Sunday, March 2, 2014


I arrive at the hospital around 9:30.

Just in time to watch Heidi, the Occupational Therapist, work with my mom. "All right," she says. "We'll work on balance again. Do you remember," she says, "How we talked this morning, about feeling the spot in the middle of your foot?" Heidi seats my mom at a machine that looks like bicycle pedals for your arms. And continues to explain to my mom how her brain has to relearn some things. Like moving her head or eyes from side to side and balancing at the same time.

And then Heidi stands my mom up. 
She stands close, in case my mom loses her balance.
Instructs her to look at a bug cutout on the window across the room.
Reminds her to feel for the sweet spot on the bottom of her foot.
My mom does fine.
So Heidi makes the task a little harder.
"Turn your head from side to side," she says. 
"Pretend you're saying no to one of your kids," she says, smiling at me.
My mom complies.
"Now move your head up and down, like your saying yes," she says.
Again my mom complies.
All the while, Heidi is prompting.
"Feel your sweet spot," she says again.
"Move your eyes, not your head."

And then she makes the task a little harder.
"Pick a spot on one side of the room. Then the other.
Look from one side to the other," she says.
Again my mom does fine.
Heidi pushes the wheelchair close.
"Ok," she says, "We're going to take a break."
My mom sits down for  a few minutes,
then stands back up,
repeats the whole process.
Again with Heidi right behind her. 

And then the session is over and I realize I have been watching
through not one, but two sets of eyes.
First, I am a daughter.
Watching my mom.
Hoping and praying that her balance is improving.
That she will be able to live at least somewhat independently.
Marveling at her strength.
Her determination.
Her desire to reclaim her life.

But I am also a teacher.
And I watch this very skilled occupational therapist/teacher
through the eyes of a teacher. 
How she reminds my mom of what she already knows.
Explains the steps in the process.
Encourages my mom to try
Coaches her through the process,
Specifically praises her efforts,
Gives my mom a break,
And asks her to try again.

It seems like good teaching is good teaching,
whether the learner is eight or eighty.


Anonymous said...

Wow! What an inspiring and thought provoking analogy. Thanks for sharing your insights.

Tara said...

The duality of perspectives was so powerful, Carol. I am thinking of he daughter you, and hoping each day is a stronger one for your mom.

Michelle said...

Both your mom AND you are amazing! I love the thought behind your slice!

Linda B said...

I like hearing the good news, Carol, & I too over these past years have watched with teacher eyes. The OT and other specialists are amazing aren't they? Hope your week is smoother!

Nanc said...

I agree, she is such an amazing teacher. Your mom has amazing tenacity and will also. She makes a daughter proud! xo

Julie Johnson said...

I love this perspective Carol. It's true...good teaching is good teaching. I hope your mom recovers quickly.

Chris said...

It's neat how we teachers see moments like this in two lights. What a patient therapist - she also has great strategies. Kudos to your mom - she's working hard!

Karen said...

I am going through this very thing with both my parents in rehab currently, and we are so fortunate to have such skilled occupational therapists and physical therapists. You are so right -- good teaching happens in a variety of arenas.
Best of luck to your mom on her rehab.