up the patients like she used to but had valuable knowledge and insight with what she did.  

jason June 22, 2011 10:24 PM

I appreciate reading your thoughts and perspectives on this other side of the PT career.  It will (hopefully) be years before I have to think about my life after PT, but it's always something to consider.  

Lisa West West June 21, 2011 10:34 PM
Brookfield WI

I'm facing the same question.  I turn 50 later this year but have been wrestling with the question for a while.  What will I do when I can't be a PT?  Neurology is a very physical kind of therapy.  I can't continue to lift and hoist patients forever.  I already know I don't like management.  I'm a good teacher but teaching won't support horses.  Instead of widening my skill base I become more stroke specific.  

I've been getting the same advertizements for the 50+ crowd for months.  The first one almost made me cry. Now I just delete them as spam.  It's hard to know what to do when this is all I know how to do.  I admire you for having taken the first steps.  You have a direction.  Hopefully I'll find one as well.

Toni Patt June 21, 2011 6:49 PM

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About this Blog

    Dean Metz
    Occupation: Staff Development Specialist
    Setting: New York, NY – Newcastle Upon Tyne, Great Britain
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