• Mary Kathleen Toner

The Key to a Successful PT Journey

Or, what your Physical Therapist won't say to you, but I will. (In a blog, not to your face, of course.)


I’ll spare you the fluffy intro you’ve read time and time again this year in countless emails, social media posts, and other blogs. Here’s the highlight reel: So many changes! Unprecedented! Uncertain! Uncomfortable! Tense! Silver linings! Thankful. Transition to general point of message.


Ok, that should cover it. Let’s get to the meat of this thing now.


One of the more impactful changes 2020 brought to me is the shift in my role at Functionize. Instead of focusing on our growth in the social media/marketing landscape, I currently manage our front office full time. Stepping into this position was a no-brainer for me; everyone around me was entering the world of unemployment, so I was more than thankful to stay on at Functionize in whatever capacity was needed...duh. Plus, prior to graduating from Auburn, I had worked in a customer service position at a collegiate bookstore and found I not only enjoyed it, but was really great at it! So, I can honestly say I was truly excited for the challenge this type of role presents and still love it now, 7 months later.


The greatest part of my new position at Functionize is interacting with you (our patients) on a regular basis. I’m chatting with you on the phone, shooting off texts or email responses, and even afforded the luxury of seeing (half) your lovely face in real life! I’ve gotten to know many of you and cherish this human connection now more than ever.


And you know what? I’ve picked up on something that I think is worth sharing.


I can tell from a patient’s first visit whether they will be successful in their journey with us or not. Sometimes, I can tell simply by the initial phone call.


I know Jake and Lauren tell you that it’s all about the exercise/stretching “homework” they give you. And, to an extent, it sort of is. But, there’s something you need to commit to before you even open your personalized program- something you may not arrive at your first session with, but if you leave your first session with it and carry it with you on your PT journey, I promise you will find success.


You know what it is? Your dang attitude, dude. A positive one, to be more precise.


I’m going to be your mom for a minute. (I don’t have any children of my own, so technically I’m going to be my mom for a minute.)


If you come into this office with a mind made-up that your treatment isn’t going to work because it’s not a quick-fix and you walk out the door with that same sour attitude, well, Miss Thing, your treatment really won’t work. If you hold fast to a belief that there is only one type of “cure” to your issue, then you will see no progress, no relief, and certainly no solution.


Listen, I know from personal experience that pain can be scary. That something being “wrong” with your body, something you can’t figure out about the vessel you live in, is absolutely terrifying. That fear can permeate every area of your life and render you unrecognizable. That’s exactly what happened to me before I found a pelvic health physical therapist, so I promise I'm speaking from a place of understanding, from experience.


When I stopped repeatedly telling myself, “why bother? It’s going to take so long. There’s no way I’ll ever be free of this issue,” and started reminding myself that even a little bit of progress is better than nothing...well, I started making more than just a little bit of progress.


A shift in my attitude directly translated to a shift in my physical therapy journey.


I stopped completing my exercises just to tick them off my to-do list so I could tell my PT I did them. Instead, I allowed myself to be open to the idea that even if they didn't show me immediate results, doing them was still good for me. It wasn't time wasted just because I didn't think I could measure it, it was time well-spent because it focused on my health.


You know what? My PT noticed a change right away and I cannot tell you what kind of confidence that unlocked within me. I have made steady progress since that moment and even when I do feel discomfort or something I would formerly label as "regression," I make a point to do my stretching that day. I make a point to practice the breathing exercises. I make a point to give what I'm feeling a name other than "pain" and think about what kind of response my body needs from me.


I did not come to this realization on my own, though. The front row view I have for all our patients is what triggered this grand epiphany for me, and I don't want to keep it to myself! But, it's not just the Positive Paulas that woke me up; the Negative Nancy's (Nancies?) played a part in this, too.


In the last 7 months we’ve had three patients that, based on their initial phone call, I knew would cease treatment before they made it to their 3rd visit if they didn’t lose the ‘tude. When someone is that angry about their situation, they tend to be less than kind to others. They’re snippy, short, and nothing you say or do is ever good enough. Instead of allowing myself to be absorbed into their bubble of rudeness, I go out of my way to ramp up my cheerfulness. The more kind, empathetic, and genuine I can be, the better. I do my very best to set everyone up for a chance to be absorbed by my bubble, thus helping facilitate the attitude shift I know is so crucial.


Reader, if you're feeling unhappy, please join me in my bubble. The more we adopt an attitude of a Chick-fil-A employee on their 3rd cup of coffee, the better we will feel. It’s not so much faking a good mood, but finding the moments where you authentically feel better and pulling your energy from those. That shift in attitude will foster a new perspective, which in turn allows for change.


✨And change is where the magic happens, bay-beeee!✨

Mary Kathleen is Functionize’s Social Media & Marketing Manager. She lives in Atlanta with husband Brian and their three furry children Cotton (pup), Burlap (pup), and Knuckles (kitty). She is the owner of Velvet & Vine Boutique.


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