I was on the way to therapy today and I felt very indifferent. I didn’t feel like going. It was actually a really nice day out but it might as well have been raining and dreary because that’s how I felt. I had a brainstem stroke in November of 2014 and I worked through inpatient rehabilitation for almost 6 months. While I was an inpatient I had speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy every day. In fact, I still do all three on an outpatient basis regularly. As such, I am no stranger to therapy. This experience has helped me realize how important it is to put your maximum effort towards therapy.

Many doctors will say that the most significant improvement is made in the first two years following your injury. That makes it important to achieve as much as you can achieve within two years of your injury. However, if it’s been more than two years since your injury, all is not lost. In fact, many therapists have told me that they see plenty of people who make significant improvements after two years. The need for attending therapy is paramount. The need to make the most of your time cannot be understated.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with a former City of Trenton Police Officer located in New Jersey, U.S.A., who was critically injured while on the job. He was actually eligible to retire when it happened and not only was he very lucky to survive; it’s a testament to his will to live, as he was critically injured. In talking to him, he credits his continued improvement in part to his willingness to go to therapy. He was injured more than two years ago but still goes to therapy regularly. He is still making significant improvements. He is still making these improvements not only because he happens to be a very strong and motivated person, but because of his serious and unwavering commitment to therapy.

It’s very easy to let the things we do all the time become habit. Going to therapy can become rote and something where we just go through the motions. I had a tracheotomy for so long that I got used to covering my neck when I shower. It can certainly get wet but you should avoid getting any direct spray in it. I actually had to cover it when it was healing early on as well. It has now healed to the point where I don’t need to cover it. However, I find myself still covering it because of habit. I am just used to doing so. In going to therapy it’s important to never let it become habit. Ideally, it should be taken as a unique opportunity to improve. It helps to think about long-term goals. Whether a goal is to drive again, get back to work, play an instrument, walk with a device that offers less assistance, walk without assistance, or play catch with your children; keep them in mind when you are going to therapy. That is why you are going. Even seemingly mundane tasks that you are made to do in therapy help you to achieve these goals. Trust that there is a method behind every request.

When something terrible happens to you it can often make you feel like a victim. It’s proper to feel this way because in a lot of ways you have been victimized. Something bad and terribly unfair has happened. You need to grieve what happened in the same way one grieves the loss of a loved one. It’s a loss, plain and simple. You have to look at it this way. But don’t limit yourself by labeling yourself as just a victim. We are meant for so much more than that. You are a parent, a son or daughter, a brother or sister, a godparent, etc. Don’t let society label you and similarly don’t label yourself. You are much more than mere labels. You are a complex person that cannot be summed up with a mere word. Your loved ones deserve more than that. Most importantly, you deserve more than that. You owe it to yourself to make the most of your time to get better and improve.

You really have to make the most out of every opportunity to improve. Whether you like it or not, you only get one body in life. You owe it to yourself to be the best person you can be. So keep going to therapy with renewed vigor and never give up. Simply refuse to accept the situation you are in!

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