The area that Jenison, Michigan occupies was first settled by pioneers in 1836 as a lumber site along the Grand River. Jenison gained its name from the Jenison family’s sawmill, which opened in 1864. A post office called Jenisonville was established in 1872, and the name was changed to Jenison in 1887. Jenison is a town of about 17,000 people from many walks of life. Jenison hails some notable former professional athletes, such as David Brant, Mark Dewey, and a diplomat and ambassador named Richard Gernelle. I once treated a member of the Jenison Family!
But this story is not about the town or about a famous person. This short story is about a Jenison native who kept moving forward when the going got really tough.
Susan was married and a mother of younger children. She always loved and participated in sports and looked forward to experiencing the things she loved with her children as they grew up. Frankly, things were going rather well, until… Susan was not feeling well, so she went to see her doctor. During that sunny spring day, Susan received stunning news. Her doctor stated, “Susan, I think you may have cancer.” After a series of tests, the diagnosis was confirmed. Susan had cancer.
Susan’s life suddenly changed. Sunny days became hazy, taking the kids to their sporting events became difficult, and trip after trip to the cancer center drained her strength. Susan fought, and she survived. She won the battle; but then, she developed neck pain, headaches and upper back pain. That meant more tests, more trips, and more trials. The results came in, and what a blessing – no cancer! However, she had developed a musculoskeletal problem. The doctor told her, “Susan, you need to go to physical therapy.” As one can imagine, the last thing she wanted was to go to another healthcare professional, after her long fought battle.
This is where I, Jeff, come into the story. Susan came to see me for the treatment of her pain and dysfunction. She said to me, “I do not want to be here. This is one of the last places I want to be.” Susan just wanted to be home with her family and not have to spend more time away.
I had the privilege of getting to know Susan and her story. I was able to share in her grief and in her healing. I became a part of her family as I listened and treated her. Susan responded very well to the treatment and fully recovered. Being pain free for the first time in a long time was exhilarating for Susan.
I read the following statement in my journal after she left. “Jeff, the last thing I wanted to do was to have to go to physical therapy. I had been to so many doctors, had many tests, got poked and prodded, vomited and lost my hair. I really did not want to come to PT even though I was in a lot of pain. I just could not bare going to PT. But, I am so glad I came! You encouraged me, listened to me and used your skills to take away my pain! You made this experience actually enjoyable!! Thank you for showing so much love to me.”
This story is why I pursued the field of physical therapy. There is never a morning I say to myself that I do not want to go to work. I love treating neck pain and headaches, in part because I enjoy putting to use the extensive training and practice I have experienced over the past 34 years in manual therapy. I can not tell you how much it means to me to follow our mission statement at Apogee Therapy Center. The first 6 words are: Honoring God by serving our patients… We are here to serve and not to be served.
Jenison, I am blessed to have treated one of your own! Thank you very much!!!