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Reflections on “The Alchemist”

“The shop is exactly the size I always wanted it to be. I don’t want to change anything, because I don’t know how to deal with change. I’m used to the way I am.”

This is nothing like me, but we have met all types.

I personally thrive on change. I haven’t held a single position for more than a couple of years. One of the reasons I really enjoyed working for a larger company was that I could move through the company relatively easy and learn other jobs, without sacrificing my place in the company or benefits.

When I worked at Sam’s club, I started as a “cart boy” (man do I miss Don and Howard). I moved to cashier, where I held the title of Big Dog (only those that worked their would get it, but it was the person who scanned the most items per hour) many times. I worked at the service desk, as a cashier supervisor, overnight stocking, tire and battery center and freezer cooler.

Those that know me, know that I don’t know a damn thing about cars. Over time, I could do a set of 4 tires in less than 15 minutes from the time the car hit the lift to the time the tires hit the ground.

My first day in TMA resulted in me needing a drug test! Got to love Bill Foster for saving my job that day. I was told to drive a large older ford into the garage. What they didn’t tell me was that I had to take the turn wide using a three point turn. I took it tight (I had no clue), and I was scraping the side of the truck against the brick building for about 1/2 the bed. The truck was so loud that I couldn’t hear it.

Bill Foster comes running out giving the stop sign like a third base coach. I hopped out without a clue of what had happened.

He sold me as an incompetent idiot to the owner of the truck, as it being my first day on the job…and let me tell you that I was very grateful to be called that because the guy totally calmed down and was happy to get a new paint job. It was the first and only time that I had to be drug tested for being an imbecile.

If you live in Joliet and know Bill Foster, thank him for saving my job that day.

Don’t be afraid of change…what’s the worse that can happen?

A new paint job.

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Reflections on “The Alchemist” Part XV

“The closer one gets to realizing his personal legend, the more that personal legend becomes true reason for being, thought the boy.”

Working…playing…living.

I used to go to work to collect a paycheck. It was alright, I had other passions that were more important. Some may not know, but I was previously a competitive strength athlete, having placed 2nd in IL in both powerlifting and Strongman. If you don’t believe me, check this out (https://youtu.be/Z-BXSbcpwRw).

I’ve since quit competitive lifting, but still needed that outlet of playtime. “Work” has become play. Each patient that presents to the clinic is a new puzzle that I get to piece together. There are so many facets to the puzzle. Movement is obvious…I’m a PT…there will be movement. Personality is another. Beliefs and biases. Teaching the patient and learning from the patient.

Living. I’ve heard it a couple times this week alone. A patient walks into the clinic and says either “it’s like a miracle” or “it’s like magic”. My xyz is almost gone or completely gone. Symptoms that had been present for days, weeks, months, decades seem to vanish with simple treatments that patients can perform at home.

Did I mention I love my job?

If not, I love my job. I still get goosebumps when I get this response. It’s like a kid in a candy store. I have to keep from wetting myself I get so excited to hear these phrases. Although it makes me feel good to help the patient get back to their previously lifestyle. It’s a different feeling for me.

It’s like beating Bowser. It’s up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right B, A, B, A, select start.

Yeah…it’s that feeling. It far surpasses money. It’s about the game.

Reflections on “The Alchemist” Part XVI

“When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”

A long time ago, I was unsure of what to do as a profession. I prayed and prayed between going to medical school and going into education. After much prayer, I decided to become a high school teacher. I thought I would teach biology since science always came easy to me.

After attending Joliet Junior College, my goal was sidetracked by a want. I wanted to experience the college life and the city life. I chose to go to UIC in order to experience the city. Little did I know, they didn’t offer a biology secondary education program. I was more interested in experiencing the college life than teaching biology, so I signed up to be a Spanish teacher. To me it was like a compromise. Mind you, I didn’t speak Spanish outside of what everyone learned in high school. I should’ve put a little more thought into that decision. I spent a year at UIC studying mostly Spanish and experiencing the city through tours, classes and groups. It was a very expensive year…which I’m still paying off. In the end, I came to my senses and realized that the Spanish language just isn’t why I want to spend my entire career around.

I transferred to Governors State University to finally study Biology secondary education. I made it through the program and during one of my student teaching experiences, I realized that politics never go away. This situation was enough for me to not want to be a part of the education profession.

Luckily for me, one of the courses I took was taught by a PT professor with PT students in the course. Because the body has always made sense to me, it was a blow-off course for me, but many of the PT students struggled.

The professor came up to me and noted that if I applied to PT school that I would definitely get into the program. I had no intentions of becoming a PT initially. Aside from a short bout of PT after surgery when I was younger, I didn’t even know why PTs really did aside from follow the protocol by the surgeon.

I had my plans of becoming a teacher squashed. I had nothing better to do at the time, so I applied to PT school. I didn’t realize how hard it was to get into a PT program because I was essentially recruited into the profession.

I still think about that day at Loyola University kneeling at the statue of Jesus by the lake. It’s one of those things in which the best laid plan is laughable by God. I had no clue that my life would go into this direction.

Now that I’m here, I feel I should make the most of it. These past two years have really pushed my comfort level and people have noticed. UpDoc Media tanked me in the top 40 in the country, as an influencer in 2017. The local newspaper, that I read growing up, ran a two page article about my journey. I’ve impacted many kids in our community both through my story and volunteering.

I’m not at the place I want to be financially, but I think that after 12 years in this profession that I am starting to find my place.

Reflections on “The Alchemist” Part XIII

“People need not fear the unknown if they are capable of achieving what they need and want.”

This is something that it took me time to figure out. I was afraid of making the jump back to private practice physical therapy because of the lifestyle that I had grown accustomed to living.

When making this jump, I wasn’t thinking about the sacrifices we would have to make, such as no vacations for awhile, making dinner at home instead of Chiptle, brewing our own coffee instead of going to Dublin (because Starbucks is too expensive even when doing well).

Essentially, what I had to decide is…is the sacrifice worth it? Do I think I’m too good that I can’t go back to living the same way I grew up in order to achieve a long term goal?

Have I gotten so used to living easy that I’m above making sacrifices?

The answer is no. I made a jump and failed. It’s okay. We still have the basics and a roof over our head.

This simply means that we lived to take another risk. I landed back on my feet, but have to work longer hours than previously.

My wife is the true hero of this story. She is the one that (wo)mans the fort while I’m off trying to save the world. Without her as the cornerstone, I wouldn’t be able to attempt any of the goals that I have succeeded and failed while attempting.

For all, take a risk, when you are ready and able. Don’t make the leap if you can’t afford to fail. Don’t stay in a failing business if the end result is a major impact on your or your family’s health.

As long as a failure is not a figurative death blow, nothing ventured nothing lost or gained.

Reflections on “The Alchemist” Part X

“Now, I’m beginning what I could have started 10 years ago. But I’m happy at least that I didn’t wait 20 years.”

It’s the adage: “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

This is very fitting in my life. I seem to have a 3-8 year itch regarding my profession.

It’s hard to believe that after 38+ years, the longest job I held was Sam’s Club 8298. That job was perfect for me. I get bored relatively quickly and try to do more or challenge myself in a different fashion. I could bounce from one section to another without ever having to quit.

In the PT world, it rarely works that way. I may be able to switch locations, but it’s essentially the same job. There’s rarely additional challenge.

I can honestly say that every job, but one, which is a different story for a different day, I left to do better, be better or work harder.

If there is a dream that you have and the opportunity presents itself, what’s stopping you?!

Don’t regret the decision you didn’t make!

Always think of the worst case scenario. How would that worst case scenario affect you and your family?

If it’s not a death blow, why not make the jump? Sink or swim, but do your due diligence before making the jump.

Research what you have to do to be successful. Spend some time that you would’ve slept to figure out how to stick the landing on the jump and not fall flat on your face.

I landed flat on my face and you know what?…

It wasn’t a death blow. We lived to fight again.

Reflections on “The Alchemist” Part XII

“Once you get into the desert, there’s no going back. And when you can’t go back, you have to worry only about the best way of moving forward.”

In 2017, I made the decision to leave a good paying job, with good benefits and it was only an 15 minute commute.

I walked away to take a chance on a better position. It started at less pay, worse benefits, and a 45-60 minute commute each way.

I never looked back. I poured 100% of my efforts into this new position because…there was no going back. I made the decision to better myself and my family’s lot in life. This means that I am working way more than I ever had in the previous job, but it has a much higher upside than the last job would’ve been able to afford my family. There were some growing pains, as now I get paid when we make money and if there is no money being paid, I don’t make as much. It’s the life of an employee vs an employer.

Never take for granted the position of employee. It comes with perks, such as low cost of entry (for the most part just sitting through interviews and hoping to get paid), it comes with a salary (unless you are commission based), it gives benefits such as vacation and sick time.

The role of employer is not as predictable. It has a higher cost of entry. The employer has to purchase equipment , pay employee taxes, doesn’t come with a standard salary (employees get paid first) and it’s is much harder to take a day off when there is no one else that will give the business the same care that the employer does.

This quote applies to any decision in life. Gary Vaynerchuk is famous for saying “don’t do anything half pregnant”. In other words, go all in.

When you have a family depending on you, this is much easier. When you’re younger, you have the ability to taste a bunch of different aspects of life to determine what direction you want to go all in.

But once you make your decision, you go all In and don’t look back!

Medicare for all

Are you paying attention?

Medicare for all would not be a great option, since we can barely sustain Medicare for some.

Government has to get more and more creative in order to make the 💰 last longer.

Part of that creativity is to reduce output.

Another part of that will be to increase revenue to this system.

Reducing output is easy. They are simply paying less for services and taking less risk than previous years.

For instance, ACO (hospitals and other entities) are seeing less reimbursement than previous years for the same procedure.

Less income means that the hospitals have to find other ways to generate income or to become “leaner” in their operations. This may mean less one-one time for PTs.

What do you think the solution should be?

See some of the comments to understand why we are running into problems.

Functional movement screening: the use

“The rehabilitation professional must realize that in order to prepare individuals for a wide variety of activities, screening of fundamental movements is imperative.”

I agree with this statement. I disagree that we yet have a tool that can screen all individuals from all sports. This screening tool has yet to prove its worthiness of use on athletes.

I recently was certified by USAW as a weightlifting coach. I really like what they use to screen participants before allowing them to train the weightlifting lifts of the clean and jerk and snatch. They use the basic movement patterns, without load or speed, that are needed in order to perform the entire lift safely.

This makes logical sense, but I don’t think a study has been performed to see if this is a good/bad thing to do prior to allow safe lifting.

The FMS is proposed to be a screening tool for athletes and tactical workers. I’m not sure this one tool can encompass all of the movements required in life.

It’s still a good thing to learn about, not for use as a screen, but instead to better understand how the body as a system can move through the spectrum of very stiff and weak through very mobile and supportive.

“Many individuals train around a pre-existing problem or simply do not train their weaknesses during strength and conditioning (fitness) programs.”

If a person is unaware of a problem, this is also a problem. I would be all for a low cost screening tool, which everyone is required to have tested on a yearly/decade basis.

For instance, someone that lacks ankle mobility may not know that they are unable to squat without something under their heels. They may not know that this leads to increased use of the anterior chain, which increases knee stresses. They may not utilize their hips and may round their back when performing their repetitive squatting activities.

There are so many possibilities for a person to lose mobility, that this should be screened. The problem is that we have yet to know an effective screening tool.

“The perception of many past researchers is that no set standards exist for determining who is physically prepared to participate in activities”

If there are no standards, then everyone can participate in a physical training program. This is only partially true. There are some standards, but not many.

1. The person must be breathing

2. The person must not be at a major risk of death if participating in an exercise program

3. Start exercising!

“…the main goals in performing pre-participation, performance, or return to sport screening are to decrease the potential for injury, prevent re-injury, enhance performance, and ultimately improve quality of life”

This is what makes a universal screening tool so hard to find. I don’t even think we have a tool for different positions of the SAME sport because the requirements are so diverse. I keep bringing up the USAW screening tool, but that’s because the athlete, in the end only needs to be safe enough to perform TWO movements. The screening tool has more movements than needs to be performed. If this were to hold true for any other sport, the screening tool would be too long to be useful.

“…intended purpose of movement screening (1) identify individuals at risk, who are attempting to maintain or increase activity level (2) assisting in program design by systematically using corrective exercise to normalize or improve fundamental movement patterns (3) providing a systematic tool to monitor progress and movement pattern development…(4) creating a functional movement baseline”

I can agree with all of the above stated. Im not sure if research supports these statements, but they sound pretty good.

I do like the idea of creating a movement baseline, but that baseline measurement will need to be extensive enough to capture relevant information to that patient.

“The FMS (TM) is comprised of seven fundamental movement patterns (tests) that require a balance of mobility and stability (including neuromuscular/motor control)”

This is true. The seven movement patterns tested are adequate tests for ADL’s but I don’t know if it goes far enough to test anything other than a persons baseline movement.

“The term ‘regional interdependence’ is used to describe the relationship between regions of the body and how dysfunction in one region may contribute to dysfunction in another region”

I speak with many PTs throughout the week that know this term and can recall this term, but don’t apply this term on a daily basis when working with people. For example, a significant loss of dorsiflexion (ankle flexibility) will keep the knee from bending and shifting towards your toes. This will in turn cause you to learn more forward with your hips.

A loss of movement at your shoulder can make you move your back more when reaching overhead.

This is the term regional interdependence at play.

“Programmed altered movement patterns have the potential to lead to further mobility and stability imbalances, which have previously been identified as risk factors for injury”

This is where I start to deviate a little from the article. There are way too many logical jumps being made without proof that a screening tool is predictive of injury.

“…an important factor in prevention of injuries and improving performance is to quickly identify deficits in symmetry, mobility, and stability because of their influences on creating altered motor programs throughout the kinetic chain”

I don’t agree with this.

Everything here forward is my opinion and I don’t have any proof that it’s true: we live in an asymmetrical world. We start off as one handed or one footed. We play sports that drive this asymmetry. It’s hard to say that moving towards a more symmetrical society will improve performance in asymmetrical sports or activities.

I personally don’t think it happens.

There are many saying that at a young age that kids shouldn’t specialize, and I would agree with that, but at what age does specialization become more appropriate. I remember hearing stories about Ken Griffey Jr (one of the greatest baseball players of all time with baseball being a very asymmetrical sport) playing basketball in order to improve mobility and hand eye coordination.

It’s a theory that working towards symmetry improves performance, in just not at that point yet.

“Scores serve to tell the professional when a person needs more investigation or assessment”

The score on the movement screen does not predict injury. It just states that the person doesn’t move like the ideal.

For instance, my shoulder mobility for the internal/external rotation test is not ideal. That’s expected for me because I have shorter arms and am overweight. The investigation of this test is that I have to lose weight in order to see if that has an effect on my testing. The same “problem” of being overweight can affect the rotary test in quadruped as the belly can get in the way of the test. “Problem” solved. It may not be a muscle/joint problem at all.

Read the article to see the testing and what the authors propose that the test is measuring.

Link to article

Reflections on “The Alchemist” Part IX

“There is only one way to learn, it’s through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey.”

Some people are frozen when having to make a decision. Whether it be what type of beer to drink at a brewery or what major to choose in college. I make decisions mischief easier now than when I was younger.

There is only one asset that has a limit and that is time. All other assets are potentially limitless.

I recently went to a brewery with friends. They had a ton of beers on tap. I could’ve spent my time deciding what beer to try while standing at the bar and my friends were at the table discussing life. Why bother?!

Time is more important than a few dollars at that point in the weekend. The amount of time that I would’ve been away from friends that I only get to see but a couple times per year wasn’t worth it for me to be standing at the bar.

I spent a few dollars more and bought a flight of beers. It cost only $3 more than buying one of the 50 beers that they serve. The $3 was a risk I was willing to lose. I only drank one of the 4, but at least tried them all for one sip. I was very satisfied with that decision even though I left 3 beers on the table (mind you I don’t really enjoy drinking to begin with so I would’ve had to ask a lot of questions just to order one beer).

I was able to enjoy conversing with old friends and make memories. That was worth the $3.

I think many people struggle to make decisions because they don’t look at what is lost in the time to make decisions. I recently started learning about decision fatigue and try to make fewer and fewer choices throughout the day. Essentially, my day is very structured (it’s both good and bad, but it’s a trade off). It saves me a lot of time and prevents any sort of stress in decision making by keeping a routine.

This same strategy of weighing cost to benefit works for me in all decisions. I discuss this with all students going into college and professional school. Is the decision to go to college worth it?

The student should have a pretty good stronghold on what they want out of college before signing up for school. Otherwise, that person is spending tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars on an education that they may not use or enjoy the benefits/wages.

There are plenty of trades that one can join at a low cost of entry. If a person is unsure of their life’s purpose, they should do something with a low cost of entry because there is little to keep one from walking away when the time comes. A high cost of entry, not paid for in cash on hand, causes a person to make different decisions and to feel stuck in a position because they will have to pay off the debt that accumulated prior to jumping into a different profession.

I wish this stuff was talked about in college preparatory courses. Unfortunately, many learn the lesson the hard way through decisions that they would not have made if they were 20-30 years older.

Reflections on “The Alchemist” Part VIII

“The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better.”

This was hard for me for so long, until Natalia was born. She really put life into perspective. I loved life for big goals. I would be so focused on the future, that the present was just something that I had to get through in order to reach my goals.

Lenna is our oldest, but it was different. Anita, my wife, is amazing at what she does. She can juggle so many balls in the air at the same time and still manage and take care of Lenna. I never had to worry about that one.

Natalia was different, and not just because she has Down Syndrome. It’s a radical change going from one child to two. Ania needed more help. I spent a lot more time with Natalia, when she was a baby, than with Lenna. It’s the same with our third now, Adam. I spend maybe more time with Adam than Natalia when she was a baby.

That’s only because Ania usually takes care of the other two and I only have to take care of one at a time!

Having Natalia made me slow down a little. I appreciate the cartoons, coloring with Lenna, helping Lenna with her “sight words” (if you don’t have young kids then this is a foreign concept), and working on homework with her. It’s because of the youngest two that I spend more time with the oldest.

Enjoying the present makes me realize the WHY for the future.